Lesson 3

A Prayer of Supplication: Moses

(Psalm 90)
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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!

  1. Our Dwelling Place

    1. 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 everlasting Creator.)

      1. How does it help our prayer attitude to remember God is the Creator of the earth? What does that do for us?

      2. 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 "fixer.")

  2. Our Weakness

    1. Read Psalms 90:3-6. Do you consider these verses to be an insult or a comfort?

      1. 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.)

      2. 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 important.)

  3. God's Anger About Sin

    1. Read Psalms 90:7-11. Is God angry with us? Was He angry with Moses? Does Moses sound suicidal? Depressed?

      1. 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?

        1. Why was Moses in Midian? (Read Exodus 2:12-15.)

        2. What sins would God be angry about if Moses were in Midian at the time of this prayer?

        3. 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)

          1. How do you feel about your life?

          2. Have any regrets?

          3. What impact has the sin of killing an Egyptian, doing things your way, had on your life?

          4. Would that attitude explain Psalms 90:9?

        4. 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)

          1. What sins resulted in Moses wandering with the Israelites in the desert for 40? (See Numbers 14)

          2. 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?

            1. How do you feel about the impact sin has had on your life?

            2. Does Moses' prayer in Psalms 90:7-11 seem reasonable in this context?

      2. Psalms 90:8 says our secret sins are set before God. Are there things you would not do if other church members were around?

        1. 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?)

  4. What We Learn From Our Errors

    1. 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 them.)

      1. What advantage is there to counting (considering) how long we will live?

      2. 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.)

      3. 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?

        1. Is it wisdom to realize how important time is to us?

        2. Is it wisdom to spend most of your "free" time watching television?

    2. 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.")

      1. If we sin and suffer for it, should we just "put up with it" or should we ask God to remove the punishment?

  5. God's Love Shines Through

    1. 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.)

      1. Was Israel's wandering in the wilderness as free men and women worse than being slaves in Egypt?

        1. If you say, "no," to both of these questions, then what is the gripe?

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. 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 to heaven!)

        1. If Moses is praying Psalms 90:15 in Midian, how do you think he felt 40 years later in the wilderness?

        2. 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.)

    4. 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!)

    5. 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.

  6. Next Week: Prayers of Triumph: Hannah and Mary

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