What life-changing events drive us to prayer? There are many answers. But each of us can recall those things that were beyond our control. And in them we turned to the One Who always has control. That is also true of Psalm 90, which I am calling the Perfect Prayer for 2017. Knowing the back story sheds light on two things:
- The wisdom of these ancient words
- How to pray for this New Year
History of the Prayer
Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt with a destination in mind. He was to lead them from Egyptian slavery to freedom in the land God promised to Abraham. That journey took about 2 years.
Numbers 13 is the account of Moses sending spies into the Promised Land. Their mission was to scout the land in advance of their own coming conquest. You may recall ten of the spies said the land could not be taken. They discouraged and disheartened the people. That led to the people’s faithless refusal to follow God’s command to take the land. And that act of disobedience brought God’s judgment on an unfaithful generation of the Hebrew nation. They were sentenced to wander in the wilderness until that entire generation died. None of them would enter the land God had promised.
Divine judgment of a nation would certainly be one of those things that drives us to prayer. And it drove Moses to prayer. His prayer, Psalm 90, was prompted by these events. Knowing that tells us a great deal about Moses and how we should pray.
Structure Of The Prayer
In the initial post I characterized the first verses of Psalm 90 as a study in contrasts. Moses began by declaring the truth of Who God is:
- Dwelling place of God’s people
- Creator (mountains were brought forth-created)
- Eternal (from everlasting to everlasting)
- Author/Source of life (God controls Man’s days)
- Judge (set the iniquities of the people before them)
Moses’ next comments are about men. His prayer contrasts the Creator and the created:
- We are formed of dust (created; not eternal)
- Our lives are temporary (like grass)
- We are sinful (iniquities are set before us)
- Ignorant (who considers Your anger?)
The Plea For Mercy
Mercy is the logical request when one sees God correctly. Before Him we are nothing. Without Him we can do nothing. And that is the very obvious thing we can see. But there is something a little more subtle that is equally important.
Who is praying? These words were spoken and penned by Moses. Who was disobedient and refused to follow God in faith? It wasn’t Moses. So why is Moses the one praying for divine mercy?
That question is a great place to pick up in the next post! See you then…
Soli Deo Gloria!