Praying to a Gracious God
(12) So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (13) Return, Yahweh. How long (will it be)? Have compassion on your servants. (14) Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. (15) Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen evil. (16) Let your work be shown to your servants and your splendor to their children. (17) Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands. Yes, establish the work of our hands.
In the first segment of Psalm 90, Moses emphasized the eternality of God (vss. 1-6). In the second segment, Moses focused on God’s wrath against our sin (vss. 7-11). In these concluding verses, Moses meditates on God’s grace using three synonyms to speak of his undeserved mercy: “compassion” (vs. 13), “steadfast love” (vs. 14), and “favor” (vs. 17).
To guide us in exploring the riches of God’s steadfast love, Moses offers eight prayer requests in these six verses. This list can serve as a good model for how an effective intercessor should pray. Of all the leaders Israel ever had, Moses was by far the greatest prayer warrior. Time and again he turned God’s attitude toward the nation from wrath to mercy by his powerful prayers of intercession.
OUTLINE (subject completed)
How we should pray in view of God’s undeserved favor:
- Teach us to have a heart of wisdom. (12)
- Grant us your presence. (13)
- Have compassion on your servants. (13)
- Satisfy us daily with your steadfast love. (14)
- Make us glad in our afflictions. (15)
- Show us your work and your splendor. (16)
- Let your favor be upon us. (17)
- Establish the work of our hands. (17)
The more we know of God’s compassion and grace, the more we should be motivated to undertake the ministry of intercession.
Any of these eight prayer requests Moses offered to God in these latter verses of the psalm is worthy of our study and meditation. One in particular stands out when we consider Moses’ personal relationship with Yahweh as recorded in Exodus 33: “Let your work be shown to your servants and your splendor to their children” (vs. 16).
Exodus 32 gives us yet another account of Israel’s rebellion against God, one that took them almost beyond the point of no return. Moses had trekked up Mt. Sinai to commune with God for forty days. While there he received the tablets of stone on which God had inscribed the Ten Commandments with his own finger. When Moses descended with the tablets in his arms, he found the nation partying in the midst of idolatrous revelry, worshiping the golden calf which Aaron had fashioned for them. God came within a hair’s breadth of destroying the nation and making a new people out of Moses’ own family (Ex. 32:10). Only Moses’ fervent intercession, pleading with God to spare the nation (Ex. 32:11-13), narrowly averted God’s wrath (Ex. 32:14).
Moses retraced his steps up the mountain and into God’s presence to receive a second copy of the Ten Commandments since he had thrown the original tablets to the ground, breaking them as a demonstration of God’s anger with the people (Ex. 32:19). While there, he offered several requests reflected in the prayers of Psalm 90:
- “Teach me your ways” (cf. Ps. 90:12 with Ex. 33:13).
- “May your presence go with us” (cf. Ps. 90:13 with Ex. 33:14 & 15).
- “Show me your glory” (cf. Ps. 90:16 with Ex. 33:18).
It is this last request that should astound us with its boldness. God wonderfully responded by allowing Moses a glimpse of his glory, not of his face but of his back, as he passed by in an unprecedented display of divine majesty. “Show me your glory” is a request which clearly delights the heart of God when he hears it from spiritually hungry hearts. Let us make this our prayer today as we strive for an ever-deepening relationship with the one who loves us everlastingly.