Psalm 90 is a meditation on time and eternity and it contrasts the brevity of our lives on earth with God’s eternal years, and yet it also speaks of how God, even from eternity comforts us, as we live in time, comforts us from one generation to another:
LORD, thou hast been our refuge: from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made: thou art God from everlasting, and world without end.
The key image for the brevity of our lives is the image of cut grass withering and fading:
As soon as thou scatterest them they are even as a sleep: and fade away suddenly like the grass.
In the morning it is green, and groweth up: but in the evening it is cut down, dried up, and withered.
This image in the psalm put me in mind of Cut Grass, the poignant poem by Philip Larkin which begins:
Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death
It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June…
I allude to the Larkin poem in my own response but I also turn the psalm around by meditating on how Christ has stepped out of eternity into time, to share our journey with us, to help us bear our griefs and wipe away our tears.
As always you can hear me read the poems by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalm’ into the search box on the right.
A cosy comforter, a lucky charm?
Not with this psalmist, for he praises God
From everlasting ages, in his psalm.
A God of refuge –yes – and yet a God
Who knows the death that comes before each birth,
Who sees each generation die, a God
Before whom all the ages of the earth
Are like a passing day, like the cut grass
In Larkin’s limpid verse: ‘brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale’. So we and all things pass,
And God endures beyond us. Yet he cares
For our brief lives, his loving tenderness
Extends to all his creatures, our swift years
Are precious in his sight. In Christ he shares
Our grief and he will wipe away our tears.
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