Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

90. Psalm 90

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 2Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. 3Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. 4For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. 5Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. 6In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. 7For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. 8Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. 9For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. 10The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 11Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. 12So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. 13Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. 14O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. 16Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. 17And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

13. Return, O Jehovah! how long? After having spoken in the language of complaint, Moses adds a prayer, That God, who had not ceased for a long time severely to punish his people, would at length be inclined to deal gently with them. Although God daily gave them in many ways some taste of his love, yet their banishment from the land of promise was a very grievous affliction; for it admonished them that they were unworthy of that blessed inheritance which he had appointed for his children. They could not fail often to remember that dreadful oath which he had thundered out against them,

“Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness,”
(Numbers 14:23, 32.) 573573     “There is an ambiguity in כן, as it denotes either so or rightly Hence the interpretation is twofold; either ‘so make us to know that we may cause a heart of wisdom to come,’ i e., so instruct us that we may acquire a wise heart. Or, ‘teach us to number our days rightly,’ etc. LXX. give it another and distorted interpretation.” — Bythner

Moses, no doubt, combines that sore bondage which they had suffered in Egypt with their wanderings in the wilderness; and therefore he justly bewails their protracted languishing in the words how long? As God is said to turn his back upon us, or to depart to a distance from us, when he withdraws the tokens of his favor, so by his return we are to understand the manifestation of his grace. The word נחם, nacham, which we have translated be pacified, signifies to repent, and may therefore not improperly be explained thus: Let it repent thee concerning thy servants. According to the not unfrequent and well known phraseology of Scripture, God is said to repent, when putting away men’s sorrow, and affording new ground of gladness, he appears as it were to be changed. Those, however, seem to come nearer the mind of the Psalmist who translate, Comfort thyself over thy servants; for God, in cherishing us tenderly, takes no less pleasure in us than does a father in his own children. Now that is nothing else than to be pacified or propitious, as we have translated it, to make the meaning the more obvious.


VIEWNAME is study