THE CLOSE OF ANOTHER YEAR
As we approach the end of another year, let’s look at Psalm 90 which includes the word “year” more than any other Psalm. In the Hebrew text of Psalm 90, the word translated as “year” (shena) appears seven times.
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy 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 trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90’s theme speaks to us as we wrap up another calendar year. It notes that God has been our home “through all generations,” from year to year, “before the mountains were born,” God is God. God is always there for us.
Though we tend to make a big deal out of the change of years, from God’s perspective, “a thousand years are as a passing day”. This fact reminds us of God’s unmatched majesty. It also suggests that all the hype surrounding New Year’s doesn’t really matter in the long run. When the big crystal ball falls in Times Square, what will really be different, other than the number of the year?
Does this mean we should not rejoice in the passing of another year? Hardly, verse 12 offers this prayer to the Lord: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom”. Accepting the limit of our lives will help us to use well every minute God gives us.
Psalm 90 underscores the fact that fulfillment in life isn’t a matter of how much we have or how much we accomplish, rather, what gives life purpose and meaning is a living relationship with the living God. “Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.” What a great thought with which to end this year and begin a new one. If we live each day in the satisfaction of God’s love, we will be empowered to live for Him, to love Him through serving our neighbors. We won’t fret about the passing years, but will accept the gift of each day as a new opportunity for love and service.