Our Eternal Refuge*

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

Many biblical scholars believe that Moses wrote Psalm 90 near the end of his life, perhaps after the trilogy of sorrows recorded in Numbers 20—Miriam’s death, his own failure at Meribah Kadesh, and Aaron’s death.

Very few things in the life of a desert dweller had permanence, and Moses lived in the desert for eighty years. Daily he encountered the shifting desert landscapes and the complications that arose from tent life. Daily he dodged the mood swings of two million desert travelers.

Therefore, Moses anchors this somber reflection to the one truth that remained steadfast in his uncertain life—the everlasting, ever-faithful character of Jehovah. Then he compares God to the one feature of his desert world that was equally immovable—the mountains.

Moses had triumphs like no other human being has ever had: defeating Pharaoh, crossing the Red Sea, sculpting a nation of warriors out of a lump of slaves, and most significantly, communing with God face to face.

He also had sorrows that no human being ever wants to experience:  He watched an entire generation of Israelites die because of their disobedience (over one million people). He saw the earth swallow his cousin Korah and witnessed the execution of 3,000 rebels. He climbed Mount Nebo and surveyed the land he could not enter.

Nevertheless, the triumphs did not shake his dependence on God, and the tragedies did not shake his confidence in the goodness of God.  In verse 14, he writes, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

We, too, are desert travelers. The winds of economic uncertainty swirl about us. The shifting sands of personal health sometimes lay us flat on our backs. The blazing heat of emotional turmoil parches our souls. But like Moses, we have an eternal refuge and His favor rests upon us (v. 17).


Read Psalm 90 and then Numbers 20. How do the words of Psalm 90 reflect the sorrow Moses felt when Miriam and Aaron died?

The Hebrew word, no’am, translated “favor” (NIV) or “beauty”(KJV) refers to all the pleasantness in life we experience because God loves us and cares for us. What blessings does Moses list in Deuteronomy 32:1-11?

The last words of Moses recorded in the Bible are found in Deuteronomy 33:27-29.  What does he emphasize?

Denise K. Loock

*Note: This devotion appears in a slightly different form in Open Your Hymnal: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song. Order a copy at

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