Introduction: Moses did so much for the Israelites. Do you think he
taught them to pray? I’ll bet he did. Our study this week is a unique
opportunity to study a prayer that is attributed by most scholars to
Moses. The NIV, along with many translations, begins Psalms 90 with
the script: “A prayer of Moses the man of God.” Let’s dive into our
study of this important prayer of Moses!
- Our Dwelling Place
- Read Psalms 90:1-2. Compare it with the beginning of
Jesus’ model prayer: Matthew 6:9-10. What thoughts do you
find in common? (First, the intimacy of “Our Father” is
similar to the Lord being “our dwelling.” Second,
mentioning the holiness of God’s name is similar to
bringing our thoughts to the awesome nature of our
- How does it help our prayer attitude to remember God
is the Creator of the earth? What does that do for
- How does it help our prayer attitude to remember that
God is timeless (“from everlasting to everlasting”)?
(We can turn in time of need to a great God who
transcends earth and time. He is the perfect
- Our Weakness
- Read Psalms 90:3-6. Do you consider these verses to be an
insult or a comfort?
- Think about it for a minute. What is the source of
most of your day to day problems? (Other people. We
can look at this text as a comfort because “our
Helper” is so much greater than any man.)
- What do these verses do to our sense of self-importance? (These verses put things in perspective.
I remember reading a book on the Civil War and
reports of huge numbers of men being killed in
certain battles. It suddenly dawned on me that, in
the scheme of things, my life was not that
- God’s Anger About Sin
- Read Psalms 90:7-11. Is God angry with us? Was He angry
with Moses? Does Moses sound suicidal? Depressed?
- The time when Moses wrote this prayer is
unfortunately unclear. Our lesson suggests it was
towards the end of the time when he when he was a
shepherd in Midian (which would make Moses about 80
years old). Three commentaries I consulted, Jamieson,
Fausset and Brown, Barnes and Keil & Delitzsch all
suggest it was towards the end of the 40 years of
Israel wandering in the wilderness (which would make
Moses about 120 years old). Which of these time
frames makes the most sense to you considering Moses’
statements about God’s anger and our sins?
- Why was Moses in Midian? (Read Exodus 2:12-15.)
- What sins would God be angry about if Moses were
in Midian at the time of this prayer?
- Put yourself in Moses’ place: Your destiny was
to free your people from slavery in Egypt.
However, you fled Egypt when you were 40 years
old ( Acts 7:23-24) because you killed an
Egyptian. You have now been in Midian for 40
years and are 80 years of age. You think that
you only live for 70-80 years. ( Psalms 90:10)
- How do you feel about your life?
- Have any regrets?
- What impact has the sin of killing an
Egyptian, doing things your way, had on
- Would that attitude explain Psalms 90:9?
- Let’s assume a later date for this prayer.
Assume that Moses wrote it towards the end of
the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
( Numbers 14:33)
- What sins resulted in Moses wandering with
the Israelites in the desert for 40? (See
- Put yourself in Moses place. You spent 40
years as a shepherd because of your sin of
killing an Egyptian. You are now spending
another 40 years in the wilderness
(supervising shepherds) because of their
sins. Do you think avoiding sin is an
important goal in your life?
- How do you feel about the impact sin
has had on your life?
- Does Moses’ prayer in Psalms 90:7-11
seem reasonable in this context?
- Psalms 90:8 says our secret sins are set before God.
Are there things you would not do if other church
members were around?
- If you say, “yes,” does this make any sense in
light of Psalms 90:8? (No. If you would not do
something if a church member were looking
(because you thought it was sin), why would you
do it when God is looking?)
- What We Learn From Our Errors
- Read Psalms 90:12. Consider the context here. Moses has
been talking about the problems that arise because of our
sins. What does it mean to “number our days?” (Count
- What advantage is there to counting (considering) how
long we will live?
- If you were Moses, were 80 and a shepherd in Midian,
and you had not accomplished your life goal, what
would counting your days do for you? (It would make
me feel desperate. I would feel I was a failure.
Moses probably thought it was too late for him. He
was passing on what he had learned to another
generation. His advice was to pay close attention to
obeying God because you have a limited time to
fulfill God’s role for you.)
- If you were 120 years old and was barred from the
goal of your life (leading the Israelites into
Canaan) because of your sin, how would you feel about
counting your days?
- Is it wisdom to realize how important time is to
- Is it wisdom to spend most of your “free” time
- Read Psalms 90:13. Does God have compassion on us? If you
said, “yes,” then why does Moses ask God to “relent?”
(Whether Moses was in Midian or wandering in the
wilderness with Israel, he was “in prison” because of his
mistakes. I think he is saying, “God, please show me mercy
and let me get on with my life goals.”)
- If we sin and suffer for it, should we just “put up
with it” or should we ask God to remove the
- God’s Love Shines Through
- Let’s look realistically at the punishment of Midian and
of wandering in the wilderness. Is God the one who sent
Moses to Midian? (We read earlier that Moses fled there
because he feared Pharoah.)
- Was Israel’s wandering in the wilderness as free men
and women worse than being slaves in Egypt?
- If you say, “no,” to both of these questions,
then what is the gripe?
- Read Psalms 90:14-17. Can Moses see God’s love in all
things? What lesson is there in this for us? (Moses calls
God’s love “unfailing.” The love of God is there, he just
asks God to apply it to his situation.)
- What is Moses asking for in verse 15? (He wants God to
give him an equal number of years without punishment! For
every year of punishment he asks for a year of joy.)
- If he is in Midian, that would be another 40 years.
If that is the wilderness, that would be another 80
years. Did God grant Moses’ prayer? (Yes, and then
some! See Jude 9 and Matthew 17:3-4. God took Moses
- If Moses is praying Psalms 90:15 in Midian, how
do you think he felt 40 years later in the
- How do you think he felt when God told him he
could not enter Canaan because he struck the
rock instead of speaking to it? (See Deuteronomy
32:48-51. This teaches us we need patience and
faith in God’s “unfailing” love.)
- If God loves us, what should we expect from Him according
to verses 16 and 17 of Psalms 90? (That God’s deeds will
become clear. That our work for Him will be established.
Not just for us, but for our children!)
- Friend, if you are young, are you conscious every day
about how you spend your time? Are you careful not to
engage in sins that will injure your life for years to
come? If you are old, do you feel that much of your life
has been wasted because of sin? Moses calls upon us to be
careful with our time and our obedience to God. He
encourages those who have made mistakes and have regrets
to continue to be faithful.
- Next Week: Prayers of Triumph: Hannah and Mary