A Reflection on Psalm 90

Psalm 90 – My Paraphrase

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth or you had formed the world and its habitation,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn mortals back to dust, saying,
“Return to dust, O children of humanity.”
4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just past,
or as a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep them away;
they are like sleep at the break of day –
they are like grass that springs up:
6 In the morning it sprouts and flourishes,
but by dusk it is dried up and cut down.
7 We are consumed by your anger and we tremble at your wrath.
8 You have set our sins before you, our secrets in the light of your face.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a sigh.

10 The span of our years is seventy, or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are wearisome and sorrowful,
for they quickly pass, and we fade away.
11 Who knows the strength of your anger,
or the exceeding dread of your wrath?
12 So teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Turn back, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants.
14 Fill us in the morning with your mercy,
so that we may shout aloud for joy and rejoice all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have experienced sorrow.
16 Let your work be seen by your servants,
and your splendor to their children.
17 May the delight of the Lord our God rest on us;
and establish for us the work of our hands –
yes, establish the work of our hands.


We are told that this is a psalm of Moses. In this beautiful poem Moses speaks not only of the brevity of human life, but also of the awesome might of God. One of the main points of this psalm is the relative impotence of humankind in the face of God’s power and strength. We are dependent upon God for our lives, and need to recognize our own mortality. In fact, nothing we do will last, unless God establishes it for us.

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