Psalm 90:2
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
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(2) Before the mountains.—Render either,

“Before the mountains were born,

Or ever the earth and world were brought forth,”

in synonymous parallelism, or, better, in progressive,

“Before the mountains were born,

Or ever the earth and world brought forth”—

i.e., before vegetation or life appeared. (Comp. Job 15:7.) “Mountains” are a frequent symbol of antiquity, as well as of enduring strength. (See Genesis 49:26; Proverbs 8:25.) The expression, “earth and the world,” may be taken as meaning the earth, as distinguished from either heaven or the sea, and the habitable globe (LXX., οἰκουμένη). (Comp. Proverbs 8:31.)

From everlasting to everlastingi.e., from an indefinite past to an indefinite future (literally, from hidden time to hidden).

Psalm 90:2. Before the mountains — The most fixed and stable parts of the earth; were brought forth — That is, arose out of the waters; or ever thou hadst formed the earth, &c. — That is, from eternity, which is frequently described in this manner; even from everlasting thou art God — Thou hadst thy power and thy perfections from all eternity. And this eternity of God is here mentioned for two reasons: 1st, That men, by the contemplation thereof, might be brought to a deeper sense of their own frailty, which is the foundation of humility and of all true piety; and to a greater reverence for, and admiration of, the Divine Majesty. And, 2d, For the comfort of God’s people, who, notwithstanding all their present miseries, have a sure and everlasting refuge and portion in him.90:1-6 It is supposed that this psalm refers to the sentence passed on Israel in the wilderness, Nu 14. The favour and protection of God are the only sure rest and comfort of the soul in this evil world. Christ Jesus is the refuge and dwelling-place to which we may repair. We are dying creatures, all our comforts in the world are dying comforts, but God is an ever-living God, and believers find him so. When God, by sickness, or other afflictions, turns men to destruction, he thereby calls men to return unto him to repent of their sins, and live a new life. A thousand years are nothing to God's eternity: between a minute and a million of years there is some proportion; between time and eternity there is none. All the events of a thousand years, whether past or to come, are more present to the Eternal Mind, than what was done in the last hour is to us. And in the resurrection, the body and soul shall both return and be united again. Time passes unobserved by us, as with men asleep; and when it is past, it is as nothing. It is a short and quickly-passing life, as the waters of a flood. Man does but flourish as the grass, which, when the winter of old age comes, will wither; but he may be mown down by disease or disaster.Before the mountains were brought forth - Before the earth brought forth or produced the mountains. In the description of the creation it would be natural to represent the mountains as the first objects that appeared, as emerging from the waters; and, therefore, as the "first" or "most ancient" of created objects. The phrase, therefore, is equivalent to saying, Before the earth was created. The literal meaning of the expression, "were brought forth," is, in the Hebrew, "were born." The mountains are mentioned as the most ancient things in creation, in Deuteronomy 33:15. Compare Genesis 49:26; Habakkuk 3:6.

Or ever thou hadst formed - literally, "hadst brought forth." Compare Job 39:1.

The earth and the world - The word "earth" here is used to denote the world as distinguished either from heaven Genesis 1:1, or from the sea Genesis 1:10. The term "world" in the original is commonly employed to denote the earth considered as "inhabited," or as capable of being inhabited - a dwelling place for living beings.

Even from everlasting to everlasting - From duration stretching backward without limit to duration stretching forward without limit; that is, from eternal ages to eternal ages; or, forever.

Thou art God - Or, "Thou, O God." The idea is, that he was always, and ever will be, God: the God; the true God; the only God; the unchangeable God. At any period in the past, during the existence of the earth, or the heavens, or before either was formed, he existed, with all the attributes essential to Deity; at any period in the future - during the existence of the earth and the heavens, or beyond - far as the mind can reach into the future, and even beyond that - he will still exist unchanged, with all the attributes of Deity. The creation of the universe made no change in him; its destruction would not vary the mode of his existence, or make him in any respect a different being. There could not be a more absolute and unambiguous declaration, as there could not be one more sublime, of the eternity of God. The mind cannot take in a grander thought than that there is one eternal and immutable Being.

2. brought forth [and] formed—both express the idea of production by birth. The mountains; which he mentions as the most fixed and stable part of the earth. Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, i.e. from eternity; which is frequently described in this manner, as Proverbs 8:25,26 Joh 17:24 Ephesians 1:4, because there was nothing before the creation of the world but eternity. And thus the words here following do explain it. And this eternity of God is here mentioned, partly that men by the contemplation thereof might be wrought to a deeper sense of their own frailty and nothingness, which is the foundation of humility and of all true piety, and to a greater reverence and admiration of the Divine Majesty; and partly for the comfort of God’s people, who notwithstanding all their present miseries have a sure and everlasting refuge and portion. Thou art God; or, thou art the strong God. Thou hast thy power and all thy perfections, not by degrees, as men have theirs, but from all eternity. Or, thou art or wast, O God. Before the mountains were brought forth,.... Or "were born" (b), and came forth out of the womb and bowels of the earth, and were made to rise and stand up at the command of God, as they did when he first created the earth; and are mentioned not only because of their firmness and stability, but their antiquity: hence we read of the ancient mountains and everlasting hills, Genesis 49:26, for they were before the flood, and as soon as the earth was; or otherwise the eternity of God would not be so fully expressed by this phrase as it is here, and elsewhere the eternity of Christ, Proverbs 8:25, or "ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world"; the whole terraqueous globe, and all the inhabitants of it; so the Targum; or "before the earth brought forth; or thou causedst it to bring forth" (c) its herbs, plants, and trees, as on the third day:

even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God; and so are his love, grace, and mercy towards his people, and his covenant with them; and this is as true of Jehovah the Son as of the Father, whose eternity is described in the same manner as his; see Proverbs 8:22, and may be concluded from his name, the everlasting Father; from his having the same nature and perfections with his Father; from his concern in eternal election, in the everlasting covenant of grace, and in the creation of all things; and his being the eternal and unchangeable I AM, yesterday, today, and for ever, is matter of comfort to his people.

(b) "nascerentur", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Michaelis; so Ainsworth; "geniti essent", Piscator, Gejerus. (c) "antequam parturiret terra", Syr. "aut peperisses terram", Piscator, Amama.

Before the {c} mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

(c) You have chosen us to be your people before the foundations of the world were laid.

2. the mountains] Named first because they were regarded as the most ancient parts of the earth. Cp. Deuteronomy 33:15; Proverbs 8:25; Habakkuk 3:6.

thou hadst formed] Lit. didst travail in birth with. The LXX and some other Ancient Versions, startled perhaps by the boldness of the metaphor, read the passive, and hence P.B.V., were made. For the metaphor of the birth of Creation cp. Job 38:8; Job 38:28-29; Genesis 2:4. The same words are used of Israel in Deuteronomy 32:18.

the world] The Heb. word tçbhçl denotes the fruitful, habitable part of the earth. Cp. Proverbs 8:31.

from everlasting to everlasting &c.] From eternity to eternity: from the infinite past (as men speak) into the infinite future, thou art El, the God of sovereign power. Cp. Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12. It is also possible to render, Even from everlasting to everlasting art thou, O God (cp. Psalm 93:2).Verse 2. - Before the mountains were brought forth (comp. Proverbs 8:25). The "mountains" are mentioned as perhaps the grandest, and certainly among the oldest, of all the works of God. Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world; literally, or thou gavest birth to the earth and the world (comp. Deuteronomy 32:18). Even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God (comp. Psalm 93:2; Proverbs 8:23; Micah 5:2; Habakkuk 1:12). After this statement of the present condition of things the psalmist begins to pray for the removal of all that is thus contradictory to the promise. The plaintive question, Psalm 89:47, with the exception of one word, is verbatim the same as Psalm 79:5. The wrath to which quousque refers, makes itself to be felt, as the intensifying (vid., Psalm 13:2) לנצח implies, in the intensity and duration of everlasting wrath. חלד is this temporal life which glides past secretly and unnoticed (Psalm 17:14); and זכר־אני is not equivalent to זכרני (instead of which by way of emphasis only זכרני אני can be said), but אני מה־חלד stands for מה־חלד אני - according to the sense equivalent to אני מה־חדל, Psalm 39:5, cf. Psalm 39:6. The conjecture of Houbigant and modern expositors, זכר אדני (cf. Psalm 89:51), is not needed, since the inverted position of the words is just the same as in Psalm 39:5. In Psalm 89:48 it is not pointed על־מה שׁוא, "wherefore (Job 10:2; Job 13:14) hast Thou in vain (Psalm 127:1) created?" (Hengstenberg), but על־מה־שּׁוא, on account of or for what a nothing (מה־שׁוא belonging together as adjective and substantive, as in Psalm 30:10; Job 26:14) hast Thou created all the children of men? (De Wette, Hupfeld, and Hitzig). על, of the ground of a matter and direct motive, which is better suited to the question in Psalm 89:49 than the other way of taking it: the life of all men passes on into death and Hades; why then might not God, within this brief space of time, this handbreadth, manifest Himself to His creatures as the merciful and kind, and not as the always angry God? The music strikes in here, and how can it do so otherwise than in elegiac mesto? If God's justice tarries and fails in this present world, then the Old Testament faith becomes sorely tempted and tried, because it is not able to find consolation in the life beyond. Thus it is with the faith of the poet in the present juncture of affairs, the outward appearance of which is in such perplexing contradiction to the loving-kindness sworn to David and also hitherto vouchsafed. חסדים has not the sense in this passage of the promises of favour, as in 2 Chronicles 6:42, but proofs of favour; הראשׁנים glances back at the long period of the reigns of David and of Solomon.

(Note: The Pasek between חראשׁנים and אדני is not designed merely to remove the limited predicate from the Lord, who is indeed the First and the Last, but also to secure its pronunciation to the guttural Aleph, which might be easily passed over after Mem; cf. Genesis 1:27; Genesis 21:17; Genesis 30:20; Genesis 42:21, and frequently.)

The Asaph Psalm 77 and the Tephilla Isaiah 63 contain similar complaints, just as in connection with Psalm 89:51 one is reminded of the Asaph Psalm 79:2, Psalm 79:10, and in connection with Psalm 89:52 of Psalm 79:12. The phrase נשׂא בחיקו is used in other instances of loving nurture, Numbers 11:12; Isaiah 40:11. In this passage it must have a sense akin to חרפּת עבדיך. It is impossible on syntactic grounds to regard כּל־רבּים עמּים as still dependent upon חרפּת (Ewald) or, as Hupfeld is fond of calling it, as a "post-liminiar" genitive. Can it be that the כל is perhaps a mutilation of כּלמּת, after Ezekiel 36:15, as Bttcher suggests? We do not need this conjecture. For (1) to carry any one in one's bosom, if he is an enemy, may signify: to be obliged to cherish him with the vexation proceeding from him (Jeremiah 15:15), without being able to get rid of him; (2) there is no doubt that רבּים can, after the manner of numerals, be placed before the substantive to which it belongs, Ezekiel 32:10, Proverbs 31:29; 1 Chronicles 28:5; Nehemiah 9:28; cf. the other position, e.g., Jeremiah 16:16; (3) consequently כּל־רבּים עמּים may signify the "totality of many peoples" just as well as כּל גּוים רבּים in Ezekiel 31:6. The poet complains as a member of the nation, as a citizen of the empire, that he is obliged to foster many nations in his bosom, inasmuch as the land of Israel was overwhelmed by the Egyptians and their allies, the Libyans, Troglodytes, and Ethiopians. The אשׁר which follows in Psalm 89:52 cannot now be referred back over Psalm 89:51 to חרפּת (quâ calumniâ), and yet the relative sense, not the confirmatory (because, quoniam), is at issue. We therefore refer it to עמים, and take אויביך as an apposition, as in Psalm 139:20 : who reproach Thee, (as) Thine enemies, Jahve, who reproach the footsteps (עקּבות as in Psalm 77:20 with Dag. dirimens, which gives it an emotional turn) of Thine anointed, i.e., they follow him everywhere, wheresoever he may go, and whatsoever he may do. With these significant words, עקּבות משׁיחך, the Third Book of the Psalms dies away.

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