“O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)
This majestic yet reflective psalm is the oldest of all psalms. The superscript of the psalm identifies it as “a prayer of Moses, the man of God.” While we are not directly told to do so, it is helpful to consider this psalm as the dying song of this man of God as he reflected back on his long life, including the 40 years in Egypt, the 40 years in Midian, and most importantly the recent 40 years of wilderness wanderings. As we survey this psalm, think of Moses pondering his life’s work shortly before he died.
The first stanza of the psalm (vv. 1-2) contrasts the unchanging eternity of the Lord, “even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (v. 2), with the perpetual changes of the recent wilderness wandering in which the people had no “dwelling place” (v. 1). The next stanza (vv. 3-6) notes the frailty of man and the death of a whole generation. But God is the ever-living One; His years do not fail (v. 4). God is also a holy God, justly exercising righteous wrath. The open iniquities and secret sins of all mankind, particularly the people of God, merit His judgment (vv. 7-8).
In verses 9-12 we see the transient, carnal experiences of man contrasted with the permanent, spiritual nature of God. We need to recognize the intensity of His anger (v. 11) and govern our lives accordingly. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (v. 12).
Perhaps the climax of this psalm is reflected in verses 13-15, where we see the beauty of the Lord our God described as the crowning adornment of human character. The only assurance of the permanent establishment of the work of a man is in its identity with the work of God. Our request of God should be: “Establish thou the work of our hands upon us” (v. 17). JDM
From Days of Praise