The shortest amount of time ever recorded is one-trillionth of a billionth of a second, or a “zeptosecond.” Scientists discovered this measure when they wanted to see how long it took for a single particle of light to cross a hydrogen molecule. (The answer: 247 zeptoseconds.)
To Moses, life seemed as fleeting as a zeptosecond. Humans typically live to be “seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures” (v. 10). Psalm 90, written by Moses, begins with the worshipful observation that God is everlasting. He is our “dwelling place” (vv. 1–6). This phrase means home or refuge and is particularly meaningful considering the many years Israel wandered in the wilderness.
Moses observes that when we sin, God is righteously angry (vv. 7–12). Moses saw a lot of that during his ministry! This fact—our sins cannot be hidden—undercuts our temptation to pride. We cannot depend on ourselves in the slightest but must rely utterly on God’s mercy.
Given that life is this way, we must continually pray for God’s wisdom and compassion (vv. 13–17). Wisdom can be learned from repentance, discipline, and suffering. In faith, we understand that God will relent from His anger and continue to act with unfailing love. Thus, we will “sing for joy and be glad all our days” (v. 14). When Moses prayed, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,” one cannot help but wonder if he was remembering the daily morning provision of manna.
Moses’ closing prayer was that God would “establish the work of our hands” (v. 17). One can easily picture him praying this from the top of Mount Nebo before he died. Only in the Lord can our lives have meaning and purpose!
>> Make this psalm by Moses your own today by praying it back during your devotional time. You might simply pray it aloud, you might use the same topics in your own prayer, or take some other approach.
“If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:11–12).