A Heart of Wisdom: Psalm 90 (Sermon)




INTRODUCTION 

Welcome church. Again, we have a large part of our Body at Turkey Run this morning. Which is basically our third worship site for the week. 

TURKEY RUN

For three decades, Turkey Run, down in Indiana, has been a place where our people enjoy creation, spending time together, and worship. We on the other hand get the warmth and comfort of our own homes and beds. 

PSALMS 

This morning, we are doing a one-off sermon on Psalm 90. Next week, we will go back to complete our series on the book of Daniel. The reason I picked this Psalm was that pastor Jeff, pastor Mike, and I spent a couple of days this week studying the book of Psalms with Word Partners. 

WORD PARTNERS

When you give to missions at our church you support a group called Word Partners. About 20% of our budget goes to help this organization and pastor Jeff works with them. Their goal is to put the Word of God in the driver’s seat of the church and put His glory on display. What I learned through study has changed how I look at the Psalms. In the past, I read the Psalms independently like a random playlist of music. Yet, they have a unified message and purpose. I like how one Word Partner staff said it. The book of Psalms is about God’s king leading God’s people to God’s presence to sing God’s praise. Let me say that again. It is so well put, it is about God’s king is leading God’s people to God’s presence to sing God’s praise.

INSIGHTS INTO THE PSALMS

Let me give you a little background on the Psalms. King David wrote much of them, 73 of the 150 to be specific. 

  • A person by the name of Asaph wrote 12, 
  • the sons of Korah wrote 11, 
  • Solomon, David’s son, wrote 2, 
  • Heman wrote 1, 
  • Ethan wrote 1, 
  • and 50 are anonymous. 

The one I want us to look at is the oldest, written by Moses. The last one written was likely Psalm 137. That tells us these were not organized not by when they were written. The date of putting them together must have been around 530 B.C. The Psalms have five separate books or sections in the 150 Psalms. Each book and Psalm ebbs and flows. You find them filled with praise and lament, petition, and thanksgiving. Some remind us about what God has done in the past. Others point to what God will do in the future. They are meant to be sung, read, memorized, meditated on, and prayed. They are a hymnal buried in the first half of our Bible. 

HOOK  - MOSES 

What do we know about Moses? You may recall, he was the prophet God spoke out of a burning bush. Moses was an Israelite who went hiding for forty years because he killed a man. While he was hiding, the Israelites who had been slaves in Egypt for some 400 years, wanted out. They cried to God for help, and God heard their cry. From that burning bush, God sent Moses on a mission to tell the king of Egypt to “Let my people go.” Pharaoh would not comply. It took ten miracles to convince him to listen. Israel’s set out for the journey that should have taken a couple of weeks. However, because of their sin, it became an ultra-marathon of marathons, forty years. You think Turkey Run is not fun, try camping in the sand for forty years! By the time Moses reached the border, he aged from 80 but 120 years old and everyone whom he had led in that first generation had died except two. This Psalm is a prayer for mercy and perspective in light of the past looking forward to the future. Let me say that again for those taking notes, This Psalm is a prayer for mercy and perspective in light of the past looking forward to the future.   

TEXT - 90 

I have asked E.P. to read for us. Let us hear it for ourselves. 


Lord, you have been our dwelling place

    in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth,

    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,

    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You return man to dust

    and say, “Return, O children of man!”

For a thousand years in your sight

    are but as yesterday when it is past,

    or as a watch in the night.

You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,

    like grass that is renewed in the morning:

in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;

    in the evening it fades and withers.

For we are brought to an end by your anger;

    by your wrath we are dismayed.

You have set our iniquities before you,

    our secret sins in the light of your presence.

For all our days pass away under your wrath;

    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.

The years of our life are seventy,

    or even by reason of strength eighty;

yet their span is but toil and trouble;

    they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Who considers the power of your anger,

    and your wrath according to the fear of you?

So teach us to number our days

    that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Return, O Lord! How long?

    Have pity on your servants!

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,

    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,

    and for as many years as we have seen evil.

Let your work be shown to your servants,

    and your glorious power to their children.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,

    and establish the work of our hands upon us;

    yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90)


PRAYER 

Thank you. Let’s pray. 

Dear God, help your Word work its way into my heart. Work its way into our hearts. Show us your favor O, Lord. Show us your glorious power. Make our morning transformative. Give us a heart of wisdom. Help us to know how to be wise for your glory, in Jesus’s name, AMEN. 

NUMBER OUR DAYS 

What is your number? Not your phone number. How many days do you have left? Mine is 14,308. That is the number till I turn eighty. This Psalm says if we have strength maybe we can make it to eighty. In our Word Partners class this week, a pastor shared with us he numbers every one of his days in his journal because of this Psalm. I thought that was interesting. 

BIG IDEA 

What if God told you how many days you had left? What if this was your last week? What would you do? How do you seize the day? Missionary C.T. Studd wrote, “One life to live t’will soon be past, Only what is done for Christ will last” (https://paulhockley.com/2016/05/24/quote-only-one-life-twill-soon-be-past-poem-by-c-t-studd/). How do we use our time here on earth wisely? How do we number our days that we might have a heart of wisdom? Don’t we need God to give us some perspective from time to time? On a podcast recently the podcaster said he would think of how he wanted to remember him at his funeral. From there he asked himself if he was living in a way that would get him toward that goal. Often, we, I, get caught up in the trees and forget the bigger picture. We can get hung up, stress out, and off track. A prayer like this puts in perspective our limited time. Without God, in the picture, we are missing the point of seizing the day. Let’s look closer at the structure of the Psalm. 

OVERVIEW - STRUCTURE

Verse 1 Moses prayed about God’s relationship with his people. This Psalm is a prayer in light of the past. Verses 2 to 11 expand on God’s eternal nature contrasted with mankind’s temporal one. This Psalm is a prayer for mercy and of perspective in light of the past. These truths propel a series of prayer requests in verses 12 through 17, This Psalm is a prayer for mercy and of perspective in light of the past looking forward to the future.

VERSE 1

Let’s dig in. Look at verse 1, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations'' (Psalm 90:1). How was God a dwelling place? What did Moses mean? Remember, Moses was journeying to the land of Israel. He was wandering in the desert. Before that, his people didn’t have a Temple or synagogue. They didn’t always have a building or a gathering place. What did he mean? How was God a dwelling place in a desert, in a tent, or a prison? How was God a dwelling place as they traveled or as they waited? What did Moses mean? Moses was not talking about physical space but a spiritual one. God offers a spiritual refuge for those who seek it. Augustine said, “Our heart is restless until it rests in you” (St. Augustine, Confessions). Moses was praying back to God his nature. Moses was worshipping, proclaiming, and expressing his heart and his hope. 

WHO GOD IS 

Look at verse 2. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). Moses was reminding himself and future readers about the first book he wrote: Genesis. He was pointing to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. In that chapter, it tells that God existed before the sun, moon, stars, and planets. He spoke them into existence. He always existed and is greater than his creation. That makes sense. Steve Jobs is greater than the iPhone. 

Iphone 11, 12, 13, 14


Van Gogh is greater than forty-yearStarry Night. 

Field stars painting

Farmers are greater than their seed or livestock. In the same way, God is greater than what he made. But people forget. I forget. We are foolish and need reminders and God to teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. We need perspective for the future.  

VERSE 3

In verse 3, Moses wrote about dust, pointing us back to Genesis chapters 2 and 3 when God breathed life into dust and made men and women. Genesis chapter 2 verse 7, “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” And in Genesis chapter 3 mankind received their death sentence to return to dust because of his sin. 

VERSE 4 THROUGH 6

In verses 4 through 6, Moses expanded on the nature of God and man using more language from Genesis with mornings and evenings and a flood (Psalm 90:4–6). Our life is a breath. We don’t want to hear such, but it is true. We are only here for a brief moment. Though significant, in the grand scheme of things, even our greatest works will soon be overshadowed. 

FORGOTTEN

Let me illustrate. How many of you ten and under have heard of Charlton Heston? (It helps that we removed many of these kids from church). Raise your hand high. If you are twenty or younger, how many have heard of Charlton Heston? (It also helps to do this exercise when people are gone). I am curious now. If you are thirty or younger, how many have heard of Charlton Heston? (Soon there will be a generation who can’t raise their hand.) Charlton Heston starred in nearly one hundred movies. One was the Ten Commandments, where he was Moses. This 1956 movie received seven nominations for the Academy Awards and won one for best visual effects. It is in the top ten grossing movies of all time. With inflation, it has made over 2.5 billion dollars! Yet, some of us have never heard of it or this actor or seen the movie. Time marches on and soon the graveyards are filled with names of people forgotten. Teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Our time is short. With an eye on the future, we need God’s help. This Psalm is a prayer for mercy and perspective in light of the past looking forward to the future

INVINCIBILITY

Too often we think of ourselves as immortal. We pine for significance, likes, and followers in ways that neglect reality. When I exercise, I feel my mortality. In my youth, I didn’t wake up with back pain, kinks in my neck, sore steps. In adolescence, we don’t worry about the glare at night and driving in the rain or snow. In youth, we take risks and do crazy things that we can’t imagine repeating. Time flies. We begin to realize how small we are. We strive to make a mark in the world, get promoted, shine, make a difference, and stand out. Then we begin to see our abilities and accomplishments are part of the fabric of life, they are a small contribution. These verses point us back to the Garden of Eden where we were dwelling with the eternal God in peace. Our hearts long for the good ole days, don’t they? God has been our dwelling place, and still can be, unfortunately, there is a barrier. How did Moses describe this barrier in his prayer? 

GOD’S ANGER

Look at verses 7 and 8. 


For we are brought to an end by your anger;

    by your wrath we are dismayed.

You have set our iniquities before you,

    our secret sins in the light of your presence. (Psalm 90:7–8)


God is holy and not apathetic. He judges and disciplines and brings to justice sin. God gave Moses the top ten list of sins to share with his people: 


  1. Don’t have any other gods 
  2. Don’t make any graven image of God
  3. Don’t take God’s name in vain 
  4. Remember the Sabbath 
  5. Honor your father and mother (my personal favorite)
  6. Don’t murder 
  7. Don’t commit adultery 
  8. Don’t steal
  9. Don’t lie
  10. Don’t covet

They broke them all in Moses’s forty-year term. (Jesus’s half brother defined sin in the Bible, “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). The apostle Paul defined it, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).) Jesus, himself, summed up it up, 


You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37–40)


Sin is pervasive. We have not loved God with everything in us, nor our neighbors. Sin goes beyond murder. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s ideals. In Psalm 90, Moses acknowledged this and saw the fallout. God was angry with sin and his people. 

ANGER OF GOD

The thought of God’s anger is not politically correct. Moses saw God’s wrath in 3-D. His prayer amplifies this emotion in verses 9 and 10. Look at verses 9 and 10.


For all our days pass away under your wrath;

    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.

The years of our life are seventy,

    or even by reason of strength eighty;

yet their span is but toil and trouble;

    they are soon gone, and we fly away.

(Psalm 90:9–10)


We read of death and difficulty throughout the Bible because men and women sin (e.g. Psalm 103:15–16.) Life is not supposed to be like that. In fact, for centuries people have been seeking to reverse the curse. Ponce De Leon searched in vain in Florida for the fountain of youth. We invent botox and seek diets and exercise and rest to preserve our lives as long as possible. When we go to a funeral and look at our loved ones we see they are not there anymore. Death is our enemy. It is not supposed to be like this. It doesn’t seem right. The effects of the Fall are still with us. We don’t want God to give us toil, trouble, or be angry.  

A QUESTION

Moses went on to ask in verse 11, “Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?” (Psalm 90:11). The answer is rhetorical: not many. Who considers in 2021 the power of God’s anger, and his wrath according to the fear of God? What would you say? Do we consider it? Do you ever think of God as angry? In a room this size, there are various views of God and what he is like. Most of us would say God is love. The Bible says it. It is a fact. Most of us would say God created the world. That is a fact too. How many of us would say God is anger? Moses did. Why? Was he right? 

WHEN IS IT OKAY TO BE ANGRY? 

Let me ask you this, when is it okay to be angry? Is it okay to be angry? In the face of evil, it is. To be happy in the sight of injustice is not good. Anger is an emotion. Emotions are not sinful. They are natural. It is what we do with them that matters. Therefore, Moses asked if people recognize the power of God’s anger because there are times where it is right for God to be angry. And in Moses’s past, God was angry in significant ways because of his people’s sin. And seeing the past can help us look forward to the future.   

ANGER IN A BAD WAY

I think for some they see the news headlines and see God’s anger. They see God’s anger but have a hard time seeing God’s love and their sin. Others see God’s anger but that is all they see. They may have grown up with God as a weapon. Like Santa Clause, “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout. I’m telling you why.” God is not a tool for authorities to manipulate the masses. He is not waiting up in heaven with his switch to wack us to keep us in line. The Bible says he disciplines in love. I think we have a small view of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. We don’t understand God as we should. 

FEAR

Do we fear God? I don’t fear him as much as I should. I think this nation certainly doesn’t fear God. Rather, we fear the stock market crashing, the environment decaying, the border is a problem, or people being discriminated against. Our culture lives like we are gods in this life and this material world is all we have. So money, sex, power, and pleasure reign supreme. We fear not getting those things. We don’t think about others, justice, and eternity as much as we should. I don’t. 

CONTEXT

If we dig into the context, Moses can pray this because he saw the power of God’s anger again and again. Moses dedicated his life to leading God’s people to God’s Promised Land. Yet, the people complained about the food God miraculously provided. God demonstrated his power by killing some of the people with a plague (Numbers 11:33). Miriam questioned Moses’s leadership. God demonstrated the power of his anger by temporarily making her leprous (Numbers 12:10). Korah and his family rebelled against Moses and God demonstrated his power by taking that family out (Numbers 16). The people complained about God and Moses in chapter 21 of Numbers and God demonstrated the power of his anger by sending poisonous snakes to attack them. The people of God hooked up with Moabites and began to worship their gods in Numbers 25. God demonstrated the power of his anger saw with the death penalty. God is not one to trifle with. Yet, people make up their own rules for the game of life and wonder why things do not work out or do work out but feel God is far off. Moses asked the question: “Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?” Moses saw a whole generation that had cried out for God’s help walked away. What did Moses pray next? 

PETITION

Look at verse 12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). What is the beginning of wisdom? According to Proverbs, it is the fear of the Lord. We need God to teach us to understand him rightly. Having a proper perspective on God is the starting place for our spiritual life. A.W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” (A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy). Do we understand who God is? Or is he more like a caricature, a cartoon, of what we want him to be or don’t want him to be? 

CLARIFYING VISION OF GOD

Moses kept praying,


Return, O Lord! How long?

    Have pity on your servants!

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,

    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,

    and for as many years as we have seen evil.

Let your work be shown to your servants,

    and your glorious power to their children.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,

    and establish the work of our hands upon us;

    yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:13–17)


Moses asked God to return. Why? As much as God had been their dwelling place when they turned away from God and worshipped idols, they were distancing themselves from him. God brought powerful discipline. It was severe and painful. Moses wanted God to be near again. Has God ever felt distant? This Psalm can give words to us in days where God seems far off, and the consequences of our sin seem grave. 

VERBS

Look at the verbs in these last few verses. Moses wanted God to teach, pity, satisfy, make glad, show his work, favor, and establish their work. 

APPLICATION 

What was the work Moses prayed about? God’s people were headed to God’s land to work. Moses was not going to make it. He was looking forward on behalf of his people. He was going to die. What is your work that you want God to establish? This passage encourages us to reflect on several things: 

  1. What do you think of God? 
  2. How are you numbering your days? 
  3. How are you praying? 

GOSPEL 

How can we be so bold and audacious to pray like Moses? How can we who have sinned approach a holy God whom we have seen fiercely judge Israel? How can we ask for mercy when we deserve death? How do we number our days? How do we think of God rightly? We see the answer at the cross. God pours out love like a river and overwhelming our sin with grace and mercy. He sent his one and only Son Jesus that whoever believes in him though he dies, yet shall he live (John 3:16). God wraps his loving arms around us and calls us children. He took his powerful anger away at the cross. In dark days, you have grace, light, and hope, if you have Jesus. If you don’t, turn from your sin, and tell God you want to follow him. Join us on this journey this morning.

IN PART NOW

Jesus came to right the wrong, forgive, and redeem and ultimately return us to Eden with him as our dwelling place spiritually and physically. He died to undo our curse and rose to demonstrate victory. One day we will be with God unhindered by sin. 

REVELATION 


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1–4)


PRAYER

God, help us live for you on this day and every day in Jesus’s name, AMEN. 


*Use by permission. All rights reserved.

Comments