GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” (Psalm 90:1)
Moses likely wrote Psalm 90 near the end of his life. As an old man, Moses did what old men do: he reflected. He reflected on his own life. He reflected on the sad history of the Israelites. Ultimately, he reflected on the brevity and difficulty of human existence. He compared life to a brief nap, to grass which grows up in the morning and is cut down that same evening. He characterized life as days of affliction and years of evil. In other words, life is short; life is hard.
But this is also why Moses directed his readers to the one and only solution for the human condition; namely, the one and only true God. “Lord,” he said. “You have been our dwelling place in all generations.”
What is a dwelling place? A dwelling place is where we live, our home. Moses used this beautiful picture to remind us that when we mortal, finite beings dwell in the Eternal God by faith, we have true life of eternal proportions. True life. True shelter. True safety. True rest. True salvation. Opposed to the fleeting time and stark mortality of human existence, God is our eternal dwelling place; the place where we fully and eternally live.
When we dwell in God, we are dwelling in the right place. Our hopes for deliverance and salvation are in the right place. As Paul wrote in Romans 9:33, “And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Can the same be said of anyone or anything else?
Sadly, many people turn to other “dwelling places” for safety, meaning, self-worth, and happiness. “Money will make me happy.” “Fame will make me happy.” “Addictions will make me happy.” “Revenge will make me happy.” “Infidelity will make me happy.” No, they won’t. They may tease, tempt, numb, and eventually destroy; but they will never bring true, lasting happiness.
In Psalm 90:2 Moses describes God as the Creator of all things. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Consequently, because God created us for Himself, we can find true meaning, peace, and happiness only when we dwell in Him by faith. This is why Moses declared so emphatically, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place.” And again, “You are God.” There is no other God. There is no other solution for the human condition. There is no other eternal dwelling place.
It’s vital, then, that we continue to dwell in God. If you’ve ever read the fine print of a residential lease agreement, you may have noticed the term “dwelling place.” You may have also noticed that the legal definition of a dwelling place is generally a place where one lives and remains, not a place one merely visits, hangs clothes, and stores boxes.
The same is true of our eternal dwelling place, the Lord. We are not in Him to visit but to remain. Think of how careful we are when searching for an earthly dwelling place, an apartment or home. Just the right space. Just the right design. Just the right color, landscaping, and neighborhood. If we are this careful when searching for a temporary dwelling place, how great should our desire be to remain in our eternal dwelling place, the Eternal God?
And if dwelling in God through Christ is the only source of true life, true hope, true joy, true happiness, and true salvation, why would we want to dwell anyplace else?
Mark Weis is pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Lemmon, South Dakota.