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BOOK IV

(Psalms 90–106)

Psalm 90

God’s Eternity and Human Frailty

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

1

Lord, you have been our dwelling place

in all generations.

2

Before the mountains were brought forth,

or ever you had formed the earth and the world,

from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

 

3

You turn us back to dust,

and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”

4

For a thousand years in your sight

are like yesterday when it is past,

or like a watch in the night.

 

5

You sweep them away; they are like a dream,

like grass that is renewed in the morning;

6

in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;

in the evening it fades and withers.

 

7

For we are consumed by your anger;

by your wrath we are overwhelmed.

8

You have set our iniquities before you,

our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

 

9

For all our days pass away under your wrath;

our years come to an end like a sigh.

10

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.

 

11

Who considers the power of your anger?

Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

12

So teach us to count our days

that we may gain a wise heart.

 


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Ps 90:1-17. Contrasting man's frailty with God's eternity, the writer mourns over it as the punishment of sin, and prays for a return of the divine favor. A Prayer [mainly such] of Moses the man of God—(De 33:1; Jos 14:6); as such he wrote this (see on Ps 18:1, title, and Ps 36:1, title).

1. dwelling-place—home (compare Eze 11:16), as a refuge (De 33:27).

2. brought forth [and] formed—both express the idea of production by birth.

3. to destruction—literally, "even to dust" (Ge 3:19), which is partly quoted in the last clause.

4. Even were our days now a thousand years, as Adam's, our life would be but a moment in God's sight (2Pe 3:8).

a watch—or, third part of a night (compare Ex 14:24).

5, 6. Life is like grass, which, though changing under the influence of the night's dew, and flourishing in the morning, is soon cut down and withereth (Ps 103:15; 1Pe 1:24).

7, 8. For—A reason, this is the infliction of God's wrath.

troubled—literally, "confounded by terror" (Ps 2:5). Death is by sin (Ro 5:12). Though "secret," the light of God's countenance, as a candle, will bring sin to view (Pr 20:27; 1Co 4:5).

9. are passed—literally, "turn," as to depart (Jer 6:4).

spend—literally, "consume."

as a tale—literally, "a thought," or, "a sigh" (Eze 2:10).

10. Moses' life was an exception (De 34:7).

it is … cut off—or, "driven," as is said of the quails in using the same word (Nu 11:31). In view of this certain and speedy end, life is full of sorrow.

11. The whole verse may be read as a question implying the negative, "No one knows what Thy anger can do, and what Thy wrath is, estimated by a true piety."

12. This he prays we may know or understand, so as properly to number or appreciate the shortness of our days, that we may be wise.




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