International Sunday School Lesson
For Week November 14, 2010
Purpose: To place our trust in the everlasting God in the face of human frailty and the brevity of life
Scripture Text: Psalm 90:1-12 (NRSV)
(1)Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
(2)Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(3)You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
(4)For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.
(5)You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning;
(6) in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
(7)For we are consumed by your anger; by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
(8)You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
(9)For all our days pass away under your wrath; our years come to an end like a sigh.
(10)The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
(11)Who considers the power of your anger? Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
(12)So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Most older bibles credit Moses as the author of this Psalm, it is said to have been written at the time God pronounced His judgment on the nation of Israel for not believing the minority report of Caleb and Joshua concerning being able to conquer the promised land of Canaan. If you recall the story, God sentenced all of those over the age of twenty, except Caleb and Joshua, to die in the wilderness rather than being able to see the land of Canaan, because they did not believe God could deliver what He had promised. So they were sentenced to a life of wandering in the desert for the next forty years. If you read this Psalm with that knowledge, it seems perfectly logical that the events described might lead to Moses composing this Psalm, and when it is compared to other writings of Moses it seems to be something Moses could have written.
Modern day scholars attribute it to a much later time after the capture by the Babylonians and during that captivity or the Diaspora. I prefer the traditional interpretation of Moses being the author.
One of the great interpretations of this Psalm is Isaac Watts' great hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”
O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.
2. Under the shadow of thy throne,
still may we dwell secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.
3. Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting, thou art God,
to endless years the same.
4. A thousand ages, in thy sight,
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night,
before the rising sun.
5. Time, like an ever rolling stream,
bears all who breathe away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.
6. O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come;
be thou our guide while life shall last,
and our eternal home.
God's scrutiny of our lives is inevitable, everything is exposed to God, we strive for things that have no real value, and we come well short of what God wishes for our lives. Our lives lack purpose and commitment when compared to God's desire for us. Have you ever seen the little plaque that reads, "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last?" Well, that's not what the poet wrote. The poet wrote this: "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I'll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee."
The Psalmist calls for us to repent and count our days that we may choose wisely about what is really important. I trust you will heed what the Psalmist has to say.