Multiplied Mercies (Psalm 90:12-17)
Number and Know (verse 12)
Moses’ request to God is that he would help us remember our fleeting frailty. Without divine grace, we are utterly foolish about the simplest of things, and we are forgetful of what is so obvious—that life is brief and we are in need of His mercy. Of course, Moses’ request here is not a matter of mathematics, as though he needed some sort of chart counting down from 70 or 80 years. Instead, his plea is an earnest desire to live holy before God every day, making his limited number of days count. In other words, he is asking that God would help us to work “as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). Waste no time in idleness or foolishness! “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23)
Return and Relent (verse 13)
Next, Moses asks God to return, to remove the distance between Him and His people by means of reconciliation. This returning would be evidenced on God’s part by being sorry (i.e. showing pity) rather than distance or dismay. Moses is appealing to God to glorify Himself by saving us rather than destroying us. When we think of God being “sorry” or relenting, it’s important to remember that God does not change His affection for His people, but He does alter His operations toward them.
Satisfaction and Song (verse 14)
The mercy and lovingkindness of God make us content and it is a delight to our souls. It keeps our hearts hopeful. Following the night of affliction, Moses longs for God to allow His people to feast on His mercy in the morning once again. The key to a life of joy and gladness is satisfaction in God.
Rejoice and Replace (verse 15)
The plagues were awful, and Moses recognized that God’s people needed his comforting presence. They were in need of God to replace the sadness of their lives with the gladness of heart that comes from Him. This exchange will not be one-for-one in this life for the Christian. However, even if all 80 years of our time on the earth are affliction and evil, still such affliction is no comparison with the eternity God has promised you. Our certainty is that for the believer, days of trial will be replaced with an eternity of joy.
Manifest and Majesty (verse 16)
Is there anything more encouraging than seeing the evidence of God’s plan unfolding? Moses asks for God to reveal that work to His people—that great work of expanding and enlarging the church, of saving and sanctifying His people, and of granting Christ the reward of His suffering. Moses’ request is not just for himself or his generation, but for his children as well. He wants the coming generations to know the majestic works of God.
Kindness and Confirmation (verse 17)
Moses now asks God to mark them distinctly as His people and to cause His favor to rest on them. In other words, he desires that the Lord label them with His love and uniquely display His unity among them. When Moses asks the Lord to “confirm the work of our hands,” he desires that God use his attempts as a means of promoting God’s glory. God has put us in this life to do something good for Him, and it is important that we do it well. It’s important to remember that our success in promoting Christ’s kingdom is dependent on Christ Himself. Our works will be confirmed if He grants us favor, and in that way, He will be glorified.
- These verses are really a cry for Someone more than they are for something. Yes, Moses desires blessings, but more than that he desires the blessed One (c.f. Ex 33.15). If we have Him, we will be content in all situations. Do you desire the blessed One? Do you desire to know and be near to God Himself?
- Moses prayed not only for himself but for the entire next generation of God’s people. Do you share a common concern for the prosperity of the church, more than just private or personal blessings? Do you pray for the wellbeing of the church, rather than just for your own needs?
- Each of these petitions flows from a deep sense of need. It is not wicked to sigh and groan in the midst of our circumstances, even for deliverance from them. In fact, you cannot pray like Moses until you feel like Moses felt. Do you feel your need for God’s mercy? Are you taking your needs to the One who hears and answers?
- If you are young, it is never too early to seek and obtain mercy from God. If you are advanced in life, be in earnest now and delay not another hour. Cry out to God, “O, satisfy me early with your mercy!” If you are busy, there is no occupation whatsoever that can justify a neglect of eternal interests. We are to be diligent in business, yes, but in comparison, our zeal in the service of God should swallow up that which we exercise in reference to the world.