God’s Eternity and Man’s Transitoriness.
A Prayer of Moses the man of God.
90 Lord, You have been our dwelling place [our refuge, our sanctuary, our stability] in all generations.
Before the mountains were born
Or before You had given birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are [the eternal] God.
You turn man back to dust,
And say, “Return [to the earth], O children of [mortal] men!”
For a [a]thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
Or as a watch in the night.(A)
You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep [forgotten as soon as they are gone];
In the morning they are like grass which grows anew—
In the morning it flourishes and springs up;
In the evening it wilts and withers away.
For we have been consumed by Your anger
And by Your wrath we have been terrified.
You have placed our wickedness before you,
Our secret sins [which we tried to conceal, You have placed] in the [revealing] light of Your presence.
For all our days pass away in Your wrath;
We have finished our years like a whispered sigh.(B)
The days of our life are [b]seventy years—
Or even, if because of strength, eighty years;
Yet their pride [in additional years] is only labor and sorrow,
For it is soon gone and we fly away.
Who understands the power of Your anger? [Who connects this brevity of life among us with Your judgment of sin?]
And Your wrath, [who connects it] with the [reverent] fear that is due You?
So teach us to number our days,
That we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom.
Turn, O Lord [from Your fierce anger]; how long will it be?
Be compassionate toward Your servants—revoke Your sentence.
O satisfy us with Your lovingkindness in the morning [now, before we grow older],
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad in proportion to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have suffered evil.
Let Your work [the signs of Your power] be revealed to Your servants
And Your [glorious] majesty to their children.
And let the [gracious] favor of the Lord our God be on us;
Confirm for us the work of our hands—
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.
- Psalm 90:4 This was understood by the ancient rabbis to mean that a “thousand years” are literally only one day in God’s reckoning, and Peter seems to confirm the idea in 2 Pet 3:8.
- Psalm 90:10 This psalm is credited to Moses, who is interceding with God to remove the curse which made it necessary for every Israelite over twenty years of age (when they rebelled against God at Kadesh-barnea) to die before reaching the promised land of Canaan (Num 14:26-35). Moses himself lived to be 120 years old, Aaron 123, Miriam several years older, and Joshua 110 years of age; but it is conceivable that Moses considered such longevity the exception. The ancient rabbis taught that by the time of David, 70 was the age of death for an old man and 80 for a vigorous old man.
New International Version
A prayer of Moses the man of God.
3 You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”(E)
4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.(F)
5 Yet you sweep people away(G) in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.(H)
7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins(I) in the light of your presence.(J)
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.(K)
10 Our days may come to seventy years,(L)
or eighty,(M) if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,(N)
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.(O)
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath(P) is as great as the fear that is your due.(Q)
12 Teach us to number our days,(R)
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.(S)
13 Relent, Lord! How long(T) will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.(U)
14 Satisfy(V) us in the morning with your unfailing love,(W)
that we may sing for joy(X) and be glad all our days.(Y)
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.(Z)
- Psalm 90:17 Or beauty