Psalm 90: 1-8 [9-11] 12 (NRSV)
Verse 1Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Verse 2Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Verse 3You turn us back to dust, and say, "Turn back, you mortals."
Verse 4For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.
Verse 5You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning;
Verse 6in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
Verse 7For we are consumed by your anger; by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
Verse 8You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance.[
Verse 9For all our days pass away under your wrath; our years come to an end like a sigh.
Verse 10The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Verse 11Who considers the power of your anger? Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.]
Verse 12So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.
Yesterday’s words from the prophet Zephaniah may rightly have fostered some sobering or uncomfortable reflection about our lives when assessed from the perspective of end times and the Second Coming of the Lord. If so, it seems that the psalmist offers some helpful perspective for that reflection. In fact we might be helped, after a first reading, to read the psalm again in reverse. That would invite our attention to the psalmist’s concluding summary plea regarding the possession of a wise heart: “So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” Then when we returned to the psalm’s beginning we would see how the psalmist offers some deep wisdom about life lived from the perspective of a God who cares: “Lord you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” From creation until the end of time, for good or ill, we are held in the arms of a gracious God long before and after our meager span of life—even “from everlasting to everlasting.”
O everlasting God, when present days cause us to ponder the end of life, help us to see our days not in fear but in confidence and hope that our lives are held by One who has promised to be our dwelling place forever. Amen.