May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)
This is the final verse of Psalm 90, the only Psalm that credits Moses as its author. It’s not surprising that Moses concludes his Psalm with these words, as he prayed a similar prayer six times in the book of Deuteronomy alone (see Deuteronomy 2:7; 14:29; 16:15; 24:19; 28:12; 30:9).
First, I think Moses understood that this prayer is a practical way of reminding ourselves that God alone produces results through our work. In Deuteronomy 8:18, Moses said that “it is [God] who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” How do we remind ourselves of that truth? By joining Moses in praying the words of today’s passage.
Second, I think Moses continually offered up this prayer because it is deep within the heart of any human being for our work to outlive us. That’s what Moses is praying for in Psalm 90:17. The Hebrew word for "establish" in “establish the work of our hands” literally means to "make permanent."
And isn’t that what we all long for? Arthur Miller says it is. In his play, Death of a Salesman, Miller said that our desire “to leave a thumbprint somewhere on the world” is a “need greater than hunger or sex or thirst…A need for immortality, and by admitting it, the knowing that one has carefully inscribed one’s name on a cake of ice on a hot July day.”
That’s spot on. The question, of course, is which work will be “made permanent”? In short, any work done “in the Lord'' (see 1 Corinthians 15:58). Any work done for his glory rather than our own. Because unless the things on our to-do lists are on God’s to-do list, they will eventually amount to nothing.
The advancement of “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14), working “heartily as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23), doing excellent work as a means of “loving your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39), “making disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), and working to make “all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
Pray that the Lord would establish that work of your hands today!
You can find Jordan's original blog post here.