Time and Eternity

Scripture Passage: 
Psalm 90:1-17
Attached audio files: 

INTRODUCTION: One of our most precious commodities is time. We struggle with the proper use of time. This can be demonstrated in many of our common sayings: I don’t have enough time; there’s not enough time in a day; how time flies; how do you find the time; and others. This psalm begins with the eternity of God, powerfully expresses the brevity of man’s years, and closes with help on how to number our days. Certainly, the eternal God can direct us in the numbering of our days.

This psalm is called “A Prayer of Moses the man of God.” It is the only psalm said to be written by Moses. It is interesting that a man who lived to the age of 120 with good eyesight and strength in his limbs (Deuteronomy 34:7) is the same man who wrote about the shortness of life. Note that this psalm is called a prayer. Therefore, in your study of this psalm, you should be seeking for the prayer requests that Moses made.

  1. THE GREATNESS OF GOD (Psalm 90:1-4)
    1. As the Dwelling Place of Man (Psalm 90:1)
      1. Man exists only by the will of God (Acts 17:28).
      2. Man exists only in the place created by God (Genesis 2:8).
      3. God cannot be contained by man (Isaiah 66:1-2).
      4. God is the habitation that men should seek (Psalm 91:9; John 6:56; 1 John 3:24).
    2. In His Eternal Existence (Psalm 90:2)
      1. Before creation
        1. Before the mountains were brought forth
        2. Before thou hadst formed the earth and the world
      2. From everlasting (Micah 5:2)
      3. To everlasting
      4. Thou art God - present tense.
        1. Points to the eternal presence of God
        2. He is the great I AM (Exodus 3:14).
        3. He has no beginning and no end.
        4. He inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15).
        5. He is not limited by time.
    3. In His Superiority to Man (Psalm 90:3)
      1. He turns man to destruction (Job 34:14-15). This likely speaks of the destruction of death. Unlike God, man is made subject to the corruption and destruction of death.
      2. He says, “Return, ye children of men” (Genesis 3:19; Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 104:29; Ecclesiastes 12:7).
    4. In His Superiority to Time (Psalm 90:4)
      1. A thousand years are but as yesterday when it is past (see also 2 Peter 3:8).
        1. Note: The addition of the words “when it is past” is key.
        2. Man sees his present day as lasting an eternity, but a day that is past is seen as a swift moment in time.
      2. A thousand years are as a watch in the night.
        1. Note: A watch is a division of time.
        2. Originally, the night was divided into three watches, but later it became common to have four divisions or four watches.
        3. The psalmist is saying that a thousand years in God’s sight is comparable to a few hours for man.
  2. THE BREVITY OF MAN (Psalm 90:5-11)
    1. Likened to (Psalm 90:5-6, 9)
      1. Being removed by a flood (Psalm 90:5a)
      2. A sleep (Psalm 90:5b)
      3. Grass (Psalm 90:5c-6; Psalm 103:15-16)
      4. A tale that is told (Psalm 90:9)
    2. Helpless Before God (Psalm 90:7-8)
      1. Consumed by the wrath of God (Psalm 90:7)
      2. Revealing our secret sins (Psalm 90:8; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Luke 12:2; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5)
    3. Full of Labor and Sorrow (Psalm 90:10)
      1. Reaching only to 70 or 80 years old (2 Samuel 19:35)
      2. Their strength being labor and sorrow (Job 14:1-5)
    4. Cut Away in Wrath (Psalm 90:10-11)
      1. It is soon cut off, and we fly away (Psalm 90:10).
      2. Who knoweth the power of God’s anger? (Psalm 90:11)
  3. THE APPLICATION OF WISDOM GAINED (Psalm 90:12-17)
    1. The Numbering of Days (Psalm 90:12)
      1. Spiritual value of days
        1. Growth involves learning to give our days to God: not too small; not too large.
          1. An hour is too short to have real meaning.
          2. A week is too long for us to comprehend.
        2. Therefore, we are told to number our days.
        3. We must learn to give to God one day at a time (2 Corinthians 4:16).
      2. Numbering of days is a learning process.
      3. God must teach us how to number our days.
      4. Then we are ready to apply our hearts unto wisdom.
        1. Application of the principle is not made until the heart is affected.
        2. Our feet can apply what we learn without a change of heart.
        3. But a change of heart always brings about a change in the life.
    2. The Need for God’s Blessings (Psalm 90:13-17)
      1. The need for God’s return (Psalm 90:13; Psalm 80:14)
        1. Return, O LORD.
        2. And let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
      2. The need for God’s mercy (Psalm 90:14; Proverbs 8:17; Ecclesiastes 12:1)
        1. Satisfy us early with thy mercy.
        2. That we may rejoice and be glad all our days
        3. An early glimpse of the mercy of God has a prolonged effect on the people of God.
      3. The need for God’s gladness (Psalm 90:15; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 119:71)
        1. Make us glad.
        2. According to days of affliction and years of evil
      4. The need for renewed sight (Psalm 90:16)
        1. Let thy work appear unto thy servants.
        2. Let thy glory appear unto their children.
        3. Note: Moses asked God to give the present generation a renewed vision of His work, while giving the future generation a vision of His glory. Perhaps this was because the present generation had witnessed the glory of God and merely needed to see His work again, but the future generation had not yet witnessed the glory of God.
      5. The need for God’s beauty (Psalm 90:17a; Psalm 27:4)
      6. The need for established work (Psalm 90:17b); The work was the work of man’s hands, but it was of little value unless established by the Lord.

CONCLUSION: Yesterday is unchangeable; tomorrow is unknowable; and today is unrepeatable. But God is in charge, and you have a purpose from Him, so seize the moment and serve Him with all your heart.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 28:4

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.