Psalm 90-91 ~ A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God
I”m still working full time, but I’m not nearly as occupied with church now that we are essentially shut down. What should churches be doing right now? Some are claiming Psalm 90-91. Is this applicable? During what would have been our small group last Wednesday (which was cancelled), God gave me this lesson. Maybe I’ll get to teach it in person one day. Who knows? But here it is for all of you. Note: This is basically an outline. If I did teach this I would need to come up with some discussion questions and “fill in the skeleton” a bit, so to speak.
A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God
Psalm 90 has many interesting truths to it. Would it help us to understand this psalm better if we examined the context in which it was written? Let’s look at the truths and compare them to the circumstances that were occurring in the nation of Israel as Moses led them in the wilderness.
I. The Eternality of God, Psalm 90:1-4
–A. God has always been and always will be
–B. Time is different for God
–C. God is the reason for our mortality
II. The Mortality of Mankind
–A. Our destruction comes from God, Psalm 90:5-6
–B. Our sinfulness is known to God, Psalm 90:7-8
–C. Knowing our mortality gives us wisdom, Psalm 90:9-12
–>>1. Wisdom will allow us to be satisfied with God, Psalm 90:13-14
–>>2. Wisdom will allow us to see the work that God has been doing through affliction, 90:15-16
–>>3. The beauty of God will be upon us, Psalm 90:17
Since this was written by Moses, we should study this in context. The Israelites were sojourners in the wilderness. They did not have permanent homes of their own. All they had was God for a dwelling place. At different points in the wilderness, the Israelites were rebellious and sinful which provoked God’s wrath in the form of a plague. The mortality of mankind was on display as God would strike down thousands in one day. “Carried away like a flood” or “cut down like grass” is how God would treat the sinful Israelites during these times of His wrath. In spite of this affliction, the children of Israel could be the beautiful people of God if they understood their mortality in light of God’s eternality.
Since Psalm 90 and 91 have no division between them, they are most likely one psalm. The subject matter continues. In Psalm 90, the focus was on God. In Psalm 91, the focus is on the ideal person who trusts God in the midst of the very same set of circumstances that were described in Psalm 90.
III. The person who trusts in God, Psalm 91:1-4
IV. Things that the LORD protects them from, Psalm 91:5-10
–A. Snare of the bird trapper
–B. Deadly pestilence
–C. Terror by night
–D. Arrows by day
–E. Pestilence in darkness
–F. Destruction that lays waste at noon
–G. Evil or plague
V. Protection that the LORD provides
–A. They are under the shadow of His wings, Psalm 91:1-4
–B. Plagues not allowed near them, Psalm 91:7, 10
–C. Angelic protection, Psalm 91:11-12
–D. Walking unharmed through danger, Psalm 91:13
–E. Personal relationship with God, Psalm 91:14-16
VI. The Seven Plagues which came upon Israel which led Moses to write this prayer
–A. Numbers 11:1-3 ~ Taberah. This means burning. This plague came because of complaining.
–B. Numbers 11:4-35 ~ Kibroth-hattaavah. This means The Graves of Craving. This plague came because of lustfulness. The children of Israel wanted different food than the food God was providing for them. God told them what they were doing was sinful, then He gave them the food they wanted, then struck dead all those who went out to eat, Psalm 78:30-31, 106:14-15.
–C. Numbers 12 ~ Plague of leprosy. Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. This plague came because of speaking against the leader that God had chosen.
–D. Numbers 14:36-38 ~ Plague upon the ten unfaithful spies. This plague came because of fear instead of trusting God. The ten spies and the rest of the congregation were afraid that their children would die from the giants in the land. God spared their children and as a sure sign that those ten spies were judged they were all struck dead at the same time, but Joshua and Caleb lived, see also Psalm 95:8-11, Nehemiah 9:17.
–E. Numbers 16 ~ Korah’s rebellion. This plague came because of rebellion against God’s chosen leader. This time there was an attempt to usurp the authority of Moses and Aaron. The emphasis is on the position that Aaron was given by God as high priest. There were three main ways God’s plague was executed. The first instance was that the earth opened up and swallowed the dwelling places of Dathan, Abiram, and Korah. Moses warned everyone to get away from their tents to give them time to repent. No one had to die since God gave them opportunity to leave, but they did not repent. The second instance was the men who wanted to burn incense at the tabernacle were burned. God had ordered that only priests, Aaron and his sons, could burn incense at the tabernacle. Nevertheless, 250 men tried to take this authority upon themselves. The glory of the LORD appeared there and God commanded Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from those men because He would consume them. At first God was going to consume the entire congregation but Moses and Aaron interceded for them. Just after the earth opened up and swallowed the tents of those three, fire came out from the glory of the LORD at the tabernacle and it consumed those 250 men, Psalm 106:16-18. The third instance was on the following day after those events. The congregation began grumbling against Moses and Aaron blaming them for the deaths of the people the day before. A plague arising from the wrath of God began in the camp. Aaron himself had to offer up incense to appease God putting himself between the still living Israelites and those that the plague had struck dead. Standing in between the dead and the living, Aaron made atonement for the children of Israel and stopped the plague. This was a demonstration showing how God was satisfied with the intercession of Aaron as the high priest.
–F. Numbers 21:4-9 ~ The fiery serpents. This plague came because of impatience which resulted in complaining and speaking against the leadership. The LORD sent fiery serpents which caused the people to repent. Instead of taking the plague away, God made a way for anyone to be healed in the midst of the plague.
–G. Numbers 25 ~ The plague of Baal-peor. This plague came because the children of Israel were committing sexual sin with the Moabites openly in the midst of the congregation. As 24,000 were being struck dead, the people involved in this sin were unrepentant. Zimri and Cozbi were leaders in each of their clans within Israel and Moab respectively. It seems that their union was an attempt to take control of the leadership and have Israelites and Moabites look to them for leadership and for an example. Their statement was that this sin would now be accepted in Israel. Other Israelites seemed upset that this was happening as they were weeping, but Phinehas boldly took action and struck them both dead, Psalm 106:28-31.
–H. These seven plagues came because of complaining, gluttony, lack of faith, rebellion, fearfulness, impatience, and fornication, see I Corinthians 10:5-11, Jude 5, 16. The reason why these plagues stayed away from this category of people in Psalm 90-91 is because of the LORD’s protection, but also because these people kept themselves from these particular sins.
I don’t know why the Coronavirus is plaguing the earth right now. Observing Psalm 90-91 in context shows that the reason why these plagues were not coming upon a certain group of people is because of the nature of the plagues in the wilderness. The children of Israel would begin sinning as a people and the LORD would send a plague (His wrath) to correct them. Those that were not in sin would not suffer the plague because there was no need to correct them.
To use Psalm 90-91 as proof that those that belong to God will never suffer the effects of a plague is a conclusion that cannot be universally supported. Paul had an infirmity in the flesh as well as Timothy, see II Corinthians 12:8-9, I Timothy 5:23. Lazarus grew sick and died so that God might be glorified, John 11:1-4. There is a general principle that God protects His people. Sometimes God will spare His people from the effects of a disease or sickness. But for Christians to be foolish in the midst of a global pandemic because they think that God must always protect us is not wise. The original context of Psalm 90-91 is that of God striking those within Israel that were complaining or in some other sin, but those that trusted in God were not touched with that particular plague.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman