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Psalm 90

Wise Ways for Numbered Days

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • April 30, 2023

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Wise Ways for Numbered Days

Psalm 90


Intro: Let the countdown begin!


This morning we turn to Psalm 90. It is a Psalm that points us to the reality of time in our lives. That our time in this life is limited, time is short, our days are numbered, but God is eternal; considering these realities, we need wisdom from Him surrounding how to live each day He gives.

In terms of the timeline, Psalm 90 is recognized as the oldest Psalm in the book of Psalms. Though it is the oldest in terms of the timelines, we know that it contains timeless truths for today, including the famous Psalm 90:12, “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The Psalmist accentuates the importance of numbering our days, so that we would live according to wise ways. The word “wisdom” in the dictionary means “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.”

From verse 12 we learn that a heart of wisdom, a heart that discerns or judges what is true right, or lasting, is gained when we allow God to teach us to number our days. When we do, we learn what truly lasts beyond this temporary life, and in learning, we gain wisdom in how to live out our lives.  


Illus. Backstory?


  1. Keep God in His Proper Place


Psalm 90:1-2, Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.


  • Moses begins his prayer by making some important declarations about God. He recognizes his reality as the prayer goes on, but he gives God His proper place right from the beginning.


  • He has a great view of God, and he looks back through the generations acknowledging that God has been their dwelling place.


  • As Moses speaks of all generations, he recognizes who God had been to them.


  • A generation is a period of time, and Moses looks back and declares that God had been there, He was their dwelling place throughout it all.


  • In his generation, throughout their times enslaved in Egypt, throughout their wanderings in the wilderness, back to the generations before him, his parents Amran and Jochebed, throughout the times of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the days of Noah, all the way back to creation…It was the Lord who had been their dwelling place.


  • Moses places God as the dwelling place for His people throughout the generations.


  • The Hebrew word there for dwelling place is defined as a refuge, shelter, a dwelling, house, or den.


Illus. Den.


  • Next, Moses acknowledges that the Lord is the creator of the world, that He “gave birth to the earth and world, from everlasting to everlasting…”


  • In the wilderness, Moses would have seen mountains on the horizon, and he reflects on the truth that God existed before those mountains, it was God who formed the earth and world.


Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.


  • Moses declares God as creator, and speaks to His eternality.


  • The word everlasting is eternity. From eternity past to eternity future, God is God.


  • His description of God is that God is from everlasting and to everlasting, from eternity to eternity; it is a word that depicts continuous existence, and indefinite time, an unending past and unending future.


  • From Job 36:26 we know that the number of God’s years is unsearchable; Psalm 48:14, our God is forever and ever; Isaiah 40:28, Our God is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.


Colossians 1:16-17, By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.


1 Timothy 1:17, Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.


Deuteronomy 33:27, The eternal God is a hiding place.


  • Moses acknowledged that God has been there through the generations, that He is from everlasting to everlasting, and again gives the Lord His proper place, “you are God.”


  • Moses addresses his prayer to the Lord in verse one, declared some truths about him, and ended verse 2 by saying, “you are God!”


  • The idea is that He was always, and will forever be, God. At any period in the past, before the creation of the world, throughout all we have seen in world history, biblical history, our family history, our personal history, our present reality, and for all eternity He is God.


Illus. Card order.

Jeremiah 10:6, There is none like You, Lord; You are great, and Your name is great in might.


  • Moses gives God His proper place, He is God. And if wise ways are what will define our numbered days, we too must live our lives giving God His proper place.


  1. Choose His Ways, All of Your Days


Psalm 90:3-6


  • After declaring the truth about God’s eternality, Moses tells the truth about the morality of humanity.


  • Looking at humanity, Moses, said, mortals are headed back to dust, a result of Adam’s sin all the way back in the book of Genesis.


Genesis 3:19, For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.


  • This life we live, on earth will end. In this life it is important to recognize God’s eternality, and our mortality. This will help us live wisely because we know where things are headed.


Illus. Coming or going?

  • Moses continued to depict the brevity, or just how brief human life is in comparison to God’s perspective and eternity: “like yesterday when it passes by, or like a watch in the night (three to four hours), like a flood that sweeps through take what is in its path, like grass that flourishes and sprouts in the morning, and in the evening it wilts and withers away.


  • His point seems to be, that just as grass sprouts, flourishes, and then withers, physically, so do we.


Illus. Anti-Aging tech.


  • I want to keep in mind the context of Moses’ life, and what he was seeing as he led the Israelites in the desert.


  • The people were in the wilderness, and for 40 years as they wandered, the entire generation of people who were over the age of 20, would die in the wilderness. They were faithless and did not trust God, they therefore, were judged by God and would not enter the promised land.


  • It was 40 years of a generation passing away. Based on the size of Israel and the amount of people over 40, that would be a good amount of people passing away without entering the promised land.


  • The people did not just reject God at the beginning of the 40 years, however, there were continued opportunities to follow and trust Him, but most of them continued their own way.


  • Moses is in the middle of it, he acknowledges what is taking place: we have dwindled our days away, we are consumed by God’s anger, our guilty deeds before Him, our secret sins seen by Him.


  • The reality was, most of the Israelites chose, and continued to choose to go their own way rather than walk in the ways God had established for them.


1 Corinthians 10:6-11, These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did…


  • Moses is sharing His experience, the realities of all He was seeing.


  • And we are given examples of such things so that we would not crave evil things as they did, but to allow us to see the danger in such things and choose to trust God and walk according to His ways in our lives today.  


Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


  • What we know in Scripture is that sin has wages, and those wages are death.


  • Moses records a couple of words that he knows the sins of people had provoked, he speaks of anger and wrath which he knew were righteous responses to sin.


  • The word for anger is an interesting one. The literal translation is “nose.” It is figurative in that day for the word “anger” because the nose, or nostrils flaring up, would convey a person being upset by something.


  • 80 times in the Bible it is used in connection with another word which means “burn.” The two together means that a person’s “nose became hot,” or “hot nostrils,” which is translated “anger burned.”


  • In Exodus 34, the Lord tells Moses who He is, saying He is “slow to anger.” It is an expression that literally means “long of nose.”


Exodus 34:6-7(a), “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness and truth; who keeps faithfulness for thousands, who forgives wrongdoing, violation of His Law, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…


  • The Lord is compassionate and merciful, Moses is going to ask for God’s compassion in verse 14, yet he is also aware that that had gone against God, they had sinned against Him, they had provoked his anger.


  • There are times where God’s anger is provoked in Scripture, he does not walk around with a “hot nose” everywhere He goes, God is love. What we know about love and anger is that it is not “easily angered” but that does not mean it cannot be provoked to a righteous anger. Injustice, evil, and sin against Him are situations we see the word anger.


  • It is an expression ultimately of His justice and love toward the world, it reveals His displeasure with sin and the reality of what life is apart from His grace and mercy.


  • The wages of sin, a life turned away from Him is a life headed the wrong way and will reap the consequences of sin. But God has provided a way for us to be forgiven of sin and have life in Him.


Romans 5:8-9, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.


John 3:36, The one who believes in the Son has eternal life; but the one who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.


Romans 3:23-25(a), For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glory. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. (NLT)


Romans 8:1, Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.


  • Moses was aware of the reality, that the people had turned away from God’s way time and time again, they did not want wrath, it was a terrible thought to them, he knew they had dwindled their days away…And so he asks the Lord to help them live wisely for the rest of their days.


Psalm 119:71, It is good for me that I was afflicted, so that I may learn Your statutes.


  • In verse 10, Moses points back to the fact that life is short. He prayed, “as for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due strength, eighty years”


Psalm 90:12, So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.


Illus. Counting days.


Illus. Make it count.



  • Only Commit to What He Confirms


Psalm 90:13-17, Do return, Lord; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with Your graciousness, that we may sing for joy and rejoice all our days. Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, and the years we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants and Your majesty to their children. May the kindness of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands.


  • In verses 13 to 17, Moses displays a desire for the Lord to return and presence in his life, an understanding of the satisfaction that comes from God’s grace and mercy, and lastly, the realization that with God’s mercy would come joy and rejoicing.


  • I love that, “Lord, satisfy us in the morning with your graciousness so that we may rejoice and sing for joy!”


Lamentations 3:19-23, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.


  • Next, Moses asks that the work the Lord had for His servants to do would appear to them, and that His majesty and glory would appear to their children.


  • Lastly, that God’s kindness would be upon them, and that he would confirm the work of their hands, yes, confirm the work of their hands.


  • To confirm is to verify, approve, or firmly establish.


  • Moses wants God to confirm what they put their hands to.


  • This brings to mind the parable of talents, when the one given five got five more, and the one given two got two more, and both were told “well done good and faithful servant.”


Illus. Talk to me.


Psalm 90
1Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
3You turn mortals back into dust
And say, “Return, you sons of mankind.”
4For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or like a watch in the night.
5You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass that sprouts anew.
6In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it wilts and withers away.
7For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And we have been terrified by Your wrath.
8You have placed our guilty deeds before You,
Our hidden sins in the light of Your presence.
9For all our days have dwindled away in Your fury;
We have finished our years like a sigh.
10As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is only trouble and tragedy;
For it quickly passes, and we disappear.
11Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
12So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
13Do return, Lord; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
14Satisfy us in the morning with Your graciousness,
That we may sing for joy and rejoice all our days.
15Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have seen evil.
16Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
17May the kindness of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

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