God’s Life-Giving Word of Love
Psalm 90: This psalm is a communal prayer that reflects the human quest to understand life’s meaning, particularly as life is drawing to a close. It juxtaposes the eternal nature of God with the shortness of human life. In this psalm, the Lord is called “our home” and the psalm was most likely written in response to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Prior to that time, “home” or “house” in the psalms would have referred to the Temple.
O Lord, you have always been our home. Before you created the hills or brought the world into being, you were eternally God, and will be God forever.
Of God and Human Beings
1O Lord, you have always been our home.
2Before you created the hills
or brought the world into being,
you were eternally God,
and will be God forever.
3You tell us to return to what we were;
you change us back to dust.
4 A thousand years to you are like one day;
they are like yesterday, already gone,
like a short hour in the night.
5You carry us away like a flood;
we last no longer than a dream.
We are like weeds that sprout in the morning,
6that grow and burst into bloom,
then dry up and die in the evening.
7We are destroyed by your anger;
we are terrified by your fury.
8You place our sins before you,
our secret sins where you can see them.
9Our life is cut short by your anger;
it fades away like a whisper.
10 Seventy years is all we have—
eighty years, if we are strong;
yet all they bring us is trouble and sorrow;
life is soon over, and we are gone.
11Who has felt the full power of your anger?
Who knows what fear your fury can bring?
12Teach us how short our life is,
so that we may become wise.
13How much longer will your anger last?
Have pity, O Lord, on your servants!
14Fill us each morning with your constant love,
so that we may sing and be glad all our life.
15Give us now as much happiness as the sadness you gave us
during all our years of misery.
16Let us, your servants, see your mighty deeds;
let our descendants see your glorious might.
17Lord our God, may your blessings be with us.
Give us success in all we do!
This psalm begins by affirming God’s eternal nature and everlasting care for humankind (verses 1, 2), followed by describing the brevity of life (verses 3-10), and concluding with a prayer for redemption (verses 11-17). What are your thoughts regarding the verses about God’s anger (verses 7-13)? What does the writer ask of God? A beloved hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” is based on Psalm 90, and you may wish to compare the words of the psalm with this hymn.
O God, you are our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, and our eternal home. Fill me each morning with your constant love, and may your favor rest upon me each day of my life. Amen.
Those who are near death
Psalm 108: A prayer for help