Psalm 90:9-10

9. For all our days are passed away in thy indignation: we have spent our years as it were a thought.1 10. In the days of our years there are threescore years and ten: and if through strength they are fourscore years, yet is their pride but labor and grief; for it2 swiftly passes by, and we fly away.


9. For all our days are passed away in thy indignation. This might be viewed as a general confirmation of the preceding sentence, That the whole course of man's life is suddenly brought to an end, as soon as God shows himself displeased. But in my opinion Moses rather amplifies what he has said above concerning the rigour of God's wrath, and his strict examination of every case in which he punishes sin. He asserts that this terror which God brought upon his people was not only for a short time, but that it was extended without intermission even to death. He complains that the Jews had almost wasted away by continual miseries; because God neither remitted nor mitigated his anger. It is therefore not surprising to find him declaring that their years passed away like a tale, when God's anger rested upon them so unremittingly.

10. In the days of our years there are threescore years and ten. He again returns to the general doctrine respecting the precariousness of the condition of men, although God may not openly display his wrath to terrify them. "What," says he, "is the duration of life? Truly, if we reckon all our years, we will at length come to threescore and ten, or, if there be some who are stronger and more vigorous, they will bring us even to fourscore." Moses uses the expression, the days of our years, for the sake of emphasis; for when the time is divided into small portions, the very number itself deceives us, so that we flatter ourselves that life is long. With the view of overthrowing these vain delusions, he permits men to sum up the many thousand days3 which are in a few years; while he at the same time affirms that this great heap is soon brought to nothing. Let men then extend the space of their life as much as they please, by calculating that each year contains three hundred and sixty-five days; yet assuredly they will find that the term of seventy years is short. When they have made a lengthened calculation of the days, this is the sum in which the process ultimately results. He who has reached the age of fourscore years hastens to the grave. Moses himself lived longer, (Deuteronomy 34:7,)4 and so perhaps did others in his time; but he speaks here of the ordinary term. And even then, those were accounted old men, and in a manner decrepit, who attained to the age of fourscore years; so that he justly declares that it is the robust only who arrive at that age. He puts pride for the strength or excellence of which men boast so highly. The sense is, that before men decline and come to old age, even in the very bloom of youth they are involved in many troubles, and that they cannot escape from the cares, weariness, sorrows, fears, griefs, inconveniences, and anxieties, to which this mortal life is subject. Moreover, this is to be referred to the whole course of our existence in the present state. And assuredly, he who considers what is the condition of our life from our infancy until we descend into the grave, will find troubles and turmoil in every part of it. The two Hebrew words lme, amal, and Nwa, aven, which are joined together, are taken passively for inconveniences and afflictions; implying that the life of man is full of labor, and fraught with many torments, and that even at the time when men are in the height of their pride. The reason which is added, for it swiftly passes by, and we fly away, seems hardly to suit the scope of the passage; for felicity may be brief, and yet on that account it does not cease to be felicity. But Moses means that men foolishly glory in their excellence, since, whether they will or no, they are constrained to look to the time to come. And as soon as they open their eyes, they see that they are dragged and carried forward to death with rapid haste, and that their excellence is every moment vanishing away.

1 Archbishop Secker supposes that this may be the reading, and refers to Job 20:11.

2 "Ou, une parolle." -- Fr. marg. "Or, a word." Dr Adam Clarke reads, "We consume our years like a groan;" and observes, "We live a dying, whining, complaining life; and at last a groan is its termination! How amazingly expressive!"

3 "Pource que nostre vie." -- Fr. "For our life."

4 In the Latin version it is, "multa annorum millia;" "many thousand years." But this is evidently a mistake, which the French version corrects, reading "beaucoup de milliers de jours."


Back to

These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.