(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon)  "Excerpted text

Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.  Materials are reproduced

by permission."

 

                                                Psalm 90

 

 

TITLE. A Prayer of Moses the man of God. Many attempts have been

made to prove that Moses did not write this Psalm, but we remain

unmoved in the conviction that he did so. The condition of Israel in the

wilderness is so preeminently illustrative of each verse, and the turns,

expressions, and words are so similar to many in the Pentateuch, that the

difficulties suggested are, to our mind, light as air in comparison with the

internal evidence in favor of its Mosaic origin. Moses was mighty in word

as well as deed, and this Psalm we believe to be one of his weighty

utterances, worthy to stand side by side with his glorious oration recorded

in Deuteronomy. Moses was peculiarly a man of God and God's man;

chosen of God, inspired of God, honored of God, and faithful to God

in all his house (Hebrews 3:5), he well deserved the name which is here given

him. The Psalm is called a prayer, for the closing petitions enter into its essence,

and the preceding verses are a meditation preparatory to the supplication. Men

of God are sure to be men of prayer. This was not the only prayer of

Moses, indeed it is but a specimen of the manner in which the seer of

Horeb was wont to commune with heaven, and intercede for the good of

Israel. This is the oldest of the Psalms, and stands between two books of

Psalms as a composition unique in its grandeur, and alone in its sublime

antiquity. Many generations of mourners have listened to this Psalm when

standing around the open grave, and have been consoled thereby, even

when they have not perceived its special application to Israel in the

wilderness and have failed to remember the far higher ground upon which

believers now stand.

 

SUBJECT AND DIVISIONS. —Moses sings of the frailty of man, and

the shortness of life, contrasting therewith the eternity of God, and

founding thereon earnest appeals for compassion. The only division which

will be useful separates the contemplation vs. 1-11 from vs. 12-17.  There is

indeed no need to make even this break, for the unity is well preserved throughout.

 

 

1  “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.”  We

must consider the whole Psalm as written for the tribes in the desert, and

then we shall see the primary meaning of each verse. Moses, in effect,

says—wanderers though we be in the howling wilderness, yet we find a

home in thee, even as our forefathers did when they came out of Ur of the

Chaldees and dwelt in tents among the Canaanites. To the saints the Lord

Jehovah, the self existent God, stands instead of mansion and rooftree;

He shelters, comforts, protects, preserves, and cherishes all His own.

Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the saints dwell in their

God, and have always done so in all ages. Not in the tabernacle or the

temple do we dwell, but in God Himself; and this we have always done

since there was a church in the world. We have not shifted our abode.

Kings' palaces have vanished beneath the crumbling hand of time—they

have been burned with fire and buried beneath mountains of ruins, but the

imperial race of heaven has never lost its regal habitation. Go to the

Palatine and see how the Caesars are forgotten of the halls which echoed

to their despotic mandates, and resounded with the plaudits of the nations

over which they ruled, and then look upward and see in the ever living

Jehovah the divine home of the faithful, untouched by so much as the

finger of decay. Where dwelt our fathers a hundred generations since, there

dwell we still. It is of New Testament saints that the Holy Ghost has said,

"He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in God and God in Him!"

(John 14:23)  It was a divine mouth which said, "Abide in me", and then added,

"he that abideth in me and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit."

(Ibid. 15:5)  - It is most sweet to speak with the Lord as Moses did, saying,

"Lord, thou art our dwelling place", and it is wise to draw from the Lord's

eternal condescension reasons for expecting present and future mercies, as the

Psalmist did in the next Psalm wherein he describes the safety of those who

dwell in God.

 

2   “Before the mountains were brought forth,” -  Before those elder giants

had struggled forth from nature's womb, as her dread firstborn, the Lord

was glorious and self sufficient. Mountains to Him, though hoar with the

snows of ages, are but new born babes, young things whose birth was but

yesterday, mere novelties of an hour - “or ever thou hadst formed the earth

and the world,” -  Here too the allusion is to a birth. Earth was born but the

other day, and her solid land was delivered from the flood but a short while ago.

“even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” -  or, "thou art,

O God." GOD WAS BEFORE, BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE WAS.

(John 1:3; Colossians 1:17) -  He was God when the earth was not a

world but a chaos, when mountains were not upheaved, and the generation

of the heavens and the earth had not commenced. In this Eternal One there

is a safe abode for the successive generations of men. If God Himself were

of yesterday, He would not be a suitable refuge for mortal men; if He could

change and cease to be God He would be but an uncertain dwelling place

for His people. The eternal existence of God is here mentioned to set forth,

by contrast, the brevity of human life.

 

3   “Thou turnest man to destruction;” -  or "to dust." Man's body is

resolved into its elements, and is as though it had been crushed and ground

to powder - “and sayest, Return, ye children of men.” -  i.e., return even

to the dust out of which ye were taken. The frailty of man is thus forcibly set forth;

God creates him out of the dust, and back to dust he goes at the word of His

Creator. God resolves and man dissolves. A word created and a word

destroys. Observe how the action of God is recognized; man is not said to

die because of the decree of faith, or the action of inevitable law, but the

Lord is made the agent of all, His hand turns and His voice speaks; without

these we should not die, no power on earth or hell could kill us.

 

                        "An angel's arm cannot save me from the grave,

                        Myriads of angels cannot confine me there."

 

4   “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past,”

A thousand years! This is a long stretch of time. How much may be crowded into it,

—the rise and fall of empires, the glory and obliteration of dynasties, the beginning

and the end of elaborate systems of human philosophy, and countless events, all

important to household and individual, which elude the pens of historians. Yet this

period, which might even be called the limit of modern history, and is in human

language almost identical with an indefinite length of time, is to the Lord as nothing,

even as time already gone. A moment yet to come is longer than "yesterday when it

is past", for that no longer exists at all, yet such is a chiliad to the eternal. In

 comparison with eternity, the most lengthened reaches of time are mere points,

 there is in fact, no possible comparison between them. (Dear Reader, I am

sixty-seven years old and if I reach the seventy mentioned in v.10, it is rapidly

approaching.  What is seventy years compared to eternity?  We depend upon

God for the life that now is and that which is to come!  Job speaks for me.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”  [Job 13:15] – Peter speaks

for me, “Lord to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of life.” [John 6:68]

Mathematically, try to reduce 70 years over eternity   -     70    -  it is not in the

                                                                                     eternity

same league.  It should make one think and to appreciate more the words of Jesus

“What shall if profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

[Mark 8:36] – I recommend  - How to Be Saved - # 5 – this web site – CY  - 2011)

- “and as a watch in the night.” -  a time which is no sooner come than gone.

There is scarce time enough in a thousand years for the angels to change

watches; when their millennium of service is almost over it seems as

though the watch were newly set. We are dreaming through the long night

of time, but God is ever keeping watch, and a thousand years are as

nothing to Him. A host of days and nights must be combined to make up a

thousand years to us, but to God, that space of time does not make up a

whole night, but only a brief portion of it. If a thousand years be to God as

a single night watch, what must be the life time of the Eternal!

 

5   “Thou carriest them away as with a flood;” -  As when a torrent rushes

down the river bed and bears all before it, so does the Lord bear away by

death the succeeding generations of men. As the hurricane sweeps the

clouds from the sky, so time removes the children of men - “they are as a

sleep:” -  Before God men must appear as unreal as the dreams of the night,

the phantoms of sleep. Not only are our plans and devices like a sleep, but

we ourselves are such. "We are such stuff as dreams are made of." - “in the

morning they are like grass which groweth up.”  As grass is green in

the morning and hay at night, so men are changed from health to corruption in

a few hours. (Dear Reader, I remember one time when I was a teenager

sitting on the ground between the house and the barn in Somerset, Kentucky

and read these words from Psalm 102:15-16, “As for man, his days are as

grass:  as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.  For the wind passeth

over it, and the place thereof shall know it no more.” I remember looking

out at the hay field that was cut and it made an impression on me – now a half

century later, I know by experience, the truth of this passage when then I foresaw

its truth by faith.  Also, I remember the B-52’s of the Strategic Air Command

which would fly over the area in mock bombing runs, since from northern Alabama

up through eastern Kentucky was similar to the terrain of inhabited Russia,

during the cold war.  They would sometimes leave vapor trails.  I was at that

time familiar with the passage in James 4:14 – “for what is your life?  It is

even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

I could see this truth playing out in the lives of my fellowmen.  I accepted it by

faith and could reason its truth even in the late 1950’s.  Today, April 2, 2011,

I went to get the mail.  There was a domestic airline vapor trail in the sky.

It didn’t last long, neither has my life from 1943 to 2011.  It too has been as

this vapor that appeared and now is slowy disintergrating.  I too, have spent my

days “as a tale that is told.”  That is why I needed  Jesus then and why I need

Him  now!  Life is short!  THE TIME IS SHORT!  {the theme of this web

site} =- I thank God that He has directed my steps in life because it is not in man,

neither in me, to “direct his steps.” [Jeremiah 10:23] - I would like to encourage

you, dear reader, to look to Jesus  today and be saved.  Once again, I refer you

to entry # 5 on this web site – How to Be Saved – Look to Jesus today and be

sweetly saved! – CY – 2011) We are not cedars, or oaks, but only poor grass,

which is vigorous in the spring,  but lasts not a summer through. What is there

 upon earth more frail than we!

 

6   “In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up;” -  Blooming with

abounding beauty till the meadows are all besprent with gems, the grass

has a golden hour, even as man in his youth has a heyday of flowery glory.

“in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.”  The scythe ends the

blossoming of the field flowers, and the dews at night weep their fall. Here

is the history of the grass—sown, grown, blown, mown, gone; and the

history of man is not much more. Natural decay would put an end both to

us and the grass in due time; few, however, are left to experience the full

result of age, for death comes with his scythe, and removes our life in the

midst of its verdure. How great a change in how short a time! The morning

saw the blooming, and the evening sees the withering.

 

                        Stout and strong today,

                        Tomorrow turned to clay.

                        This day in his bloom,

                        The next, in the tomb.

 

7   This mortality is not accidental, neither was it inevitable in the original of our

nature, but sin has provoked the Lord to anger, and therefore thus we die.

“For we are consumed by thine anger,” -  This is the scythe which mows and

the scorching heat which withers. This was specially the case in reference

to the people in the wilderness, whose lives were cut short by justice on

account of their waywardness; they failed, not by a natural decline, but

through the blast of the well deserved judgments of God. It must have been

a very mournful sight to Moses to see the whole nation melt away during

the forty years of their pilgrimage, till none remained of all that came out of

Egypt. As God's favor is life, so His anger is death; as well might grass

grow in an oven as men flourish when the Lord is wroth with them - "and

by thy wrath are we troubled.” -  or terror stricken. A sense of divine anger

confounded them, so that they lived as men who knew that they were

doomed. This is true of us in a measure, but not altogether, for now that

immortality and life are brought to light by the gospel (II Timothy 1:12),

death has changed its aspect, and, to believers in Jesus, it is no more a

judicial  execution.  Anger and wrath are the sting of death, and in these believers

have no share; love and mercy now conduct us to glory by the way of the tomb. It

is not seemly to read these words at a Christian's funeral without words of

explanation, and a distinct endeavor to shew how little they belong to

believers in Jesus, and how far we are privileged beyond those with whom

He was not well pleased, "whose carcasses fell in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:17).

To apply an ode, written by the leader of the legal dispensation under circumstances

of peculiar judgment, in reference to a people under penal censure, to those who fall

asleep in Jesus, seems to be the height of blundering. We may learn much from it, but

we ought not to misapply it by taking to ourselves, as the beloved of the Lord, that

which was chiefly true of those to whom God had sworn in His wrath that they should

not enter into his rest. When, however, a soul is under conviction of sin, the language

of this Psalm is highly appropriate to his case, and will naturally suggest itself to the

distracted mind. No fire consumes like God's anger, and no anguish so

troubles the heart as His wrath. Blessed be that dear substitute,

 

                        "Who bore that we might never bear

                        His Father's righteous ire."

 

8   “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee,” -  Hence these tears! Sin

seen by God must work death; it is only by the covering blood of

atonement that life comes to any of us. When God was overthrowing the

tribes in the wilderness He had their iniquities before Him, and therefore

dealt with them in severity. He could not have their iniquities before Him

and not smite them - “our secret sins in the fight of thy countenance.”

There are no secrets before God; He unearths man's hidden things, and exposes

them to the light. There can be no more powerful luminary than the face of God,

(no man can see His face and live – Exodus 33:20) yet, in that strong

light, the Lord set the hidden sins of Israel. Sunlight can never be

compared with the light of Him who made the sun, of whom it is written,

"God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." (I John 1:5) - If by His

countenance is here meant His love and favor, it is not possible for the

heinousness of sin to be more clearly manifested than when it is seen to involve

ingratitude to one so infinitely good and kind. Rebellion in the light of

justice is black, but in the light of love it is devilish. How can we grieve so

good a God? The children of Israel had been brought out of Egypt with a high

hand, fed in the wilderness with a liberal hand, and guided with a tender hand,

and their sins were peculiarly atrocious. We, too, having been redeemed by the

blood of Jesus, and saved by abounding grace, will be verily guilty if we

forsake the Lord.   (Wake up, America – CY – 2011)  What manner of

persons ought we to be? How ought we to pray for cleansing from secret faults?

It is to us a wellspring of delights to remember that our sins, as believers are now

cast behind the Lord's back, and shall never be brought to light again: therefore we

live, because, the guilt being removed, the death penalty is removed also.

(Thanks be unto the God and the Lord Jesus Christ for ever! – CY)

 

9   “For all our days are passed away in thy wrath:” -  Justice shortened

the days of rebellious Israel; each halting place became a graveyard; they

marked their march by the tombs they left behind them. Because of the

penal sentence their days were dried up, and their lives wasted away.

“we spend our years as a tale that is told.”  Yea, not their days only, but

their years flew by them like a thought, swift as a meditation, rapid and idle

as a gossip's story. Sin had cast a shadow over all things, and made the

lives of the dying wanderers to be both vain and brief. The first sentence is

not intended for believers to quote, as though it applied to themselves, for

our days are all passed amid the loving-kindness of the Lord, even as David

says in the ch. 23:6 "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the

days of my life." Neither is the life of the gracious man unsubstantial as a

story teller's tale; he lives in Jesus, he has the divine Spirit within him, and

to him "life is real, life is earnest" —the simile only holds good if we

consider that a holy life is rich in interest, full of wonders, checkered with

many changes, yet as easily ordered by providence as the improvisatore

arranges the details of the story with which he beguiles the hour. Our lives

are illustrations of heavenly goodness, parables of divine wisdom, poems of

sacred thought, and records of infinite love; happy are we whose lives are

such tales.

 

10   “The days of our years are threescore years and ten;” -  Moses

himself lived longer than this, but his was the exception not the rule: in his

day life had come to be very much the same in duration as it is with us.

This is brevity itself compared with the men of the elder time; it is nothing

when contrasted with eternity. Yet is life long enough for virtue and piety,

and all too long for vice and blasphemy. Moses here in the original writes

in a disconnected manner, as if he would set forth the utter insignificance

of man's hurried existence. His words may be rendered, "The days of our

years! In them seventy years": as much as to say, "The days of our years?

What about them? Are they worth mentioning? The account is utterly

insignificant, their full tale is but seventy." - “and if by reason of strength

they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow;” - The

unusual strength which overleaps the bound of threescore and ten only lands the

aged man in a region where life is a weariness and a woe. (See Ecclesiastes 12:

1-8)  The strength of old age, its very prime and pride, are but labor and sorrow;

what must its weakness be? What panting for breath! What toiling to move! What

a failing of the senses! What a crushing sense of weakness! The evil days are come

and the years wherein a man cries, "I have no pleasure in them." The grasshopper

has become a burden and desire faileth. Such is old age. Yet mellowed by hallowed

experience, and solaced by immortal hopes, the latter days of aged Christians

are not so much to be pitied as envied.  (Balaam said, “Let me die the death

of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” – Numbers 23:10 – CY – 2011)

The sun is setting and the heat of the day is over, but sweet is the calm and cool of the

eventide: and the fair day melts away, not into a dark and dreary night, but into a

glorious, unclouded, eternal day. The mortal fades to make room for the

immortal; the old man falls asleep to wake up in the region of perennial

youth - “for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”  The cable is broken and the

vessel sails upon the sea of eternity; the chain is snapped and the eagle mounts to

its native air above the clouds. Moses mourned for men as he thus sung:

and well he might, as all his comrades fell at his side. His words are more

nearly rendered, "He drives us fast and we fly away;" as the quails were

blown along by the strong west wind, so are men hurried before the tempests of

death. To us, however, as believers, the winds are favorable; they bear us as the gales

bear the swallows away from the wintry realms, to lands

 

                        "Where everlasting spring abides

                        And never withering flowers."

 

Who wishes it to be otherwise? Wherefore should we linger here? What

has this poor world to offer us that we should tarry on its shores? Away,

away! This is not our rest. Heavenward, Ho! Let the Lord's winds drive

fast if so he ordains, for they waft us the more swiftly to Himself, and our

own dear country.

 

(Dear Reader, I recommend Thomas Cole’s Paintings on The Voyage of Life

on  the internet; put in your browser Thomas Cole – The Voyage of Life –

a picture is worth a thousand words – critique the prints carefully – there

is meaning in the appreciation of this art – Many of us had to take Art

Appreciation in school – there are four paintings, Childhood, Youth,

Manhood and Old Age - CY – 2011)

 

11   “Who knoweth the power of thine anger?”  Moses saw men dying all

around him: he lived among funerals, and was overwhelmed at the terrible

results of the divine displeasure. He felt that none could measure the might

of the Lord's wrath - “even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.” Good

 men dread that wrath beyond conception, but they never ascribe too much

terror to it: bad men are dreadfully convulsed when they awake to a sense of it,

but their horror is not greater than it had need be, for it is a fearful thing to fall

into the hands of an angry God. (Hebrews 12:29) - Holy Scripture when it

depicts God's wrath against sin never uses an hyperbole; it would be impossible to

exaggerate it.  (I recommend The Wrath of God by Arthur Pink - # 4 – this web

site – CY – 2011)  Whatever feelings of pious awe and holy trembling may move

the tender heart, it is never too much moved; apart from other considerations the

great truth of the divine anger, when most powerfully felt, never impresses

the mind with a solemnity in excess of the legitimate result of such a contemplation.

What the power of God's anger is in hell, and what it would be on earth, were it

not in mercy restrained, no man living can rightly conceive. Modern thinkers rail

at Milton and Dante, Bunyan and Baxter, for their terrible imagery; but the truth

is that no vision of poet, or denunciation of holy seer, can ever reach to the

 dread height of this great argument, much less go beyond it. The wrath to

come has its horrors rather diminished than enhanced in description by the

dark lines of human fancy; it baffles words, it leaves imagination far behind.

Beware ye that forget God lest He tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver.

(ch. 50:22- notice the verse which it follows and the concepts of man in v. 21 of

that chapter – CY – 2011) - God is terrible out of His holy places. Remember

Sodom and Gomorrah! Remember Korah and his company! Mark well the graves

of lust in the wilderness!  Nay, rather bethink ye of the place where “their worm

dieth not, and their fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:48) -  Who is able to stand

against this justly angry God?  Who will dare to rush upon the bosses of His buckler,

or tempt the edge of His sword? Be it ours to submit ourselves as dying sinners to

this eternal God, who can, even at this moment, command us to the dust, and thence

to hell.  (“Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell;”

Luke 12:5)

 

12   “So teach us to number our days,” -  Instruct us to set store by time,

mourning for that time past wherein we have wrought the will of the flesh,

using diligently the time present, which is the accepted hour and the day of

salvation, and reckoning the time which lieth in the future to be too

uncertain to allow us safely to delay any gracious work or prayer.

Numeration is a child's exercise in arithmetic, but in order to number their

days aright the best of men need the Lord's teaching. We are more anxious

to count the stars than our days, and yet the latter is by far more practical.

“that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”  Men are led by reflections

upon the brevity of time to give their earnest attention to eternal things;

they become humble as they look into the grave which is so soon to be

their bed, their passions cool in the presence of mortality, and they yield

themselves up to the dictates of unerring wisdom; but this is only the case

when the Lord Himself is the teacher; He alone can teach to real and lasting

profit. Thus Moses prayed that the dispensations of justice might be

sanctified in mercy. "The law is our school master to bring us to Christ",

(Galatians 3:24) - when the Lord Himself speaks by the law. It is most meet

that the heart which will so soon cease to beat should while it moves be regulated

by wisdom's hand. (I once read this statement by Mr. Spurgeon:  “our pulse,

like a muffled drum, beats our march to death.” – CY – 2011)  A short life should

be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in

misspending a single quarter of an hour.  Neither are we sure of enough life

to justify us in procrastinating for a moment. If we were wise in heart we should

see this, but mere head wisdom will not guide us aright.

 

13   “Return, O LORD, how long?”  Come in mercy, to us again. Do not

leave us to perish. Suffer not our lives to be both brief and bitter. Thou

hast said to us, "Return, ye children of men" (v. 3), and now we humbly cry to

thee, "Return, thou preserver of men." Thy presence alone can reconcile us

to this transient existence; turn thou unto us. As sin drives God from us,

(Isaiah 59:2), so repentance cries to the Lord to return to us. When men are under

chastisement they are allowed to expostulate, and ask "how long?" Our

faith in these times is not too great boldness with God, but too much backwardness

in pleading with Him - “and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.”  Thus

Moses acknowledges the Israelites to be God's servants still. They had rebelled,

but they had not utterly forsaken the Lord; they owned their obligations to obey His

will, and pleaded them as a reason for pity. Will not a man spare his own

servants? Though God smote Israel, yet they were His people, and He had

never disowned them, therefore is He entreated to deal favorably with

them. If they might not see the promised land, yet He is begged to cheer

them on the road with His mercy, and to turn His frown into a smile. The

prayer is like others which came from the meek lawgiver when he boldly

pleaded with God for the nation; it is Moses like. He here speaks with the

Lord as a man speaketh with his friend.  (Exodus 33:11).

 

14   “O satisfy us early with thy mercy:” Since they must die, and die so

soon, the psalmist pleads for speedy mercy upon himself and his brethren.

Good men know how to turn the darkest trials into arguments at the throne

of grace. He who has but the heart to pray need never be without pleas in

prayer. The only satisfying food for the Lord's people is the favor of God;

this Moses earnestly seeks for, and as the manna fell in the morning he

beseeches the Lord to send at once His satisfying favor, that all through

the little day of life they might be filled therewith. Are we so soon to die?

Then, Lord, do not starve us while we live. Satisfy us at once, we pray

thee. Our day is short and the night hastens on, O give us in the early

morning of our days to be satisfied with thy favor, that all through our

little day we may be happy.  (I rather take this to be early in life; if not

then it is still good that we “Remember now thy Creator in the days of

our youth” – [Ecclesiastes 12:1] – CY – 2011) - “that we may rejoice and

be glad all our days.”  Being filled with divine love, their brief life on earth would

become a joyful festival, and would continue so as long as it lasted. When the Lord

refreshes us with His presence, our joy is such that no man can take it from us.

Apprehensions of speedy death are not able to distress those who enjoy the present

favor of God; though they know that the night cometh they see nothing to fear in it,

but continue to live while they live, triumphing in the present favor of God and leaving

the future in His loving hands. Since the whole generation which came out of Egypt

had been doomed to die in the wilderness, they would naturally feel despondent, and

therefore their great leader seeks for them that blessing which, beyond all others,

consoles the heart, namely, the presence and favor of the Lord.

 

15   “Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted

us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.” None can gladden the heart as

thou canst, O Lord, therefore as thou hast made us sad be pleased to make

us glad. Fill the other scale. Proportion thy dispensations. Give us the lamb,

since thou has sent us the bitter herbs. Make our days as long as our nights.

The prayer is original, childlike, and full of meaning; it is moreover based

upon a great principle in providential goodness, by which the Lord puts the

good over against the evil in due measure. Great trial enables us to bear

great joy, and may be regarded as the herald of extraordinary grace.

God's dealings are according to scale; small lives are small throughout; and great

histories are great both in sorrow and happiness. Where there are high hills

there are also deep valleys. As God provides the sea for leviathan, so does

he find a pool for the minnow; in the sea all things are in fit proportion for

the mighty monster, while in the little brook all things befit the tiny fish. If

we have fierce afflictions we may look for overflowing delights, and our

faith may boldly ask for them. God who is great in justice when He chastens

will not be little in mercy when He blesses, He will be great all through: let

us appeal to Him with unstaggering faith.

 

16   “Let thy work appear unto thy servants,” -  See how he dwells upon

that word servants. It is as far as the law can go, and Moses goes to the full

length permitted him henceforth Jesus calls us not servants but friends (John 15:15),

and if we are wise we shall make full use of our wider liberty. Moses asks for

displays of divine power and providence conspicuously wrought, that all

the people might be cheered thereby. They could find no solace in their

own faulty works, but in the work of God they would find comfort -

“and thy glory unto their children. While their sons were growing up

around them, they desired to see some out-shinings of the promised glory

gleaming upon them. Their Sons were to inherit the land which had been

given them by covenant, and therefore they sought on their behalf some

tokens of the coming good, some morning dawnings of the approaching

noonday. How eagerly do good men plead for their children. They can bear

very much personal affliction if they may but be sure that their children will

know the glory of God, and thereby be led to serve him. We are content

with the work if our children may but see the glory which will result from

it: we sow joyfully if they may reap.

 

17  “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us:” -  Even upon us

who must not see thy glory in the land of Canaan; it shall suffice us if in

our characters the holiness of God is reflected, and if over all our camp the

lovely excellences of our God shall cast a sacred beauty. Sanctification

should be the daily object of our petitions - “and establish thou the work of our

hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”  Let what we

do be done in truth, and last when we are in the grave; may the work of the present

generation minister permanently to the building up of the nation. Good men are

anxious not to work in vain. They know that without the Lord they can do

 nothing, and therefore they cry to Him for help in the work, for acceptance of

their efforts, and for the establishment of their designs. The church as a whole

earnestly desires that the hand of the Lord may so work with the hand of

His people, that a substantial, yea, an eternal edifice to the praise and glory

of God may be the result. We come and go, but the Lord's work abides.

We are content to die so long as Jesus lives and His kingdom grows. “He

must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).   Since the Lord abides for

ever the same, we trust our work in His hands, and feel that since it is far more

His work than ours He will secure it immortality.  When we have withered like

grass our holy service, like gold, silver, and precious stones, will survive the fire.

 

 

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