January 2, 2017
Psalm 90:10, 12; James 4:13-15
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Psalm 90 is, in its title, is ascribed thus: “A Prayer of Moses the man of God.” Whether Moses authored it or not is debatable, since it is generally thought that most titles were added by Jewish scribes perhaps centuries later. But even if they were added later, since the scribes would have carefully studied the psalms themselves and the lives of the authors to which they concluded wrote them, we can ‘go with the flow’ and say Moses wrote Psalm 90!
What I find interesting is, Moses lived to be 120 years old, according to Deuteronomy 34:7. But in Psalm 90:10 he writes:
The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they
are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon
cut off, and we fly away.
But then I think of Numbers 14:28 through 35, where God declared to all of Israel, “The carcasses of you who have murmured against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you…from twenty years old and above.” (verse 29). They had rebelled against God by refusing to march in and conquer the Promised Land! They believed the negative report of the twelve spies rather than God’s declarations of promised victory! “And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.” (verse 33 – King James Version). So seventy or eighty years would be the experience of most of the Israelites!
According to Moses, what should be our Focus? Psalm 90:12 has the answer: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” What is wisdom? It is properly applying what we know to what we do – that is, to how we live! For Christians: we know Jesus Christ, and should be growing in the knowledge of living out our lives in obedience to Him! (See II Corinthians 10:5, 6; Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; I Thessalonians 2:12; I Peter 1:14; II Peter 3;18). And since we only have a certain number of days to live, heed II Timothy 2:15 (Modern King James Version): “Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”
James teaches on the same subject in James 4:13 through 15:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such
a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”: whereas you
do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even
a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you
ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
“…a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” That’s life, alright! My wife and I late last summer were coming home with three grandboys in the car – thankfully all bucked in! With no warning what was about to happen, a woman, speeding and texting, plowed into a pickup truck, slamming it into a head-on collision with our car as we were coming the other way! We could have easily all been killed! Thank God we all (sort of) walked away! On Thanksgiving day a different story unfolded for a young family of three from the Pittsburgh area – a dad, mom, and a two year old – driving to their Thanksgiving dinner. A young man (with a suspended license and drugs in the car) was fleeing police at a hundred miles per hour! He ran a red light and t-boned the young family’s car – killing all three!
What is your life? James asks. Just a vapor! And at seventy years old, I am often reminded of that! I walk two miles to our church three morning a week to meet a friend for prayer at 6:30 AM. As the days get colder especially, it is sometimes foggy as I walk up the hill. But by the time I walk back, around 7:30 AM, the fog is almost always gone. It is just “…a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” So what amount of time do I have left to live on this side of heaven? Five, ten, twenty years? Whatever time I have left, I want to focus on serving the Lord, on loving Him – and obeying Him (compare Mark 12:30 with John 14:15). I want to bring others to know Christ, and help them to “…grow up in all things into Him…” (Ephesians 4:15). This is my overriding Focus! And the one thing I want most of all, when I see Jesus face to face (see I Corinthians 13:12), is to hear Him say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:21 and 23).
What is your Focus?