Psalm 90:1-17 Participating in God's Work from a look at Moses' Life

Participating in God's Work from a Look at Moses' Life
Psalm 90:1-17

A) A Vision of God destroys self-confidence (Psalm 90:1-6)
B) A Vision of God reveals our sin (Psalm 90:7-12)
C) A Vision of God begins a Work of God (Psalm 90:13-17)

Jesus said, "My will is to do the will of my Father." May this also be our hearts' prayer. The only thing that should consume us is the accomplishment of our Father's will.

The Godly Man: When God Touches a Man's LifeIt is never too late to do God's will. We can always be doing God's will. But we need to be honest; it is easy to miss God's good will for our lives. By saying God's will, we are not speaking of His eternal purpose which is always completed in detail, but rather to God's opportunity for man to join Him in accomplishing His great works through their daily lives.

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Like Moses, we face two main problems getting God's work done. Both these problems originate in pride. In fact, we are really self-focused.

  • 1) Self-confident. We believe we can do all sorts of things for God. This often manifests itself in our youth when we are confident, energetic, healthy and full of hope.
  • 2) Self-pity. We are convinced we are so valuable to God but are disgruntled over not having opportunity to do more. This often occurs when we are older and experienced. Our health begins to fail. We feel 'cheated' out of life's opportunities. We believe our complaining and moaning are proper because our situation limits us from doing what we want.

It is interesting that Moses is the one who says that we might live to be seventy or even eighty (Psalm 90:10). This Psalm reveals that he has thought very little of his first eighty years of life. Life for him didn't begin until Yahweh God had met Him by the burning bush.

His first forty years were in the palace where he gained his self-confidence; his second forty years took place in the wilderness where he exhibited self-pity. These first eighty years were like spiritual boot camp where his self-confidence and self-pity were emptied out so that finally God could do His work in and through Moses' life.

Normal life

Physical Life

70-80 years

New Life

Spiritual Life

Once we die to ourselves

This new life starts once we are humbled before God. Our pride is dissipated. For Moses, this took place when he was 80. He met Yahweh God at the burning bush. All true service of God starts when we die to our pride and do the works of God.

Moses, I believe, experienced the same pride problems that we face, and yet God managed to do His mighty works through his life. Moses was self-confident. Raised in the greatest palace in the world at that time, he received all the top education, authority and relationships could bring. Sometimes we think God wants or needs these kinds of people. They don't bring glory to God, though. They strive in their flesh and fail to do what God really wanted. In this case, we remember how Moses killed a Hebrew oppressor. He fled Egypt. God used that training in Moses' life but not in the way he thought.

Moses fled into the wilderness for his second forty years of life. Now he was hopeless. He couldn't do anything for God there. Used to a metropolitan area, power, and control, now he had to face a handful of people, shepherd sheep and a lack of people to control and influence. Perhaps he wallowed about in a cloud of self-pity saying,

"God, I am important. You need me. If I was in another situation, I would ."

We sound spiritual but are, in fact, fleshly. We think God needs us.

Moses' three stages of Life: Palace> Wilderness> Deliverer. Psalm 90

These attitudes are improper. God needs a humble person to work through, a person who understands the world through the Lord's eyes. Fortunately, God knows how to bring us to the right place where His work can be done in our lives. What place is that? What needs to be done to our lives before we can be used by Him?

Let us look at Psalm 90 to find these answers. A vision of God and a true understanding of our lives puts us in a place where God's work can be done in our lives.

A) A Vision of God destroys self-confidence (Psalm 90:1-6)

Like Isaiah, Job, Noah and all the other great men of the scriptures, a true change of life comes from first meeting God. Moses was no different. Some people fake meeting God. It is quite obvious by what they do or say whether they truly have had a revelation of God's holiness.

Once a person meets God, he will stop talking about himself and his plans. Why? God is on their mind, the great eternal holy One. Let's observe how Moses starts praying by observing God's greatness.

1 (A Prayer of Moses the man of God.) Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born, Or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.
3 Thou dost turn man back into dust, And dost say, "Return, O children of men."
4 For a thousand years in Thy sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.
5 Thou hast swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
6 In the morning it flourishes, and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades, and withers away.

Psalm 90:5-6 says man's hard work will be all washed away like a flood. No more remembrance. Man will come and go like a flower that blooms for one day.

We often have a view of history, reality and time that is built around our own lives. Moses' view of life was shattered by His meeting with God. He finally got a picture of life from God's perspective. Moses begins his prayer in these verses just as the Lord has taught us. "Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name." We need to properly understand God's glory to enter into His presence.

Moses no longer thought much about his contribution to life and society or even justice. Man, along with his work, will turn back into dust. He will be forgotten, as if he was washed away in the flood. Man has created a great many things but they all are fighting against time and prophecy. Time with its elements tears buildings apart. But prophecy itself declares that the earth will be burned up before it is transformed.

Life Application

I encourage you to carefully evaluate those things that you think God greatly treasures. Many people want to feel good about themselves so they give, without thought to charities. They like to talk about their lives and this and that. They think they can easily do God's work. True significant work, however, is not judged by what is done now but by what endures to the praise of God's glory. Does not the Apostle Paul blow away our concepts of value and significance in 1 Corinthians 13 by simply saying that eloquence, prophesy, great acts of giving to the poor are nothing without love? Eternal significance has a lot to do with why we do things.

We see then that the key to significant works, whether they be prayers, charity or sacrifice are not formed by man's confidence in himself. Their view of their lives is too small. They haven't seen the world as God sees it. God doesn't need us, our money or our efforts. This vision of God enables us to see that God doesn't need us but gives us the privilege of being used by Him because of His grace.

B) A Vision of God Reveals our Sin (Psalm 90:7-12)

Another wrong view of life has its origins in self-pity. These kind of people talk a lot about their humble circumstances, " I'm achy," "in-laws treat me horrible", "no one loves me." They think that by their suffering they are doing God's great works. They, in fact, believe they do not deserve such treatment and could serve God better if they had better opportunities.

This kind of person often makes things sound worse than they are. But certainly, like the first group, they keep looking at themselves as the center focus of life. Moses, along with the other holy men, of God did not do this.

True humility is not speaking of one's difficult situations but clear recognition of how poor we have done in light of God's gift of life, delegated responsibilities and abilities. When a person meets God, he doesn't boast about what he has done. He instead sees all of his shortcomings. Listen to the words of Moses.

7 For we have been consumed by Thine anger, And by Thy wrath we have been dismayed.
8 Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, Our secret sins in the light of Thy presence.
9 For all our days have declined in Thy fury; We have finished our years like a sigh.
10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.
11 Who understands the power of Thine anger, And Thy fury, according to the fear that is due Thee?
12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.

First of all, he acknowledges that his aches, pains and problems of life are from God's anger with his sin. This is wisdom. Wisdom teaches us that evil's consequence of sin is different kinds of sufferings. He focuses not on the virtue of suffering but his iniquity that brought much of that suffering on. Death itself comes because of sin. God gives extra life, perhaps, but even this we don't deserve.

Instead of boasting about our time, freedom and life, he confessed that he was living under the wrath of God. We should not be so quick to criticize Moses' words. After all, he was the chosen one who saw God's glory. What is his conclusion in 90:12? Simply that we might plead to Him for an ability to be accountable for all of our days. We would not treat one day invaluable. And secondly, on each of these days, we would respond in wisdom. You, like I, no doubt are sorry over the days we have wasted. At the time, we perhaps thought we were getting the best of life, but in fact, we got the worse. We wasted a day.

Life Application

Retirement from the job might be necessary but retirement from God's work is never right. As long as He gives us breath, we will praise Him. We will seek out what He wants us to do with our time than what we want to do with our time. I am afraid for today's Christian who idly entertains his life away. They sit dazed on the sofa when they could be shaping the world by their prayers. "Oh Lord, teach us to number our days so that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom!"

C. A Vision of God begins a Work of God (Psalm 90:13-17)

Moses traveled through life and faced the troubles we face, but with more difficulty. He spent his first 80 years wallowing in his own life. He couldn't look further than the tip of his nose. How long will it take for us to get to the point in life where we finally could say that life was not about us? True life was about what God was doing.

When Moses finally realized the many years he had wasted, he didn't give up on himself. He didn't just figure that all was wasted. No. In this section, we sense a great passion that also comes from those who have really met God in His goodness.

13 Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Thy servants.
14 O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days Thou hast afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil.
16 Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, And Thy majesty to their children.
17 And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And do confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

The humble man and woman of God recognize that without God, they cannot do anything for God. They often see that many of the arguments they split friends with, the activities that they were involved in were but something to be sorry about. They seek God's forgiveness, but they also seek His blessing for the remaining years and days of their lives. They want everything to count for Him.

Many a Christian has gone astray when he claims he was saved by faith but sanctified by his hard work. God's grace must touch not only our delivery from Satan's hand but also the very things we do for the Lord in our lives. This is why in 90:14 Moses speaks about God's lovingkindness. The morning signifies a new start and indeed it is. He realizes that if God measured judgment out that He would have nothing left of his life.

But God is gracious. God does desire to work in and through our lives to accomplish His good work. Moses, in fact, bravely parades his faith by asking God to cause forth a blessing in the remaining years and days with what he has formerly wasted and lost. Since learning this principle, I have prayed for myself and others that God would restore their lives as much as they have faltered in the past.

Psalm 90:16 speaks about God's work as "Thy work." Moses finally realizes that it is not him who labors but he who has God's blessing will prosper. This takes most of us our whole lives to learn! Have you learned this important principle of life yet? Life is not about what we can or can't do. Life has nothing to do with freedom of expression. Life has to do with what Almighty God does His gracious and good will through our lives. It might require that we sacrifice, laugh, forgive, help, be sick, wounded or even die such as in Jesus' case. The point is that when we learn we are God's servants, we only care about serving Him. We take orders only from Him.

In 90:16, we see Moses wanting to see more of God's work. If anyone has seen God's work, I am sure it was Moses. But he was not content with a past revelation of God's glory. He wanted to see more. He couldn't wait to see more. He cried out, "Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, and Thy majesty to their children." Moses wanted all of God's work for his generation.

My heart is sad that so many Christians are retiring into spiritual apathy. They believe it is their Christian duty to complain or fuss about how wicked things are around them. Now, I agree it is bad and we must be vigilant about the increase of evil around us. But if we really mean what we say, we need to step into the boxing arena.

Life Application

You might say that I have never boxed in my whole life. Well, it is about time that you learn. We have a generation left. Yes, it might be the last generation left before the return of the Lord, but we want to die seeing God's work done. Perhaps you are asking what you can do? Let me ask you a few questions.

  • Do you fast? When was the last time? Why?
  • Have you stayed up late at night praying?
  • Have you joined Jesus in staying awake all night?
  • Have you cried out from your heart for this generation?

These are just a few questions to help us see whether we are passionate about being part of God's work. Perhaps you are wondering again what you could do. This is something to be concerned about. But you will never find out until you, like Moses, plead with God to show His works to you. If I speak to the congregation as a whole, may I ask you what work of God is being done in your midst? If you can't list a couple of things, then the vision for God's church here is not clear enough.

I love how Moses closes this Psalm, this prayer of his. He knows he is working on borrowed time. He also is convinced that God's work will not be done unless God steps in and does a great work that he himself could not do. He like David knew what the favor of the Lord was. He was captured by it. By this, I mean he had no other way to do God's work. "May the favor of the Lord our God be upon us."

He wanted change. He was desperate for it. And yet he would wait and anticipate God's favor to accomplish what God wanted. Note that it is this favor that would confirm the work of "our hands." It is not that Moses or others did nothing. It might be a raising of a staff in faith and obedience. Whatever part God gives us, we need to faithfully carry out. Fortunately, we will always be able to do it though I have found it always proves your faith.

Are your hands there trying to get God's work done? Are you desperately crying out to God for favor because you realize that you will be totally embarrassed if He doesn't help? This is typical. Moses had to stretch out his staff many a time. Would the waters part? Would judgment come? Would God who made the heavens actually move upon the surface of the earth? He found that having the right humble heart, he could count on God to do marvelous things.


Let's summarize things. Our views of life are so narrow that many of us do not realize that we are wasting our days on earth. God wants to work in and through us. We need God to meet us. We need Him to meet us in some way that we see Him in His glory and power. We then see how limited life and time is. We are humbled that God would even give us a day to live. We see that only what God does counts. We no longer are content with what we can do. We want God's work. We have made a commitment to be part of what God is doing. We look to Him until He shows us and others what He wants.

What he reveals is always challenging but we go for it. We want to go out faithfully serving Him. We want to be part of God's great works throughout the world.

What is it that God is now saying to you? Is He trying to change your attitude toward His work? Is He revealing something He wants to do? I tell you that I am not preaching for nothing. Moses' prayer was recorded to move a people like us to do God's work. Moses once spoke, "Stand back and you shall see the glory of the Lord!" But he refused to live for the past. He wanted to see God's work in his generation.

Oh, that God would do a wondrous work in our hearts so that we would desire His work, believe Him to do that work and take our feeble hands to do that very work. Satan fears not the many activities of Christians; he fears those broken and humble people of God who offer up prayers in faith to accomplish God's work. May we be this people who shine as bright stars in a very, very dark world that as people see our good deeds that they may glorify God the Father.

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Paul J. Bucknell