Psalm | 7 | 8 | 16 | 22 | 23 | 29 | 34 | 63 | 73 | 90 | 91 | 107 | 110 | 119 | 138 | 139 |


This Bible study on Psalm 90 contains Bible study discussion questions, commentary, cross-references and applications.  Visit our inductive Bible studies for more studies on this and other books of the Bible. 

Psalm 90 Bible Study – Developing The Right Perspective

Outline

I. God is eternal (1-8)
II. Man’s time is short (9-11)
III. Making the most of our time (12-17)

I. God is eternal (1-8)

Discussion Questions

• Who wrote this Psalm?
• Summarize the main point of this Psalm in one or two sentences.
• What qualities of God does Moses describe?
• How does reminding ourselves of this help us keep the right perspective?
• What is man made of? What does it mean that He will return man to dust?
• How does knowing you are dust affect your perspective?
• How does God view time (4)?
• Who is the “them” in verse 5?
• What are people like (verses 5-6)?
• What do you learn about judgment (7-8)?
• How does knowing there is a future judgment affect how you live your life now?
• What would you say to a person who thinks that they can hide their sins?

Cross-References

2 Peter 3:8 – But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Isaiah 40:28 – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

1 Timothy 1:17 – To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 22:13 – I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Moses is the writer – Knowing that Moses wrote this Psalm helps us to understand some aspects of it better. Specifically, Moses talks about God’s wrath as well as the toils and afflictions that they faced. Likely, the forty years judgment of wilderness wandering was the background for these ideas.

2. You have been our dwelling place for generations – It is an interesting observation. Most people would mention a geographical location, perhaps a city or country, as their dwelling place. Moses says that God Himself is their dwelling place.

For hundreds of years, the Jews were slaves in Egypt and didn’t have a place to call their own. After that, another generation was spent in the wilderness, wandering from place to place.

One might have called them homeless. But home is where the heart is. And Moses realized that God was with them. He dwelt with them. His very presence was shown to be with them in the pillar of cloud and fire.

Exodus 33:15 – And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.

Moses did not want to go anywhere without the Lord’s presence.

Moses’ words remind us of what Jesus said in John 15:4.

John 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

A husband might say to his family, “my home is wherever you are.” Those would be words of comfort to a family who didn’t have a long-term home to call their own. In a similar manner, Moses recognizes that their relationship with God was more significant than any physical house could ever be.

3. From everlasting to everlasting you are God – A key theme in this Psalm is that God is eternal. Mountains are steadfast, ancient, and immovable. They stand the test of time. Snow falls and melts. Trees grow and die. People come and go. The mountains are still standing there unchanged. And yet God existed for eternity past before the mountains. He existed before creation.

Reflect – How does the knowledge that God existed for eternity past impact you?

Perhaps the most important theme in this chapter is perspective. We need to gain the proper perspective. Knowing who God is, who we are, and our relationship with Him can remind us what our purpose is in life. Trivial things should be recognized for what they are. And proper priority should be given to important things.

Having the proper perspective can help us respond to various situations in a calm, patient, and humble manner.

Here are a few examples where having perspective can help.

• Your toddler often wakes up at night crying. She is messy. Almost every meal is interrupted by spilled milk. It is hard to get proper rest or feel you have time for yourself. You need perspective. She will grow up and mature. This time will pass. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t even register as a blip.
• Your favorite sports team loses year after year. When I was a child, I lived in Texas. So I have grown up cheering for the Dallas Cowboys. In the early 90s, they won the Super Bowl three times. That was great. But they haven’t been back to the Super Bowl (or even back within one game of the Super Bowl) in 27 years. I need perspective. Football is just a game. Life and happiness should not be affected by somewhat else playing a game. Sports are trivial when you consider the everlasting God and the massive universe He created.
• You are sick with a chronic illness. Every day you are in pain. It seems like it will never end. Perspective can help. It will end. In comparison to eternity, the time is short even though it feels so long (Romans 8:18).

Application – Sometimes, we need to zoom out from our situation and look at the big picture. That is what Moses helps us do in Psalm 90. God is eternal and existed from eternity past. Our time on earth is short, but we too have an eternal soul that will exist into the future for all eternity. Remembering that can help us have perspective.

4. You return man to dust – Here is another reminder that helps us keep perspective. Next time you start to become prideful and self-centered, remind yourself, “I am a pile of dust.”

Adam was literally created from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). He was a pile of dirt. He had no ability to bring life to himself. He couldn’t sense anything. He couldn’t do anything. But then God breathed into him the breath of life. That breath from God gave him life. As God has given, so He can take away.

A pile of dust has no rights. A pile of dust that has been given life should never complain. How can a pile of dust rebel against the one who gave it life? How can a pile of dust become prideful and try to take glory from its Creator to itself? How can a pile of dust declare its independence from the one who sustains it?

One day our bodies will return to the dust. Moses says that God will say, “Return, O Children of man!” Our life is in His hands.

Application – Knowing these things should affect how we treat God.

• We should obey Him.
• We should recognize our dependence on Him.
• We should glorify Him.
• We should not complain about anything.
• We should be grateful for the life that He gives us.
• We should have perspective.

Next time you are tempted to complain, be prideful or go your own way, remind yourself that without God’s breath, you are but dust.

5. For a thousand years in your sight, are but as yesterday when it is past –

God exists outside of the dimension of time. Time markers for people were created in Genesis. In Genesis 1, it says, “there was evening, and there was morning the first day.” We will never be able to fully comprehend how time exists for God. Does He exist in all times at once? Does He fast forward and rewind time going in both directions rather than only forward? Is it fast? Is it slow?

We don’t know how God experiences time.

Even for people, time can be relative. Time seems to crawl so slowly if you are sick in bed at night and can’t go to sleep. One night can seem to last forever. On the other hand, fun or exciting days can seem to be over in an instant. As the saying goes, “time flies when you are having fun.”

Moses’ emphasis on God’s eternality helped him and his people gain perspective in the difficult times they faced. They were in Egypt, living as slaves for hundreds of years. After that, they wandered in the desert for forty more. During those years, they faced many afflictions and hardships. Knowing God was eternal could help them have faith that these things were temporary. God had a plan. He would fulfill His promises. He would bring them through this.

The Israelites complained a lot during those years. They lost sight of the truths that Moses writes about in Psalm 90. They were living in a moment. While they should have zoomed out to look at the big picture, they instead zoomed in and lived in the moment.

6. We are brought to an end by your anger – Moses looks forward in time to see the destination for his people. Indeed, the entire generation of Jewish adults who left Egypt was judged by God and died in the wilderness. God was angry with them because of their continuous rebellion.

During these years, the Israelites were often short-sighted. When Moses spent forty days on the mountain with God, they rebelled. Over and over, they complained. Often, they only focused on the short term. They were like the child who knows that he will be punished for eating the forbidden cookie but still chooses to do it anyway.

Moses saw (and recorded in Psalm 90) where this type of mentality would lead.

7. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

No one can hide their sins from God. Many people choose to live in the moment because they think that they will never be held accountable for what they do. They choose to disbelieve in God or think that He does not care about their day-to-day decisions.

For example, 36% of millennials in the US believe that “God is unconcerned with my day-to-day decisions.”

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/october/what-do-christians-believe-ligonier-state-theology-heresy.html

This lack of proper perspective will cause them to excuse and minimize sin. On the other hand, remembering there is a coming judgment will motivate us to live holy lives.

Application – Never forget that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Rather than zooming in on the short-term thrills of sin, zoom out and see the resulting consequences, both in this world and the next (Psalm 73:17).

II. Man’s time is short (9-11)

Discussion Questions

• Why does Moses emphasize God’s wrath?
• Why does Moses seem to take a pessimistic view of life and death?
• What does life ending like a “sigh” mean?
• How long do people tend to live? Is that long or short?
• Knowing that your time is “soon gone,” what should you do?
• Why do many people not consider God’s judgment and wrath (11)?
• How is helpful to think about His wrath?

Cross-References

Ephesians 5:15-16 – Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

James 4:13-15 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Psalms 31:15 – My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. All our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh – The Israelites experienced God’s wrath in the wilderness. The end of their lives came quickly (max forty years for the adults leaving Egypt). All of those who rebel against God will experience His judgment. Their lives will seem short and filled with affliction.

Only in Christ can we be redeemed. And even then, we live in a fallen world and feel its effects

2. The years of our life are seventy… [or] eighty – Life is short. Life spans in some modern countries have increased since then, but not by much. For many people, their sole focus in life is to live longer.

I was talking with an elderly gentleman recently and asked him what he was living for. His answer was that he was living today so that he could live tomorrow. Most of his time is spent on trying to increase his life span. Through healthy eating and proper exercise, he hopes to extend his life an extra decade or more.

He may or may not be succe