I recently read Psalm 90 backwards, not literally, but reversing the development of the themes and ideas. The writer, Moses we are told, is concerned about the opportunities and impact of the present (17). But route he takes to finding significance in the present moment reveals a worldview in which he learns wisdom as he sits under the supreme majesty of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
First Reading. Read the passage slowly, we are reading the words that God-breathed.
Psalm 90. A prayer of Moses the man of God.
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” 4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning: 6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. 10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. 12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. 16 May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
Now that you are familiar with the passage, read it a second time. Think about God’s revelation of himself and the writer’s place in the big picture.
Also, listen with the ear of your heart for one of the following:
- A word or phrase, a detail that stands out to you.
- Where you find yourself in the passage?
Read the passage for the third time, slowly.
As you do so and for a few minutes afterwards, reflect on one of the following:
- The word or phrase that stood out to you. Why do you think these words resonated with you?
- How do you feel in response to this worldview? What draws you? What are you thinking or feeling about God: Father, Son and Spirit?
- What significant "work of your hands" requires God’s input today?
Give yourself a few minutes to do this.
Then ask God, "How does this connect with my life today?"
What do I need to know, or be, or do?
Respond in Prayer
Make a fourth & final reading.
Then, talk to God about what you think the Spirit might have said to you, or what came to your mind.
Pray in whatever direction you are led. You might thank God for something or ask God for something.
Do as you are led. You may wish to simply be with God, to you still in his presence. You may wish to pay attention to God, pondering especially, "how did God seem in the passage?"
What about the LORD makes you want to worship him, or at least be with him? Sit in the companionship of the Divine—the one who invites you to come away and be with him.
This was adapted from Willard's “Hearing God” (ISBN 9780830869923) who adapted it from our new friend and mentor, Guigo II.