The Psalm of the Wanderings
Psalm 90:1-17
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Throughout this psalm two threads are twisted, the one sombre with gloom, the other bright with golden light. We will not dwell on the former. There is plenty of that already in the lives of most of us. Suffice it to say that to Moses the plaintive chords of sorrow appears to have been composed of three notes — the rapid flight of the ages, the anger of God incurred by sin, and the afflictions which beset human life. But opposite to these the aged lawgiver gives three thoughts, on which he rested his soul.

I. GOD. What great thoughts Moses had of God.

1. As Creator. To God he ascribes the birth of the mountains, which in their grandest aspects and in magnificent confusion were heaped in that Sinaitic peninsula. To God also he ascribes the moulding touch which shaped the universe of matter, and gave form to the earth. What though seas and rivers, glacier action and earthquake, were his graving tools, yet the maker and former of all things was God.

2. As eternal. He is not only God, El, the strong. He is Lord, Jehovah, the I AM. And he labours hard to give us some true conception of His everlastingness. He speaks of the eighty years of human life as being, in comparison with it, short and soon; much in the same way as we should describe the duration of an insect's life, which passes through all the stages of existence from youth to age, between dawn and sunset in comparison with the life of man. He recites the generations of mankind, and describes their passing in to God like guests into a hostelry, their life to His being brief and transitory as a night-sojourn when compared with the permanence of the building in which it is spent. He goes back through the long process of creation, and says that God comprehends it in the extent of his being as a very little thing.

3. But the thought that helps us most is the conception of God as the dwelling-place, the asylum, the home of the soul. Moses needed it, if ever a man did.

II. GLADNESS-MAKING MERCY. As Moses reviewed the desert pilgrimage it seemed one long line of transgression, each halting-place marked by its special graves, the monuments of some sad outbreak. He pined for gladness; he knew that there was gladness in the heart of the blessed God, enough to make him glad, and not him alone but all who were weary and heavy laden throughout the precincts of the camp; and having confessed their sins he now turned to God his exceeding joy and said, "Make us glad." And his demand for gladness was not a small one. He asked that it might be according to the days in which they had been affiliated and the years in which they had seen evil. It was a great request, but not unreasonable, for days and years of sorrow often give us capacity for receiving blessing. Let us, too, ask Him to put gladness into our hearts. Let us believe that it will honour and please Him if we dare to lay claim to blessedness, such as He alone can give, and when He gives does so with full measure, pressed down, and running over. The plea must be made to His mercy. We have no claim on any other attribute of God. And beyond that we must ask Him to satisfy us. We have sought satisfaction in all beside: in health and flow of spirits, in success and friendship, in books and affairs; but we have found it nowhere, and we shall never find it unless in Himself.

III. WORK, OR CO-OPERATION BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. Moses' complaint about the shortness of life indicates that he was no idler. The days were not long enough for all he had to do, and therefore life seemed to pass so quickly through his hands. Amid all that made him sad, he found solace in the thought that what he did would last. The leaves fall, but each, ere it finds a grave in the damp autumn soil, has done something to the tree that bore it, which will be a permanent gain for summers yet unborn. The preacher dies, but his words have furnished impulses to souls which have become part of their texture and will be part for ever. The workman finds a nameless grave beneath the shadow of the great unfinished minister, but the fabric rises still and will rise; his work will be part of it for ever, a joy and beauty for coming generations. But after all our work in itself is not sufficient to resist the disintegrating forces of time, which, more than all else, tries and tests its quality. And, therefore, we need to ask that God's work may become manifest through ours. In my work let Thine appear; through my weak endeavours may that hand achieve which made the worlds and built cosmos out of chaos. "Let Thy work appear." And in asking that God's work may appear, we make. a request which involves His glory. The one cannot appear without the other, so that in all coming time children and children's children may behold it, and as that glory shines upon their faces it must transform and transfigure them so that the beauty of the Lord our God will be upon them.

(F. B. Meyer, B.A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Prayer of Moses the man of God.} Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

WEB: Lord, you have been our dwelling place for all generations.

The Prayer of Moses
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