Psalm 90

The Word Made Fresh

(Book 4: Psalms 90-106)

Psalm 90
(A prayer of Moses, the man of God.)

1LORD, you have been our home for generations.
2Before the mountains were formed,
even before the earth and the whole world,
you are God from its beginning to its end.
3We came from dust and will return to dust,
for that is what you have decreed.
4A thousand years to you are no more than a day.
It passes like it was yesterday.
5You sweep us away as if we were no more than a dream,
like grass that sprouts in the morning –
6it sprouts green in the morning,
but in the evening, it withers and fades away.
7Your anger eats away at us
until we are consumed by it.
8You have laid our sins out before you
and even our secrets are lit up in the light of your presence.
9Our days pass before your scrutiny
and our years end with a whimper.
10We are given life for seventy years,
or perhaps eighty if we are strong,
but even then, they are toiled and troubled
and soon gone. We simply fly away.
11Who can understand the power of your anger?
It is as great as the fear we have before you.
12Teach us to take our days into account
so that we may have hearts of wisdom.
13Turn back, LORD! How long must this go on?
Have compassion on us – we are your servants!
14Give us evidence of your unfailing love when we arise every morning
so that we can be glad and joyful all day long.
15Make us joyful for as many days as you have saddened us –
for as many years as we have suffered.
16Give us evidence of your great works,
and let our children be empowered by your presence.
17Let us live in your favor,
and let our labors be prosperous.
Oh, let our labors be prosperous!


Superscription: this is the only psalm that is ascribed to Moses, and scholars think it is significant that this psalm should begin the 4th collection or book within the book of Psalms. The 3rd collection was somewhat fixated on the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile and ended with God’s rejection of the covenant with David. The 4th collection thus begins by returning the reader to the time of Moses when there was no temple or Mt. Zion or Jerusalem or a national identity, and the reader, perhaps sitting in Babylon, is reminded that a relationship with God can be possible without any of those things.

1-6: The psalm begins with a comparison between God’s eternal sovereignty over creation and the fleeting existence of people.

7-10: The swift passage of years and the shortness of human life are lamented.

11-12: But God is not questioned. We fear God, but that is as it should be. We should acknowledge that we will not live forever, and such knowledge should result in our living more wisely.

13-17: Now the psalm turns to the plea that was missing in Psalm 89 and begs God to relent and to pour divine favor upon them once again.


Because of God’s steadfast love there is, and there always will be, hope for the future.