Prepare to Listen. Light your candle of hope and pray and wait in hope-filled stillness for a moment before reading today’s lament psalm.
Prayerfully Read Psalm 90:1-6, 12-17
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling-place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn us back to dust, and say, ‘Turn back, you mortals.’
4 For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning;
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
12 So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.
13 Turn, O LORD! How long? Have compassion on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands--
O prosper the work of our hands!
‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God…. You turn us back to dust.’
The prayer begins with a larger-than-life picture of God, in whom we ‘live and move and have our being’ (as Paul asserted, Acts 17:28). God was before creation; God is the one who created all things; God is from eternity to eternity. Take a deep breath, pause, see yourself dwelling in this Great God. Now read and take in how small humans really are compared to God. In other words, pray-ers are urged to get themselves and circumstances in perspective. We’re not in charge of this pandemic, neither are the politicians now calling the shots. Yes, we’re stuck in the midst of it, but have no control over it. God alone does. As weeks extend into months, days get longer, we despair of this ever ending. To God, who is from eternity to eternity, who created all things, this crisis is a mere blip on the screen. And, when it’s past, we too will be amazed at how short it was in comparison with the rest of life. Short, yet devastating. For all of us.
Whatever the psalmist had experienced was also devastating, hence the beautiful prayer at the end of the psalm. It begins in typical lament fashion, ‘Turn, O LORD! How long?’ We’re used to that cry by now as we’ve made our way through the laments. It also falls back on the familiar—God’s steadfast love and favor. As we saw in Psalm 86, when life is out of control, the pray-er returns to familiar rituals and beliefs and incorporates them in her prayer. The requests that are made in this lament are ones that we too want for ourselves, our communities, our nation. We too pray that the Lord will make us glad for as many days as he have afflicted us. And we too can echo the final request. ‘Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!’
What connected with you as you read this psalm? What’s your prayer today?
Respond to Jesus
Turn, O LORD! How long? Have compassion on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Prosper for us the work of our hands. In your mercy hear our prayer, Amen.