Teach us to count our days, that we may gain a wise heart.

Psalm 90:12

Sonnet for Psalm 90

The years of our life, perhaps eighty if strong,
Their span so brief, filled with toil and trouble,
Days racing past, and all so quickly gone,
Everything built soon becoming rubble.
But there is wisdom here, when we dare look,
For counting our days can open our eyes,
Can teach us those things not found in a book,
And help us refute the world’s needy lies.
Our forever home is not on this earth,
Something better waits, which eye cannot see,
Prepared before the mountains were brought forth,
A dwelling place for all eternity.
“I go to make ready this place for you,”
This place and promise, eternal and true.


Psalm 90 is given this title in my NRSV Bible: “God’s Eternity and Human Frailty.” A good title for this psalm, which reminds us of these two eternal truths. When I hear people speak of purchasing their “forever home,” I can’t help but think of this psalm and many other passages in God’s word that remind us that our forever home is not here. But I also think of the promise that Jesus made in John 14 to go and prepare a place for us, and to come again and to take us to this place, our true forever home. Here, then, is a passage from Psalm 90, followed by the other scripture passages I had in mind when I wrote the sonnet, along with the sonnet again, followed by a closing prayer:

Psalm 90:1-12

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust,
    and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
For a thousand years in your sight
    are like yesterday when it is past,
    or like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning;
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are consumed by your anger;
    by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    our years come to an end like a sigh.
The days of our life are seventy years,
    or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger?
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
So teach us to count our days
    that we may gain a wise heart.

Scripture Reading: John 14:1-3

[Jesus said to his disciples:] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

Sonnet for Psalm 90

The years of our life, perhaps eighty if strong,
Their span so brief, filled with toil and trouble,
Days racing past, and all so quickly gone,
Everything built soon becoming rubble.
But there is wisdom here, when we dare look,
For counting our days can open our eyes,
Can teach us those things not found in a book,
And help us refute the world’s needy lies.
Our forever home is not on this earth,
Something better waits, which eye cannot see,
Prepared before the mountains were brought forth,
A dwelling place for all eternity.
“I go to make ready this place for you,”
This place and promise, eternal and true.

Closing Prayer

Teach us, Lord, to number our days, and help us to remember that our days on this earth are limited. At the same time, remind us of our true forever home, and the promise of eternal life that Jesus made to us and died to fulfill. No matter the circumstances of our life, remind us of both our frailty without you and our eternity with you. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

7 thoughts on “Sonnet for Psalm 90

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