By Campus Missionary Mary Rowley, based on Psalm 90
Moses and the Israelites spent 40 years wandering aimlessly around the wilderness. Therefore, when Moses said to God, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations” (verse 1), I imagine the Israelites were rather confused. After all, they had been without a home for years and years, dwelling each night in a new place filled with sand and dust. What did Moses mean, the Lord was their dwelling place? If he was their dwelling place, couldn’t he at least pick a place and stick to it?
Sometimes, I’m tempted to think of God as our dwelling place in this way: when we get to Heaven, we will be in the midst of God for eternity. That will be our dwelling place. But that’s not what Moses says of God in this passage. He doesn’t say, “Lord, you will be our dwelling place.” He says, “Lord, you have been” – and implies “Lord, you have been, you are, and you always will be.” So what did he mean? He didn’t mean a particular place for the Israelites, and he didn’t mean Heaven.
The Psalm goes on to lament of the troubles of this world. Moses describes the fleeting nature of human life and the righteous wrath of God against sinners. However, there is one constant, one positive note: God is there. God was there before the creation of the world; he outlives our short and insignificant lives; he is powerful and present. After recounting all of this, Moses asks God to teach him and the Israelites to be satisfied and joyful.
This is a circle back to the first verse. There he states the fact that God is our dwelling place; here, he asks God to help us dwell in him. If we dwell in him, we will be wise, glad, and willing. In contrast to the temporary and uncertain nature of our lives, God is our refuge – always. We can trust that wherever we go and whenever we need him, God will be there. He’s better than a place and more reliable than we are. Let us repeat the prayer of Moses, and ask God to help us dwell in him!