From Dust to Glory: A New Year's Reflection with Psalm 90

Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:12
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Heavenly Father,
As we gather in Your presence today, we come with hearts open to the wisdom and truth of Your Word. We stand on the verge of a new year, a canvas yet to be painted with the moments and days You have appointed for us.
We acknowledge, Lord, the brevity of our lives, a truth poignantly expressed in Psalm 90. Teach us to number our days, that in the midst of the transient nature of life, we may find a heart of wisdom. May the reality of the fleeting moments spur us to live with intention and purpose.
Lord, we pray for each person gathered here. Open our hearts to receive Your Word with humility and readiness. May the insights from Psalm 90 resonate deeply within us, shaping our perspective on life and the pursuit of Your glory.
As we delve into the Scriptures, may the message not merely be words spoken but a transformative encounter with Your truth. Grant us the grace to apply these timeless principles in our lives—today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.
We commit this time to You, trusting that Your Word will not return void. May Your presence be palpable, and Your truth resonate within us long after this gathering.
In the precious name of Jesus, we pray.
Good afternoon! As we stand at the cusp of a new year, our hearts are drawn to the timeless words penned by Moses in Psalm 90. Today, in our shared pursuit of wisdom and reflection, we'll embark on a journey through this psalm, exploring the profound intersection of our transient existence and the enduring glory of our Almighty God.
There's something sacred about our coming together, a reminder that our individual stories weave into the greater tapestry of God's redemptive narrative.
Now, let me share with you the guiding theme for our sermon today—our sermon is titled "From Dust to Glory: A New Year's Reflection." In these four words, we encapsulate the essence of Psalm 90 and the poignant journey we're about to embark on.
Psalm 90 is not just a collection of verses; it's an invitation to ponder the brevity of our lives, symbolized by the dust from which we were formed, and to contrast that with the enduring, majestic glory of our Creator.
As we step into the poetry of Psalm 90, we're confronted with a dual theme that resonates through the ages—human frailty, represented by the imagery of dust, and God's eternal glory that outshines the limitations of our temporal existence.
Let the truths embedded in these verses shape our perspectives as we navigate the coming year. Open your hearts to the ancient wisdom of Psalm 90, and may this exploration be a source of inspiration and revelation for each one of us.

God’s Eternality

As we step into the heart of Psalm 90, the poetic verses of Moses beckon us to a contemplative journey—a journey that begins with the recognition of the eternal nature of our God. This section serves as the doorway to a profound exploration, inviting us to meditate on the One who is not bound by time but stands as our constant refuge and dwelling place.
In verse 1, Moses declares with timeless assurance,
Psalm 90:1 ESV
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
The use of "dwelling place" here extends beyond mere shelter; it signifies an abode—a home that transcends the passage of generations. Consider the weight of these words: God, in His eternal constancy, has been a refuge for all who seek Him across the vast tapestry of time.
Moving to verse 2, we are transported to a cosmic perspective. Moses, with prophetic insight, acknowledges the eternal existence of God before the visible cosmos took shape:
Psalm 90:2 ESV
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
The imagery of mountains and the earth symbolizes the foundations of our tangible reality. Yet, before these foundations were laid, God existed—unchanging, eternal, and from everlasting to everlasting.
Pause with me for a moment and let the concept of God as our dwelling place sink in. It's not a transient shelter, subject to the wear and tear of time; rather, it's an enduring abode that spans across the generations. The psalmist paints a picture of a spiritual home—a place of refuge, familiarity, and unwavering security. It's an intimate relationship with our Creator, where God becomes not just a distant deity but a personal refuge in the journey of life.
Now, let's delve into the profound contrast embedded in these verses—the paradox of our temporal nature, often likened to dust, standing in the presence of God's everlasting glory. Dust, in this context, encapsulates the brevity and fragility of our earthly existence. Yet, against this backdrop of transience stands the eternal, unchanging nature of God. It's a divine paradox—the finite finding refuge in the infinite, the temporal seeking solace in the eternal.
Consider the imagery: the Creator of the cosmos, the One who predates the formation of mountains and the earth, becomes our refuge. Our transient lives, like fleeting shadows, find purpose and permanence in the eternal embrace of our Heavenly Father. As we reflect on these verses, may the contrast between dust and glory stir in us a profound sense of awe and gratitude.

The Brevity of Human Life

As we navigate the verses of Psalm 90, our journey leads us to a pivotal juncture, where the poetic strokes of Moses vividly paint the transient nature of human life. In verses three through six, the psalmist extends an invitation to reflect deeply on the fragility and brevity of our existence.
Verse 3 unfurls a poignant reality:
Psalm 90:3 ESV
You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”
This declaration echoes the eternal cycle of life and death—a rhythm symbolized by the return to dust. A profound connection emerges here with the Genesis narrative, where humanity was molded from the very dust of the ground. These words accentuate the divine authority over the intricate dance between creation, the journey of existence, and the inevitable return to dust.
Expanding our gaze to verses 4-6, we find ourselves immersed in a cosmic panorama of time:
In verse four we read:
Psalm 90:4 ESV
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
This celestial perspective challenges our limited human understanding of time, portraying a thousand years as a mere fleeting moment—a watch in the night. This metaphor unfolds as a vast canvas, painting the transient nature of our earthly journey against the backdrop of eternity.
The act of God returning man to dust is not a cold decree but an acknowledgment of the very temporal nature woven into the very fabric of our existence. It's a reminder of our humble origin, grounding us in the truth that our physical forms are shaped from the same substance as the earth beneath our feet.
The cyclical return to dust becomes a profound symbol of the temporal nature of life, urging us to recognize the interconnectedness between our humanity and the tangible elements of the world.
As the imagery unfolds, we find ourselves standing on the watchtower of the night. Picture the serene stillness, the quiet anticipation, and the vigilant gaze of those entrusted with the night watch. It's a temporal period marked by attentive moments, each one contributing to the measured rhythm of the passing hours. Our lives, likened to this watch in the night, unfold with a similar brevity. This metaphor invites us not just to observe time but to engage with it purposefully, recognizing the profound significance of each fleeting moment within the vast expanse of time.
In verse five we read:
Psalm 90:5 ESV
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning:
Here, the imagery of a sweeping flood draws us into the brevity of life. The forcefulness of a flood mirrors the suddenness and inevitability with which life can be swept away. Picture the rush of water, overwhelming and cleansing—a powerful metaphor for the divine perspective on the brevity of our existence. Life, in this depiction, is likened to a dream—fleeting, intangible, and transient. The comparison to grass renewed in the morning further emphasizes the nature of life, where even the most vibrant and verdant aspects find their renewal, only to fade again in the passage of time.
In verse six Moses writes:
Psalm 90:6 ESV
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
Continuing the metaphor, verse 6 expands on the pattern introduced in the previous verse. The morning brings forth flourishing and renewal, symbolizing the vitality and potential inherent in the start of each new day. Yet, as the day progresses into the evening, the vibrancy fades, and the once-lush grass withers. This rhythmic cycle encapsulates the temporal nature of life—a continual dance between birth and decay, growth and fading.
We discern a profound connection between our origin and the fleeting nature of our lives. In being formed from dust, our mortality becomes intricately woven into the very fabric of our existence. This acknowledgment is not a harbinger of despair but rather an invitation to humility and awe. From the dust, we rise, and to the dust, we return—a poignant reminder of our dependence on the eternal God who shapes our finite existence.
In the weaving together of these threads, we find a tapestry rich with layers of meaning. The divine act of returning to dust encompasses not just the temporal journey but the very essence of our humanity. The imagery of the watch in the night deepens our understanding of time, urging us to embrace the brevity of life with purpose and mindfulness.

The Consequence of Sin

As we progress through Psalm 90, our contemplative gaze now turns toward verses 7-11, where Moses unveils a sobering exploration of the consequence of sin and the righteous response of God's judgment. This section delves into the complexities of the human condition, highlighting the imperative need for introspection and repentance.
In verse seven we read:
Psalm 90:7 ESV
For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.
Here, Moses articulates a stark reality—humanity's journey is marked by the termination wrought by God's anger. The term "brought to an end" conveys the severity of divine judgment. As we reflect on this verse, it's crucial to understand that the consequence of sin is not merely a temporal inconvenience but a profound disruption in the divine-human relationship. The acknowledgment of God's anger serves as a poignant call to confront the gravity of our actions.
In verse eight we read:
Psalm 90:8 ESV
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
Moses unveils a penetrating truth—our iniquities, even the hidden ones, are laid bare in the unyielding light of God's presence. The divine gaze penetrates the recesses of our hearts, bringing to light the sins concealed in shadows. This transparency underscores the futility of attempting to conceal our transgressions from the One who sees all.
Then in verse nine we read:
Psalm 90:9 ESV
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
In this verse, Moses poignantly captures the temporal consequence of living under God's wrath. The imagery of days passing away under divine wrath is a stark acknowledgment of the weight carried by the consequences of sin. Our existence, marked by the divine displeasure, is likened to a sigh—a momentary exhale that signifies both the transience and the weight of our journey. This metaphorical language evokes a sense of brevity and solemnity, urging us to reckon with the gravity of life lived under the shadow of divine displeasure.
In verse ten we read:
Psalm 90:10 ESV
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Here, Moses delves into the natural course of human life, marked by the brevity and challenges inherent in our earthly pilgrimage. The reference to the typical lifespan of seventy to eighty years, though subject to variation, sets the stage for a reflection on the toil and trouble embedded in the human experience. The language of "soon gone" resonates with the fleeting nature of our journey—a transient pilgrimage marked by both the weight of sin and the inevitability of departure. The imagery of flying away suggests a swift departure, underscoring the swiftness with which our earthly years unfold.
Then in verse eleven Moses writes:
Psalm 90:11 ESV
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
This verse serves as a rhetorical question, inviting reflection on the sobering reality of God's anger and wrath. Moses prompts us to consider the profound implications of living under divine displeasure and to measure the weight of God's wrath in accordance with the fear of Him. The question challenges the listener to delve into the depths of reverence and awe, recognizing the significance of aligning our lives with the fear of God. In contemplating the power of divine anger, a call to humility and repentance emerges—a recognition that the fear of God shapes our understanding of the consequences of sin.
These verses weave together the consequences of sin—our days passing away under God's wrath, the brevity and toil of life, and the urgent call to acknowledge the power of God's anger. The fleeting nature of our existence, described as passing away "like a sigh," invites us to recognize the temporal consequences of sin. In contemplating the brevity of life under divine wrath, the urgency to align our lives with the fear of God becomes evident.
Moses, in his poetic revelation, doesn't shy away from acknowledging God's righteous anger and wrath. The divine response to sin is portrayed with gravity, emphasizing the inherent justice in God's judgment. As we grapple with this truth, it's essential to approach it with a posture of humility, recognizing the divine sovereignty over the consequences of our actions.
The unveiling of hidden sins in the light of God's presence serves as a powerful call to introspection. The psalmist's words echo the wisdom of repentance—an acknowledgment of our transgressions and a turning away from hidden iniquities. This revelation prompts us to cultivate transparency in our relationship with God, fostering an environment where repentance and transformation can flourish.
The brevity of life under God's judgment calls us to live purposefully. Each passing moment is an opportunity for intentional living—a life characterized by alignment with God's will, repentance for hidden sins, and a conscious awareness of the divine urgency. The temporal nature of our existence, framed by the righteous anger of God, compels us to seize the present, recognizing it as a sacred gift.

A Prayer

Our gaze now shifts to verses 12-17, revealing a poignant prayer offered by Moses. In the midst of contemplating the brevity of human life and the weight of divine judgment, Moses unveils a heartfelt plea for wisdom and favor.
He begins in verse twelve and writes:
Psalm 90:12 ESV
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Moses opens his prayer with a profound request for divine instruction—to learn to number our days. This plea transcends a mere numerical count; it delves into the depth of understanding the brevity of life. The correlation between numbering our days and acquiring a heart of wisdom underscores the transformative nature of this knowledge. Wisdom, in this context, is not a theoretical concept but a lived experience, shaping our perspectives and choices in light of the fleeting nature of time.
He continues and writes in verses thirteen and fourteen:
Psalm 90:13–14 ESV
Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Here, Moses intertwines a prayer for the Lord's return with a plea for the satisfaction found in God's steadfast love. The cry for God's presence and compassion amid the brevity of life reveals an intimate understanding of the source of true joy. The juxtaposition of morning and rejoicing signifies a daily renewal—a continual seeking of God's love that becomes the wellspring of enduring joy throughout our earthly lives.
In verses 15 and 16 he writes:
Psalm 90:15–16 ESV
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
Moses, in his prayer, seeks a divine reversal—a transformation of affliction into joy and a revelation of God's work and power. The acknowledgment of affliction and evil is met with a hopeful plea for divine intervention. This echoes a profound truth—that God's redemptive work can infuse joy into our days, transcending the sorrows that accompany the transient nature of life.
Finally in verse 17 Moses writes:
Psalm 90:17 ESV
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!
In the final verse, Moses petitions for God's favor and divine establishment of the work of their hands. This plea encapsulates a desire for the intersection of human endeavors with divine favor. The repetition emphasizes the earnestness of this request, reinforcing the desire for God's enduring presence in the labor and toil of life.
Moses' plea for wisdom resonates with a profound recognition of life's brevity. The request to "number our days" goes beyond a chronological exercise—it is an invitation to live purposefully, wisely stewarding the moments entrusted to us. In the face of temporal fragility, wisdom becomes a guiding light, illuminating the path toward meaningful living.
Moses' prayer is a timeless invitation for us to seek God's favor and joy amid the transient nature of life. The plea for God's steadfast love, the transformation of affliction into joy, and the desire for divine establishment in our endeavors all converge in a symphony of hope. As we navigate the brevity of our earthly journey, let us be encouraged to turn to the source of true joy—God's unfailing love—and seek His favor in all our pursuits.
Moses' prayer ultimately transcends personal desires; it encapsulates a broader theme of seeking God's glory in the midst of our daily lives. The plea for divine establishment and the revelation of God's glorious power extend beyond individual aspirations to encompass a collective desire for God's presence to be manifest in the work of His people. As we seek wisdom, favor, and joy, may it all converge in a harmonious pursuit of reflecting God's glory in every facet of our lives.

Living With Purpose

As we stand on the threshold of a new year, let the timeless truth of the Westminster Catechism echo in our hearts—The first question asks, “What is the chief end of man.” And it give the answer: “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. As we anticipate the unfolding days of 2024, let us consider how we can weave this foundational principle into the fabric of our daily existence.
Take time to reflect on the fleeting nature of life. Consider the brevity of each passing day, the transient beauty of every sunrise and sunset. As we bid farewell to 2023, let the truth of Psalm 90:12 resonate in your heart: "So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom." Embrace a posture of introspection, acknowledging the passing nature of each moment, and cultivate a heart attuned to the wisdom found in recognizing life's brevity.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, let us be intentional about seeking God's glory by enjoying Him daily. Each interaction, every task, provides an opportunity to glorify God through the joy found in His presence. As Psalm 90:17 implores, "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands." Infuse your daily endeavors with the intentionality of seeking God's favor and joy, allowing His glory to radiate through your actions and the enjoyment of His presence.
Set aside a few moments each day for reflection. Consider keeping a journal to capture thoughts, blessings, and moments of gratitude. Use this practice to intentionally number your days, fostering a heart of wisdom, and finding joy in God's presence.
Seek out opportunities for acts of kindness in your daily life. Whether it's a word of encouragement, a helping hand, or a simple gesture of love, let each action reflect the joy found in enjoying God's presence and glorifying Him through your kindness.
As you set goals for the new year, align them with the pursuit of God's glory by finding joy in His will. Whether in personal development, relationships, or career aspirations, let the overarching theme be the reflection of God's character in your journey.
Make a commitment to engage regularly with God's Word. Allow the Scriptures to guide your thoughts, decisions, and actions. Let the eternal truths found in the Bible shape your perspective on the transient nature of life, cultivating a life of joy in God's presence.
Follow Moses' example by incorporating prayers for wisdom and favor into your daily routine. Seek God's guidance and favor in your decisions, interactions, and endeavors. Invite the presence of the Lord to establish the work of your hands, finding joy in the enjoyment of His glory.

So What?

We have come to that point in our sermon where we need to address the pivotal question: So what difference does our sermon make in your life today, tomorrow, and in the years to come?
*1. Today:
Today, embrace the brevity of life by living with intention. Let every action, every conversation, be infused with the awareness that our days are numbered. Seek joy in God's presence, glorifying Him by enjoying the richness of the life He has given you.
Today, make a conscious effort to seek God's glory in the ordinary moments. Whether at work, at home, or in your community, find joy in glorifying God by enjoying His presence. Your actions, no matter how small, can become a testament to His enduring glory.
*2. Tomorrow:
Carry the lessons from today into tomorrow. As you set goals and plan for the future, let the pursuit of God's glory be the driving force. Build a legacy of purpose that reflects the joy found in living with a heart of wisdom and seeking God's favor.
Tomorrow, let the transient nature of life be a reminder to live with eternity in mind. Your decisions, relationships, and endeavors can take on a new depth when shaped by the eternal perspective found in Psalm 90.
*3. In the Years to Come:
In the years to come, let the pursuit of God's glory and the enjoyment of His presence be a lifelong journey. Cultivate a spirit of continuous learning and growth, always seeking wisdom and favor from the Lord.
As you navigate the years ahead, consider the impact your intentional living can have on future generations. Your commitment to glorifying God by enjoying Him can create a ripple effect, shaping the lives of those who come after you.
The difference Psalm 90 can make in your life is profound. It invites you to step into each day with purpose, to seek God's glory in the ordinary, and to live with a perspective that extends far beyond the temporal. Today, tomorrow, and in the years to come, may your life be marked by the joy found in glorifying God by enjoying Him forever.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father,
As we bring our time together to a close, we lift our hearts in gratitude for the wisdom gleaned from Psalm 90. Thank You for the reminder of the brevity of life and the call to glorify You by enjoying Your presence.
As we step out from this sacred space, may Your Word continue to resonate in our hearts. Grant us the grace to carry the lessons learned today into the moments that await us. We pray for Your guidance, wisdom, and favor to be evident in every aspect of our lives.
Lord, empower us to live with intention, seeking Your glory in the ordinary and finding joy in Your presence. May the truths revealed today shape our decisions, relationships, and aspirations, aligning them with the eternal perspective found in Your Word.
Go before us, O Lord, as we embark on the journey ahead. Keep us ever mindful of Your enduring love and the purpose You've instilled in each of us.
In the name of Jesus, we pray.
May The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Be blessed to be a blessing.
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