The Fourth Book of the Psalms
Psalms 90 – 106
Psalms 90 – 106
The Fourth Book of the Psalms (90 – 106). From a prophetic standpoint, the fourth book of the Psalms focuses on the appearing of Christ in answer to the cry of the faithful Jewish remnant. The coming of Christ to reign is mentioned in almost every Psalm in this book: Psa. 90:13; 93:1; 96:10,13; 97:1; 98:9; 99:1; 103:19; 104:31; 105:7.1 The expression “Jehovah reigneth” is like chorus, repeated over and over. The third book is the saddest book of the Psalms, and the fourth book is much happier. The fifth book is happier still! The fourth book of Psalms corresponds with the fourth book of the Pentateuch, Numbers; i.e. the wilderness experience. There are numerous references to Israel’s wilderness journey in the fourth book, and this correlates prophetically to Israel’s long journey to restoration. Read more…
A Prayer for God to Answer Israel’s Years of Suffering with Blessing
A Prayer for God to Answer Israel’s Years of Suffering with Blessing
Psalm 90. The inscription identifies this Psalm as “A Prayer of Moses, the man of God”. The following Psalm is an orphan Psalm, which means it most likely was also written by Moses. This would make Psalm 90 and 91 likely the oldest Psalms in the collection! The historical context of the Psalm is probably in the wilderness with the children of Israel, as the older generation was dying off because of Israel’s sin of unbelief; “And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them” (Deut. 2:14). Moses reflects on the brevity of human life (the reduced span of 70-80 years) in comparison with the eternity of God. As a spokesman for Israel, Moses cries out to the Lord “How long?” and asks for a deliverance equal to their suffering under Jehovah’s anger. Prophetically, this Psalm is part of an introduction (Psa. 90-92) that leads up to the appearance of Christ.2 It describes the state of the nation of Israel as consumed under the judgment of God. This could place this Psalm prophetically in the aftermath of the consumption; i.e. after first attack of the king of the north, but before the Lord appears. However, this Psalm could also apply earlier in the prophetic week as well, as a general theme.
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
1 Lord, “thou” hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.
v.1 Adonai Israel’s Dwelling-Place. The remnant can reflect that the Lord (Adonai) has been Israel’s “dwelling-place in all generations”. This is an amazing confession. It isn’t Canaan but the Lord Himself that has always been the security of Israel. This fits with the historical context of the Psalm; Israel in the wilderness.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, and thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from eternity to eternity thou art GOD.
3 Thou makest mortal man [‘enosh’] to return to dust, and sayest, Return, children of men [‘adam’].
4 For a thousand years, in thy sight, are as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
5 Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass that groweth up:
6 In the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down and withereth.
vv.2-6 The Eternity of God (‘El’), In Comparison to Man. How wonderful that the One who is Israel’s resource it eternal (v.2)! The remnant then consider the frailty of man in light of the eternity of God. God’s existence predates the creation, which He made; “Before the mountains were brought forth, and thou hadst formed the earth and the world”. His being is outside of time; “from eternity to eternity thou art God”. By contrast man is mortal, returning to the dust from which he came, at the mere command of God; “Return, children of men”. The remnant say “Return” as well, in v.13. They reflect that God’s perspective of time and ours are very differing; “For a thousand years, in thy sight, are as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night, etc.” Peter alludes to this in His second epistle (2 Peter 3:8) to encourage the saints that God is not slack concerning His promise to return. Things that seem permanent institutions can be wiped away in an instant, as “as a flood” or as waking from “a sleep”. Natural man is as temporal a creature as a flower that grows one morning and is cut down in the evening.
7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy fury are we troubled.
8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
9 For all our days pass away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a passing thought.
10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if, by reason of strength, they be fourscore years, yet their pride is labour and vanity, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? and thy wrath according to the fear of thee?
12 So teach us to number our days, that we may acquire a wise heart.
vv.7-12 The Brevity of Life Under God’s Government. The remnant continue to speak of the brevity of human life, but now especially under the government of God. Moses would have looked around (Deut. 2:14) to see the bodies falling everywhere as a result of Israel’s unbelief. Likewise, the faithful remnant in a future day will see many of their number dying, and this Psalm will suit their prayers at that time. They speak of the shortened lifespan of mankind; “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if, by reason of strength, they be fourscore years, yet their pride is labour and vanity, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away”. Before the flood, humans are recorded as living over 900 years. William Kelly remarked that, after all “man was made to live, not to die”.3 Moses gives the post-diluvian lifespan in general terms as 70 to 80 years. Further, we find that in the Millennium (1000 years), when the curse is remove, the antediluvian lifespan will be restored. If people do not sin openly, they will not die (Isa. 65:20). A sinner who dies at 100 years old will still look physically like “a youth” (Isa. 65:20). It was only through man’s sin that the lifespan was reduced. The reduction seems to have taken effect around the time of the flood, or shortly thereafter. There is an allusion to the separation of body and soul; “for it [the body] is soon cut off, and we [the soul] fly away”. Prophetically is speaks of Israel, and the many slain under the judgment of God. They recognize that the many slain are falling because of Israel’s sins; “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” The remnant is identifying itself with the nation, taking the place of a “man of God”, the faithful carrying on for God in a time of ruin (see title). The faithful cannot question God’s ways in judgment, which are beyond the grasp of frail man; “Who knoweth the power of thine anger? and thy wrath according to the fear of thee?” There is a very practical lesson in v.12; “So teach us to number our days, that we may acquire a wise heart.” Our days on earth are numbered, so what will we do with our time? Is there a better way to live than spending our short life as a passing thought? Is there more value in life than to have all our labor result in vanity? The prayer is that we would not waste our time by applying our hearts unto folly, but rather to wisdom, which is found in the presence and Word of God. Our years should be lived out in “days”, living each one for the Lord rather than self (Gen. 47:9).
13 Return, Jehovah: how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
14 Satisfy us early with thy loving-kindness; that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, according to the years wherein we have seen evil.
16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy majesty unto their sons.
17 And let the beauty of Jehovah our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us: yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it.
vv.13-17 Calling on Jehovah to Return, and Bless Israel. This “return” refers to the blessing of Israel, which has been long absent. The remnant call out to Jehovah for governmental forgiveness, and that He would show them loving-kindness. They long for joy and gladness commensurate with the days of their affliction. The ask for the Jehovah to bless them with His beauty, and with His strength. Prophetically, this prayer will be answered when Christ appears and restores Israel to a place of blessing.
- Anstey, B. Prophetic Outline of the Psalms. Vancouver, BC, Canada. 1988. p.87.
- Psalm 90, Psalm 91, and Psalm 92 go together as an introduction to the great theme that follows, Jehovah reigns. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- Kelly, William. In the Beginning. New Edition, Revised 1894.