February 21: Psalm 90


February 21: Psalm 90

Proper perspective on life

88.88.88                   St. Catherine (Faith of our Fathers)
Melita (Eternal Father, Strong to Save), p. 150

Lord, Thou has been our dwelling place

Through all the ages of our race,

Before the mountains had their birth,

Or ever Thou hadst formed the earth,

From years which no beginning had

To years unending, Thou art God.

Thou turnest man to dust again,

And say’st, “Return, ye sons of men.”

As yesterday when past appears,

So are to Thee a thousand years;

They like a day are in Thy sight,

Yes, like a passing watch by night.

Thou with a flood hast swept men on;

They like a sleep are quickly gone,

They are like grass which grows each morn;

Its blades of green the fields adorn.

At morn its sprouts and blossoms rise;

At eve, cut down, it withered lies.

For by Thine anger we’re consumed,

And by Thy wrath to terror doomed.

Our sins Thou in Thy sight dost place,

Our secret faults before Thy face;

So in Thy wrath our days we end,

And like a sigh our years we spend.

For some life’s years are seventy;

Perhaps the strong may eighty see;

Their best involves but toil and woe;

All quickly ends. How soon we go!

Who has Thine anger understood?

Who fears Thy fury as he should?

O teach Thou us to count our days

And set our hearts on wisdom’s ways.

How long, O Lord? Return! Relent,

And have compassion; we are spent.

Each morning fills us with Thy grace;

We’ll sing for joy through all our days.

According to the days we spent

Beneath affliction Thou has sent,

And all the years we evil knew,

Now make us glad, our joy renew.

Thy deeds to all Thy servants show;

Thy splendor on their sons bestow.

On us let there be shed abroad

The beauty of the Lord our God.

Our handiwork, O let it be

Established evermore by Thee.

Yes, let our handiwork now be

Established evermore by Thee.

Surely new though each day is, we do not really start it from scratch, for each day begins with the memory of days gone by: “Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.” God is eternal, but man is frail. Even as we go forth to our daily labor, we know that work is now onerous because we are fallen creatures. Even as we endeavor to labor in such a way as to manifest the glory of God, the difficulty of the work itself, along with the weariness that attends it, bears witness to the Fall of our first parents and the curse laid upon our race—that we labor until we die. Psalm 90 gives voice to the sentiments of a folk thus cursed. The flow of the years, the passage of days into nights, conducts us all to death. The eternal God, however, is outside of time, abiding beyond the vicissitudes of this earth. To Him the passage of time seems no more than an instant—a line from this psalm which 2 Peter 3:8 quotes to remind Christians that God is not subject to our own sense of time. By reason of our incorporation into Christ, our daily labor may now share in the firstfruits of redemption, our glorification as God’s children. Our daily work, done for the sake of His glory, may become the medium by which that glory is rendered manifest. (Reardon, p.177-178)