Scripture: For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. Psalm 90:7-8 ESV
Observation: The compiler of Book 4 of the Psalter attributes Psalm 90 to Moses (the only such psalm of the 150). While Book 3 (Psalms 73-89) primarily addresses the failed monarchy, consequential Exile, and Israel’s associated faith crisis, Book 4 (Psalm 90-106) focuses on an appropriate response. Placing Moses’ prayer at the beginning of Book 4, the editor points his readers to the birth of their nation when Yahweh appointed Moses to lead Israel out of captivity toward the Promise Land. Accordingly, as theologian J. A. Grant contends, Psalm 90 responds to Psalm 89, saying: “Do not worry too much about the loss of the monarchy because Yahweh is still the true King! He was King in the time of Moses before David had ever been born, and he is still King now after the loss of the line of David. Take a long view of things and remember that Yahweh always reigns, regardless of the events of our human history!”
Takeaway: Taking a “long view” also necessitates pondering why God has directed his wrath on his people. Verse 8 (above) offers insight. Israel foolishly assumed that Yahweh could not see their secret sins. They had sadly mistaken his longsuffering for unattentiveness. And like any loving parent who sees their child succumb to the ravishes of sin that distances the relationship, Israel’s actions evoke the Lord’s anger. But his anger is always righteous and will bring his children to the “end” (verse 7) of their idolatrous coping mechanisms. It is in this place of helplessness that our God rescues us from exile by first bringing our hidden sins into the light of his presence (verse 8). Convicted of our sins, his Holy Spirit leads us to godly sorrow that leaves no regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). And as he helps us develop godly habits to replace our self-destructive ones, he reassures us that our God reigns and will rescue us no matter what lies ahead.
Our response? Knowing that our God reigns and rescues, let us rise above our fears and get on with kingdom work. And along the way, let’s join with Moses and regularly pray: “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (verses 15-17)
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you always reign over our fallen world. So by your mercy and grace, would you please arrest our fears, expose our hidden sins, and restore us to you, that we might reengage in the work of your kingdom for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling