Question: "What can we learn from the prayer of Moses (Psalm 90)?"
Answer: Psalm 90 marks the beginning of Book Four of Psalms. Psalm 90 is the oldest psalm, written by Moses by the year 1440 BC. It is entitled “From Everlasting to Everlasting” and is noted as “A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.”
What can we learn from the prayer of Moses? First, Moses emphasizes the eternal nature of God. Verses 1–2 declare, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place / throughout all generations. / Before the mountains were born / or you brought forth the whole world, / from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Second, Moses speaks of the fragile nature of humanity in verses 3–6. Verse 5 says, “Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— / they are like the new grass of the morning.” Our time on earth is short.
Third, Moses emphasizes humanity’s sinful nature and his shortcomings before a perfect God. Verses 7–8 note, “We are consumed by your anger / and terrified by your indignation. / You have set our iniquities before you, / our secret sins in the light of your presence.”
Fourth, Moses stresses how short life is for people in comparison with God’s eternal nature in verses 9–12. Moses says, “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” (Psalm 90:10). This verse also teaches an existence after death. We do not just “end”; rather, we “fly” to somewhere else. Verse 12 adds the lesson we should glean from the brevity of earthly life: “Teach us to number our days, / that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Fifth, Moses prays for God’s grace upon His people in verses 13–17. Verse 17 concludes, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; / establish the work of our hands for us— / yes, establish the work of our hands.” Without God, our work amounts to nothing.
In Psalm 90 Moses focuses on God’s greatness, our human weakness, and our need for the Lord to provide grace for our daily needs. We are to seek wisdom and to live each day to its fullest for the glory of God.
Of great importance is Moses’ emphasis to “number our days.” While this poetic psalm may not literally mean we are to count each day by number, it does focus on the need to live every day for maximum impact. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16). God calls us to use every moment of every day to honor Him.