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A Sober Song of Moses

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2022 7:00 am

A Sober Song of Moses

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 18, 2022 7:00 am

There are times in our lives when we pause from all the clamor to reflect on the brevity of our days. For the believer, those times ultimately point us to our eternal home with God. This week we’re studying Psalm 90, the only Psalm of Moses, as he reflects on the shortness of men’s days and the qualities of an eternal God.

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Only one saw the software is attributed to Moses and its mood is somber, a Psalm of reflection, noting the brevity of life and the greatness of God, and ending with an appeal for the outpouring of his grace to establish the work of our hands are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet projects with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. You have been our dwelling place for all generations with those words Moses opens his song acknowledging that God is been the refuge of his people. The God whose defended and protected them in the Monday turn to when they've aroused his displeasure. Let's join Dr. Boyce as he examines Psalm 90 and shows us the heart and mind of Moses, God's chosen servant as he reflects on the weakness of man and the greatness of God. I don't know of any passage in the Bible that's more appropriate to the beginning of a new year and Saul Monday but that's not why were studying out this morning.

It's just come up next series of our studies of the songs we been doing that for sometimes providential month and is one of my theological professor friends reminds me all things are providential but this is a Providence that we are aware of and for which were particularly thankful. Psalm 90 is the only song in this folder that's attributed to Moses, but it's not the only song he wrote I've called it song of Moses Psalm itself in setting calls it a prayer. Moses. But there are two other song source songs oneness the song, the people sign after they had been delivered brought out of Egypt, and God had destroyed the armies of Pharaoh and the Red Sea. I sang it after the deliverances recorded in the 15th chapter of Exodus, then there's a another song of Moses comes toward the end of his life just before he is about to be taken up into Mount Nebo where he was to die. It's a challenge to the people.

The first is a song of pure joy and jubilation. The second is more serious and reminds them of their failures over the many years of their wandering in the wilderness and of God's judgment and challenges them to be faithful as to songs or poetry.

Also by him, but this is perhaps the greatest of all. Psalm 90 is particularly sober and supposed personal of all these other poetic compositions. I think there is a setting for setting I think comes from the 20th chapter of numbers and it's where Moses has just lost Miriam and at the end of the chapter he will lose apparently died there in the desert. Miriam was his sister Erin was his brother and in between those two deaths were also told the story of the sin of Moses and striking the rock. How there are scholars who would question whether this law is even by Moses.

I take the headings of the Psalm seriously and believe it is even among those who would attributed to Moses be some doubt whether that's the background seems to me that this kind of things that happen there in that chapter 2 Moses is experienced or the end of his life are an apt background for what the Psalm itself sense we kind of look at that and then come to this Psalm as an inspired reflection on numbers 20 in spite of the fact that these sentiments are reflected in the Psalm. The song itself doesn't have a defeated or bitter tone as a tone of a sober reflection on what are indeed sober aspects of life, death and sin lowballed one of the great German commentator says there does not appear to be any trace of bitterness or of undue pessimism, just a plain realistic thinking that's what marks these words. Well I suppose it's act that has commended it to Christian people so often certainly commended Isaac Watts.

He wrote a great cam which we frequently sing our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to calm our shelter from the stormy blast our eternal home sing that when we come to the end of the service today is so wonderful poetic expression based on the words of this song like Moses Watts was well aware of the insubstantial and brief quality of human life body was also aware that those who rest in God have an eternal home and him and that's what both him and the Psalm are about.

I said that Numbers 20 is probably the background for the solvent so it's worth taking a look at those events that I mentioned earlier if it was written after this, Miriam and Aaron have died.

Moses assumed the die sin of Moses. In the meantime has kept them from entering the promised land because that was God's judgment on them for striking rock and it's out of that kind of background that we enter into the tall mood of the song, the death of Miriam, first of all, is only told briefly in the chapter. It only takes five or six words of English and yet it must've been a very traumatic and terrible thing for Moses presumably was very close to his sister, she was not without her fault she had participated with her brother and one of the rebellions took place against Moses unique authority in God and judged her for that but nevertheless they were close been close in Egypt. It was Miriam who had told the daughter of Pharaoh that she would find somebody to take care of that little baby that had been put in the ark, she went and got his mother Jaco bed and then undoubtedly offer their lives. They have been close, but now Miriam dives and then there's the sin of Moses and striking the rock something that we tend to sympathize with Moses. For after all he was nearly hundred and 20 years old at this time and he been leading the Elliotts group of people for 38 years really had been a work in tanker us in difficult and here he gets to the, the and in their complaining. Again, God had provided for them year after year after year.

There saying what a dialer does. We don't have any water. God tells them to speak to the rock and it will bring forth water. Moses is angry he strikes the rock instead of speaking to it. He takes some of the glory to himself. Perhaps not intentionally set. Must we bring forth water out of this rock for you then seem like a whole lot. Dawson seems like a small thing. The Gothic very seriously God take all sin seriously and as a result of that Moses wasn't able to go in the land he played with God. He wanted to be able to do it. He come to the culmination of his career.

He wanted that Passover Jordan God said no. So you have that sad element and then finally at the death of our Erin was his brother.

He worked very closely with Aaron. Aaron was the high priest it was that moment of transition for the people they had a 30 day month long time of morning or hour, and although the death is reported factually without any emotional overtones. All the stories reported. That way you can be sure that it was an emotional very distressing time for Moses of down time for Moses as we would say well with that background, we come to Psalm 90 itself is a reflection on human mortality and the brevity of life, but at the same time that expresses. As I indicated, the client confidence in God, who is the eternal home of the believer now are few people on earth who have had, probably as strong a sense of the greatness and eternal grandeur of God is Moses and their profits have expressed that brilliant language. Isaiah was caught up to heaven and saw the Lord seated upon his throne with all of the glory of the temple, but Moses. After all, spoke to God face-to-face qualification of Moses it's mentioned several times he was there on the mountain with them for 40 days receiving the law on the cloud and the thunder. All of that was a great time in his life and God placed them in the craft of the rock covered in his hand and passed by and declared his name to Moses the Lord, the Lord, long-suffering, compassionate God, and so on. Moses above all people have a sense of the greatness and the grandeur of God is not surprising that he begins the Psalm that way, Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Moses was aware, probably more than most of us in this area as well. How brief life is to be hundred and 20, but he was going to die before he entered the promised land, but that the same time he began with an awareness of the greatness of God. God is the one sure eternal foundation of all things. Everything comes from God. Everything is based upon God. Everything is anchored in God. Everything has to do with God. And so the Christian who is anchored in God has a sure foundation. Moses calls God a dwelling place, but that has overtones that don't come across with a simple translation in English also means a rescue because of course in ancient times. If you would enter into someone's home or dwelling place, however humble it may be a goodly attempt out in the desert. That was a refuge because it was the responsibility of the owner of the tent of the home to defend his guest at all cost. Even at the cost of his life. That same word is translated refuge in other places. In Deuteronomy 3327. For example, it's another one of the songs of Moses and this and other verbal echoes between Psalm 90 and things that appear in the Pentateuch are additional evidence for the fact that Saul really was written by Moses as the title says well we need to apply that we are talking about God being an eternal refuge for his people is God your refuge. Are you anchored him certainly don't have a fix refuge here affects dwelling place here. All things are passed away may seem to last a long time. You may build for years, but it doesn't last say that the people of God know that their home is in God and therefore they look not to a passing earthly city of the passing earthly home but that city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God as it tells us in Hebrew, was the case of Abraham, of all the others we have are home and God now and we are looking forward to that home that he has gone to prepare Jesus is going to prepare for us in heaven. Paul had that vision. He said when he was writing to the Corinthians.

We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal God is and see these eternal God, we need to rest in him. Now, in contrast with the stability and the eternity of God. Moses now directs our attention to the weakness of man and of the brevity of his earthly life. Six.

Read parts of this is such wonderful poetry. We need to have it in our minds.

He writes you turn men back to dust saying return to dust, O sons of man thousand years in your site are like a day that is just gone by. Like a watch in the night you sweep man away in the sleep of death like the new grass in the morning though in the morning. It springs up nearby evening. It is dry and withered dry arid climate of the near East that would often be the case that night. Rain would cause grass to spring up in the freshness of the morning. Brown bills would suddenly become covered with a shade of green that is the day wore on us the son lays down in all its eastern fury that grass. It was sobering in the morning would dry up and by nightfall they would all be brown again.

Moses say life is really like that spring up is not very long before it's gone and we wither away. You know, the apostle Peter picks up in verse four about David being like a thousand years with the Lord, and so on.

In second Peter 38 he said with the Lord day is like a thousand years a thousand years are like a day. His point there.

In his letter is an artisan slow bringing about his judgment on the return of Jesus Christ.

Because thousand years are just like a day the Lord thousands of years can go by God's point of view, it is in any delay of all that's not exactly that point Moses is making Moses is not saying that time goes by quickly for God. Moses point is a time goes by quickly for us. Life goes by very very quickly is not glossing over that is not pretending that it's different from that excitement really wanted is to be immortal to be a man or woman, even if we should Linda be a thousand years old as Methuselah.

Almost it still only as a day passes quickly a day that is gone by, or as a watch in the night. Later on in the Psalm is going to speak of the length of our days being 70 years or 80, if you have the strength verse 10.

I notice what I've been visiting very elderly people on their birthday. Sometimes that there are two things are very proud about. And they always talk about.

One is that they live so long and count the years go to visit them. You know my 82nd birthday 87th birthday.

My 93rd birthday. I want to tell you that that's the one thing that brought up the second thing is that so many people remember them by sending them cards will point out I got 13 cards here this year. Now that's all very good and I'm proud of that might rejoice in that with them, but you know Linda be 100 hundred and two stretching what Moses says here but sooner or later fall over say, and though there may be people who remember you and send cards and time of those people are gonna die as well really going to be forgotten only one person that doesn't forget shipments God say and there's only one person that can establish your work and make it come for all eternity. That's got that's what Moses is saying is he is addressing a very serious thing here.

Most of us don't think along these lines, because we don't want to be disturbed by thoughts like this week. We just cannot push and I saw night is only in moments of crises that we begin to think along these lines, Moses is bringing it up.

He wants us to think about it because he wants us to rest in God and the third section of the Psalm verses seven through 12 recognizes that man's greatest problem is not just his frailty and the shortness of his life.

Fact we die so soon also goes on to talk about his sin and that our sin brings us under the wrath of Almighty God. In fact, it is the sin that is the cause of the death and misery that is talked about earlier.

There are phrases here in these verses that make us think that Moses is thinking about Adam and Eve and their fall into sin. But Moses must also have been thinking about his own sin because the company of the death of Aron and Miriam have the story of his sin striking the rock got you here in saying that as you read these words. Having that in his mind. We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation you have sent our iniquities before you are secret sins in the light of your presence. Who knows the power of your anger or your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you a profound set of statements because Moses here it is not just doing what he did earlier. You see, earlier when he talked about the eternity of God he made a contrast with the brevity of human life. Here he talks about the sin of man in you and expected, by contrast to talk about the holiness of God, but that is what he's concerned about. Instead, he brings it in the connection with the wrath of God because what he wants to say is that our sin is the cause of our misery. So unless God does something about our sin. There's no hope for is anywhere. Does that.

Of course we know in Jesus Christ, Moses says that sin leads to death. You aware sin always leads to death, spiritual death, of course, apart from the work of Jesus Christ are destined to perish eternally, but also the death of other things, the death of dreams and hopes and plans and relationships in even our own health times because of some sins are aware of animals as well as you treat sin is likely as many of us do the same with David who can discern his elder errors. Forgive my hidden faults pray. Keep your servant also from willful sins may not rule over me try to upright life before God.

While the fourth section of the Psalm verses 13 through 17. This is an appeal to God for the outpouring of his grace is that we may be satisfied with God himself and that our work might endure something of lasting value. Even though we ourselves pass quickly away or get money. Read a little bit of it relented.

Lord, how long will it be have compassion on your servants satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we might sing for you and be glad all our days because glad for as many days as you have afflicted us for as many years as we've seen trouble your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children in the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us, establish the work of our hands for us. Yes, establish the work of our hands me back up one verse to verse 12 point out that here in this concluding section of the Psalm, Moses makes three petitions says at the start of the Psalm of this is the prayer of Moses here petitions that are part of that prayer number one. Teach us to number our days are right that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Assessment prayer for God to tell us how long were going to live as a going to be 70 years or 80 so that in the certain sense we can come check off the days and say well, and I have three years and 34 days (three euros and 32 days left but a question of that of all, it's rather a prayer that God will help us to live holy lives, numbering our days aright means to see our days in the light of God's eternity and make them count that make each day count for God and we do that well first we have to recognize lights brevity.

That's what Moses and been chiefly writing about in the Psalm.

I suppose it Moses had been a lesser quality is a great poet, but even a lesser quality might have written the verses that probably stick more in our minds we say only one life be passed only what's done for Christ will last is not great poetry but it's true is what this is about family in order to make each day count for God. We have to live each day for God Bible student wrote wisely. We cannot apply our hearts and the wisdom was instructed by Moses, except we number every day is our last possible day. Remember Jesus parable about the rich man recalled a fool this man had so much he wanted to say Valenti to know what to do with it. So he said to himself. I'll build bigger and better barns.

It's like saying I'll take out a new brokerage account to handle all my extra money and see what I can do with my investments.

Jesus didn't commend him for that. Jesus called him a fool because here he was laying up for tomorrow and Jesus said you don't know this very night your soul is going to be required of you and then was going to possess all those things accumulate up Jesus was telling us we have to live each day as God giving you resources. Don't tell me how you use them tomorrow or next year. The end of your life, your retirement are using them. Now you might not limb to retire you doing for God right now. Teach us to number our days aright, we might gain a heart of wisdom.

That's what that has to do with exactly that. And here's the second petition satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days, Alexander McLaren, one of the other great preachers and commentators says the only thing that will secure lifelong gladness is a heart satisfied with the experience of God's love what he means by that is nothing else really well satisfy the human heart ultimately accept God.

So if I can apply it to do it this way. Stop trying to fill your life with things that Americans are good at filling our lives with things more things we know to do it specially now things for Christmas possible things in the parish hall and pass away.

Don't even put your hope in other people are going to die and there's certainly going to disappoint you, but God is not dying, God does not disappoint. St. Augustine said you made us for yourself, hearts are restless, unsatisfied, until they rested.

You, here's the third petition for 17 establish the work of our hands were she a establish work of our hands. You see at the Maryann with his weakness and his sin before their Moses appeals to the grace of God to make what he had been trying to for God worthwhile.

Been trying pretty hard for a long long lifetime course God can do without us. He doesn't need anything from us. He is able of the stones to raise up children Weber and Jesus taught us that that's only one side of the story the other side is this if God is put us in this life to do something good for him. And it's important that we do it and that we do it well. Another commentator wrote so long as we are here, we are required by him for something.

Let us therefore find out what that is and do it and why we do it, let us pray to God may establish it so that it may remain the blessed posterity. Moses.

Moses did what God called him to do. God bless what Moses did busted in the history of the people of Israel, of which he was a large part busted in the writing. The first five books of the Bible which are attributed Moses authorship, even blessed in the writing of the Psalm Psalm studying God blessed Moses what he did his blessed compass generations of God's people. One final thing you know for centuries. This sober song of Moses is Beretta funeral services easy to see why it recognizes the shortness of life but also the truth that God is able to establish the work of our hands making what we do for God, eternally one God to do that with you. Don't you want what you are doing now, the matter count. Don't you want to be a blessing. Other people I'm sure you do.

We all do, but there's only one way that's ever going to happen. The only way it's ever going to come for eternity and really count as God establishes the work is to be God's work because all things human pass away.

Trust that he will do that that would use so that others come after you will be blessed because of you and so on that day comes when you die and you stand before God in heaven hear him say those words belong to hear well done good and faithful servant come in and enjoy your master's happiness. We will say thank you Jesus. Amen. Father, we thank you for the Psalm for sober reflections on the brevity of life connection between sin and death judgment. But above all because of its awareness of who you are and what is there for the one who by faith will come to rest and you grant that we may do that in here are petitions as well. These very petitions that Moses made. That's what we want to pray, teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days in this one to establish the work of our hands. Yes, establish the work of our hands. In Jesus name, amen.

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