At the moment of our birth, God turns the hour glass upside down, and our time starts running out. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made.”
Moses wrote Psalm 90 near the end of his 120 year life. He also penned this Psalm during or at the end of the 40 year wilderness wanderings. This was God’s judgment of wasted years because of Israel’s refusal to obey God and go into Canaan from Kadish-Barnea.
In Psalm 90:12, Moses is requesting God’s help to more wisely use his time for God’s glory. Because Moses lived in the context of death, he was time conscious.
According to Numbers 26, all the men over 20 who refused to obey God and go into the Promised Land totaled 600,000 and were sentenced to die in the wilderness. That means that Moses spent 40 years superintending 1,200,000 funerals (the men above 20 and their wives). That is approximately 87 per day or 3 to 4 each hour. To borrow Donald R. Sunukjian’s title, Moses admonishes us to Count your days to make your days count (Donald R Sunukjian. Invitation to Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007, 140).
I. Moses first answers the question, “WHY should we invest our time wisely for God’s glory?”
A. Because life is uncertain and death is imminent, we ought to invest our lives (Psalm 90:1-8)
Moses contrasts man’s brevity with God’s eternality.
1. God is eternal.
God existed before man in verse one and before creation in verse two. God gave birth to creation. The word “brought forth” means “birthed.” Maybe in the context of 87 funerals a day, this thought of a birth was comforting to Moses.
2. Man is temporal.
First, Moses talks generally about all people in Psalm 90:3-6.
The reason for man’s short life on earth is given in Psalm 90:3: the Fall of man into sin. The word translated “destruction” can also be translated “dust.” God told Adam, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Adam disobeyed God and Adam that day died spiritually and began to die physically. Then God added, “You will return to the ground; for out of it you were taken: for dust you are, unto dust shall you return” (3:19). Moses quotes God saying in Psalm 90:3, “Return, you children of man” to the dust just as I warned Adam. Paul wrote of the Fall in Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
The brevity of man’s life is contrasted with God’s eternality in Psalm 90:4. A thousand years to man is like four hours to God or that middle watch in the Jewish night. A year to God is like the tick of the second hand on our watch. God is timeless. God doesn’t grow older. Time does not diminish God’s strength or memory. Even if we could live a thousand years our memory would only cover maybe 100 years and with age that span would greatly decrease.
Erma Bombeck told the funny story about a older woman who was in bed and asked her husband to get her some ice cream with some chocolate sauce on it. Then she admonished, “Write it down so you don’t forget.” He said, “I won’t forget.” Then she added, “Oh, and put some whipped cream on it and sprinkle it with nuts. Are you writing this down?” He said, “I can remember.”
A little time later he handed her a brown paper bag with a hot dog in it. She stared at it for a minute and said, “I told you to write it down. You forgot the mustard.”
God never forgets anything, except our sins when we get saved. In Hebrews 10:17, God promised, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” God doesn’t forget our sins because of memory loss but He no longer holds our sins against us believers. “Remember” means to respond. In Ecclesiastges 12:1, Solomon advised, “Remember now your creator in the days of your youth” or respond to God while you are young. God doesn’t respond to our sins because all of our sins have been forgiven.
In our next post, we will continue this sermon looking at Moses’ three illustrations of man’s brief existence on earth.