19
Jan
11

Psalm 90 and prayer for the New Year

This year January 1st was on a Shabbat. What a great way to start the New Year! My message that day was taken from Psalm 90. This is the only Psalm attributed to Moses.  The text can be divided into two parts. The first part is a lament over the disrupted relationship between God and the Jewish people presumably that took place at Kadesh-Barnea when the people rejected the call to enter the land. The Psalm begins with the words “Lord you have been our dwelling place in all generations.”   This statement at the beginning of the Psalm was a reminder that God was to be the refuge and shelter for Israel. Moses laments that it seems that because of the rebellion of the people that this covenant blessing of shelter is no longer present.  It is interesting that God Himself is referred to as the dwelling place. In the English Bible the Hebrew word is often translated “habitation” referring to the place where God dwells. In the covenant relationship therefore the place where God dwells is where we dwell with him – a place of refuge, comfort and shelter (see the next Psalm – Psalm 91). Perhaps this sheds some light on the concept in New covenant of being “in Messiah” as we read numerous times in the wrings of Paul. The phrase “in Messiah”  refers to  dwelling in the presence of God – comfort, peace, empowerment and a host of other blessings. The next few verses describe the situation of feeling away from the presence of God. They culminate with the question: “Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?”    But rather than wallow in self pity, Moses now turns to a series of prayer requests for renewal.   These prayers certainly apply to all of us and may they be our prayers in the new year.

Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

 

TEACH US  to treat every day of our life like a gift that God gives us to fulfill our calling in life to be a holy people. The word “number” can also be translated   “our portion” (is. 53:12), “our destiny” (is. 65:12), “our appointment” (1 chron. 9:29).  God has given each of us a period of time to live in this world. Each day is “our portion, “our destiny” “our appointment. “  We must recognize that we only have so much time in this world and that we are accountable for that time.  As Paul says in Eph. 5, we must look for opportunities to use our time wisely.     Notice that Moses does not say Lord- make things easier for us- but he says, given life’s drama, help us to appreciate every day and see every day as time that is given to us. The text says that living this way is called a heart of wisdom.  It is a wise person who  lives this way. It helps us to make wise choices every day, and to view each day as significant. May this be a year in which we make wise choices and have wise priorities.

 

Psalm 90:13
Do return, O LORD; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.

2. RETURN TO US.   In this verse the word “sorry” is better translated as “compassionate.”   Moses is saying to God,  “it feels like you has left us. We are not experiencing your comfort and protection – please return. We too sometimes  wonder where God is.  -May our prayer this year be that God would show us comfort and we would have a true sense of his presence and care for us.  This is what it really means to be in the dwelling of God.  Mercy instead of wrath!

Psalm 90:14

O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

3. SATISFY US.   The Hebrew word is almost always used in the context of eating and feeling full – a sense of  contentment.   This could be viewed as a selfish prayer. After all, we are here to serve God and not the other way around. But did not Yeshua say, I have come not to be served but to serve? Does not the Psalmist say, “delight yourself in the Lord"?  When we are satisfied in the Lord we glorify him the most.  We often seek and try to find satisfaction in all kinds of endeavors and things. But when we are satisfied in our spiritual relationship with God we are giving him honor and glory in all that we say and do.  Satisfaction comes via the chesed or loving kindness of God.  “In the morning” means all the time.   Moses is  asking that God would bring his covenantal blessings upon us. 

Psalm 90:15

Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have seen evil.

4. MAKE US GLAD.  “samach” is the Hebrew word for “glad or “happy”  – samach is a synonym  for satisfaction.  “according to the days You have afflicted us,”   Moses is praying that God would replace all of the days of sadness with days of gladness.   In other words erase the sad days with glad days.

Psalm 90:16-17

Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children. 
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

5. LET YOUR WORK BE SEEN IN ALL THAT WE DO – May your deeds be manifested to us and to our children. in all that we do.   In doing so our work is established or confirmed – our work is significant and meaningful regardless of the standard of success that our world has created. “Work” here does not mean simply our “occupation.” It refers to who we are as people and all that we do in life. It means that the reflection of God in our lives  becomes our legacy to our children.  Moses prays that all that we do would reflect the majesty of God and the beauty of God. The word “favor” is “naam” which is translated “beauty” in Psalm 27:4 and is also translated “pleasantness” in other passages.  By repeating the phrase “confirm the work of our hands”  Moses finishes the prayer by asking God to make what we have done and what we do meaningful. As we read in Colossians 3:17 “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

Overall, this  is a prayer for covenant realities to be experienced.  It is a prayer for restoration. From the perspective of Moses perhaps it is a prayer that the covenant of Moab – the New Covenant would come to pass.   When Yeshua came,  the New Covenant was inaugurated. As Messiah followers, as we grow deeper in our relationship with God these prayers become  a reality as we live “in Messiah” in the dwelling place of God (v.1).    This  means that  each day is meaningful; that we find our satisfaction and joy in the Lord. May this year  be  a year of breakthrough in our lives and that we will be more satisfied and content in the Lord and that the work of our hands would manifest the very presence of God.

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