Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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).
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
2. brought forth [and] formed—both express the idea of production by birth.
Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
3. to destruction—literally, "even to dust" (Ge 3:19), which is partly quoted in the last clause.
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
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).
Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
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).
In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
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).
Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
9. are passed—literally, "turn," as to depart (Jer 6:4).
as a tale—literally, "a thought," or, "a sigh" (Eze 2:10).
The 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.
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.
Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
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."
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
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.
Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
13. (Compare Ps 13:2).
let it repent—a strong figure, as in Ex 32:12, imploring a change in His dealings.
O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
15. As have been our sorrows, so let our joys be great and long.
Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
16. thy work—or, providential acts.
thy glory—(Ps 8:5; 45:3), the honor accruing from Thy work of mercy to us.
And 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.
17. let the beauty—or sum of His gracious acts, in their harmony, be illustrated in us, and favor our enterprise.