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Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
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PSALM 90

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.

13. (Compare Ps 13:2).

let it repent—a strong figure, as in Ex 32:12, imploring a change in His dealings.

14. early—promptly.

15. As have been our sorrows, so let our joys be great and long.

16. thy work—or, providential acts.

thy glory—(Ps 8:5; 45:3), the honor accruing from Thy work of mercy to us.

17. let the beauty—or sum of His gracious acts, in their harmony, be illustrated in us, and favor our enterprise.

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