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. 3 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” 4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning: 6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. 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. 10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. 11 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. 12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 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. 17 May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
This psalm is a prayer of Moses. Some things which stood out for me were the contrasts between God and humankind.
God is eternal; from beginning to end. We are mortal and return to dust.
Gods’ time is endless, ours is limited and we wither with age.
God created the earth and everything in it. We dwell in the Lord.
God has power over everything, He is capable of fierce anger and unfailing love. We are at His mercy.
God is perfect. We are sinful.
Having established the supremacy of the Lord, Moses then asks for His help. He asks for an end to Gods anger with the people and for a heart of wisdom. Moses states that it is the favour of the Lord which prospers the work of their hands. He acknowledges that they rely on God for all good things.
In times of seemingly endless trouble, when life seems futile, the pattern of this prayer is a good one. Praise to God; admission of my frailty; asking for the wisdom to be able to please Him, and then for His favour on my life. I think to just put this psalm into the first person and pray it for myself would help when I find it hard to find the word. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the psalms are included in our Bible.
Dear Lord thank you for the heart felt words of your ancient servants that resonate with us now. We share their humanity, and still long for the joy of your favour. Hear our prayer so we can glorify your Name. Amen.
Written by Dimity Milne