As another year draws to a close it is useful to look back and reflect on what has happened this past year, not just in the world around us, but also in our personal lives. Often on New Year’s eve, Psalm 90 is read, and why not. This Psalm is ascribed to Moses and it takes the form of a prayer. In verses 1-2, the Psalmist acknowledges God’s power, greatness and His eternity. In contrast, verses 3-6 highlights our frailty. In verses 7-12, the Psalmist speaks about our sinfulness and its consequences, namely death. In the closing verses, 13-17, the Psalmist calls on God to bless them with His wisdom so that they may count their days correctly, as well as show His compassion towards them and to bless them with happy days, so that they can tell others about Him as their great God.
Sometimes people accuse Christians of using God as a crutch and perhaps there is some truth to that, but what a good crutch to have. Who can we compare to Him? Where would we be without Him? Where would we be without His sustaining grace this past year? And then looking forward, to whom would we look for help as we enter into a New Year? Moses reminds us that the one who trusts in God has a secure “dwelling place” (refuge) in Him for our God is from eternity to eternity and His faithfulness stretches from one generation to the next.
In direct contrast to God’s eternity, we know that earth has no permanence about it at all. We may like to think we can put down deep roots and last forever, but the Psalmist (and reality) reminds us that we are like grass or a flower in the field. We blossom and bloom for a short while in the dew of the morning and then the sun dries us and we’re gone and no one remembers us.
Moses (v4) and the Apostle Peter (2 Pet 4:8), reminds us that with the Lord a thousand years is like a day and a day like a thousand years. Moses’ point is not that time passes quickly for God, but that it passes quickly for us. In my ministry, I have the opportunity to visit many elderly people, occasionally on their birthdays. Some are pleased they have been granted many years and are remembered by the cards and well wishes they receive, but in the end, unless the Lord returns, they too will be swallowed up by death and their place remembered no more.
Thankfully, the Psalmist doesn’t end on that note but gives us some instructions going forward. First, the Psalmist calls upon us to count every day and every moment as a gift from God. So instead of being poor mathematicians, let us count and live each day, knowing that it may possibly be our last day. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan for the future or work hard, we must and it is our duty to do so. However, let us do it to God’s glory and call on the Lord to help us live holy lives. May we not be like the rich man who kept building bigger and better barns so that he could live a life of luxury. This rich man did not give God or His glory a thought and Jesus tells us that such a man is a fool! (Luke 12:13-20). “Only one life! ’Twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Second, it is only when we acknowledge each day as a gift from the Lord that we can sing and be glad all our days. When God fills our hearts with His love, not least for our salvation, we will be most satisfied. So don’t place your trust in man or in ‘things’ or to building bigger and better barns without having a godly focus. Saint Augustine prayed, “You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they find rest in you.”
Third, the Psalmist asks God to establish the work of his hands. While we have breath, redeemed by Christ, we have work to do. Let us find out, guided by God’s word, what that work is and do it to His glory!
So in light of our great salvation and the few ‘short’ years we have, let us be a blessing to others in the New Year, so that when our years are done, we may hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Have a blessed New Year.