Psalm 90 is a down-to-earth reflection on the vulnerability and brevity of human life as seen approximately 3000 years ago, and yet one thing doesn’t seem to have changed much since then.
The psalmist, Moses the man of God (according to the title), wrote:
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
Then according to the website https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy
“The population of many of the richest countries in the world have life expectancies of over 80 years. In 2019 the life expectancy in Spain, Switzerland, Italy, and Australia was over 83 years. In Japan it was the highest with close to 85 years.
In the countries with the worst health life expectancy is between 50 and 60 years. The population of the Central African Republic has the lowest life expectancy in 2019 with 53 years.”
The sobering point being that, whether you live for 85 years or only 53 years, relatively speaking, especially in the light of the history of mankind, we aren’t actually around very long on the earth!
Listen to what else the psalmist has to say on this subject.
… they [humans] are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.
10 Our days… they quickly pass, and we fly away.
In the light of our fleeting lives the psalmist prays:
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Sadly, too many people lack this heart of wisdom, living in denialand ignoring these truths and so spend their lives in futility instead of in meaningful and purposeful activities as God has planned for us. Consider this amazing truth:
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
Of course, this in no way suggests that our lives will be easy. On the contrary, most of us have some form of difficulty and even suffering, but even in the midst of this we have hope in God.
The psalmist here speaks of his life’s challenges, describing them as judgement due to his own sinfulness. He says:
7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
But he is very conscious of God even in the midst of his troubles, and this brings light in the darkness.
He remembers that:
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
And the truth that:
And so, recognizing his own vulnerability and God’s eternal greatness, including his unfailing love and compassion, he turns to God in prayer:
13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
This is a man of faith, despite his circumstances, asking for what he believes is possible only with God. He prays:
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
I wonder, are you in denial about the brevity and vulnerability of your life? Then maybe it is time to pray, as did our psalmist, 12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Amen.