Summary: From everlasting to everlasting, differences in time intervals are insignificant to God. In all generations, he is our dwelling place. How is God a place?
For Sermon Central researchers: I have posted a series of 15 sermons on the Psalms. In recent personal studies I have found the psalms to be richer and more thought-provoking than I had fully appreciated. I had too often swept swiftly through psalms without slowing down to inquire as thoroughly as I might have into the depths of meaning and feeling that are expressed by the psalmists. Upon deeper examination and reflection, I find the psalms to be highly relevant to Christians in every age. My most recent foray into the psalms led me to present a series of studies of selected psalms in a class environment.
In my classes I did not examine every psalm, or every verse of the ones I did. Rather, I presented selected psalms that I believe to be representative of the collection in the book of Psalms. The studies were held in a class environment suitable for pauses for questions and discussion, and to pose “thought questions” where the meanings are not readily apparent, as is often the case in poetry. My notes include suggested points for such pauses, and I have not removed them in Sermon Central posts.
I developed the material with the view in mind that the series may be well used as sermons. There is an introductory sermon that describes what psalms are (whether they are in the 150-chapter book or elsewhere) and explains my approach to the series. The psalms I selected were presented in no particular order in the classes; however, I suggest that anyone using this material as a series begin with the introductory sermon and follow it with Psalms 1 and 2 in that order, as the first two psalms function as a pair. Beyond that, the selected psalms may be presented in any order.
To get as much enjoyment as we could from our study, I did some of the reading from the KJV, which I believe is the most beautiful of the English bible translations. For clarity we also used other versions, mainly ESV, which I have used for several years and the one I have come to prefer.
The title, A Psalm of Moses, the Man of God, attributes this psalm to Moses; however, the authorship is somewhat in dispute. It’s not my purpose to settle that dispute today beyond merely mentioning that it exists. For what my opinion may be worth, I’m of the belief because of the content that Moses wrote it. If that’s true, it’s possibly the oldest psalm.
Moses is one of a handful of predominant figures in the bible…among them Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob (Israel), Moses, David, Elijah (perhaps fittingly representing all the writing prophets), and in the New Testament, Elijah again, in whose spirit John the Baptist came, Jesus the cornerstone, and the apostles – especially 4 of them – Peter, James, and John and Paul who wrote most of the New Testament.
Here we have the opportunity to go into the mind of Moses and share his stream of thought of God. In addition to being a song, the psalm is a prayer from beginning to end. Moses address the content of this psalm to God.
I’m reading Psalm 90 in the KJV because it contains such majestic and stirring thoughts and to me, the KJV more fittingly conveys its grandeur than more modern versions. I’ll read other passages from the ESV.
Our dwelling place
Psalm 90:1-2 KJV - Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
How is God a place?
Let’s look at another psalm, this one by David:
Psalm 15:1 “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”
The first verse of Psalm 15 appears to be the poetic form where the second line of a pair does not simply repeat the first, but clarifies it or – as in this verse – expands it.
The remaining verses in Psalm 15 proceed to describe the one who is to abide and the Lord’s tabernacle, and the same shall dwell in God’s holy hill (Zion).
We all have dwelling places. Our dwelling place is our HOME. Home is a sanctuary, a place of refuge and safety. That is true in all generations.
Firstly, let’s recognize that neither our “dwelling place,” nor that of the people who originally sang these words refers to the temple at Jerusalem. It didn’t exist until 500 years after Moses, who never entered Canaan. The temple certainly didn’t exist in “all generations.”
Nor did Moses more broadly refer to the land of Canaan. Keep in mind that for about 400 years the Israelites were not in the land that was promised to them, but they knew God had promised it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a promise that had not yet been realized. But now this generation was being led to Canaan for the realization of that promise. And with the exception of two faithful spies, the entire generation of Israelites that left Egypt would never enter Canaan. Moses would not have said “Thou has been…in all generations” if the dwelling place he referred to was Canaan.