|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
90:12-17 Those who would learn true wisdom, must pray for Divine instruction, must beg to be taught by the Holy Spirit; and for comfort and joy in the returns of God's favour. They pray for the mercy of God, for they pretend not to plead any merit of their own. His favour would be a full fountain of future joys. It would be a sufficient balance to former griefs. Let the grace of God in us produce the light of good works. And let Divine consolations put gladness into our hearts, and a lustre upon our countenances. The work of our hands, establish thou it; and, in order to that, establish us in it. Instead of wasting our precious, fleeting days in pursuing fancies, which leave the possessors for ever poor, let us seek the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance in heaven. Let us pray that the work of the Holy Spirit may appear in converting our hearts, and that the beauty of holiness may be seen in our conduct.
Verse 13. - Return, O Lord, how long? rather, turn, O Lord; i.e. "turn from thy anger - how long will it be ere thou turnest?" And let it repent thee concerning thy servants. God "is not a man, that he should repent" (Numbers 23:19); and yet from time to time "it repents him concerning his servants" (Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 135:14). He relents, that is, from his fierce anger, allows himself to be appeased, and has compassion upon those who have provoked him.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Return, O Lord,.... Either from the fierceness of thine anger, according to Aben Ezra and Jarchi; of which complaint is made, Psalm 90:7, or unto us, from whom he had departed; for though God is everywhere, as to his being and immensity, yet, as to his gracious presence, he is not; and where that is, he sometimes withdraws it; and when he visits again with it, be may be said to return; and when he returns, he visits with it, and which is here prayed for; and designs a manifestation of himself, of his love and grace, and particularly his pardoning mercy; see Psalm 80:14.
how long? this is a short abrupt way of speaking, in which something is understood, which the affection of the speaker would not admit him to deliver; and may be supplied, either thus,
how long wilt thou be angry? God is sometimes angry with his people, which, when they are sensible of, gives them a pain and uneasiness they are not able to bear; and though it endures but for a moment, yet they think it a long time; see Psalm 30:5. Arama interprets it,
"how long ere the time of the Messiah shall come?''
or "how long wilt thou hide thyself?" when he does this, they are troubled; and though it is but for a small moment he forsakes them, yet they count it long, and as if it was for ever; see Psalm 13:1, or "how long wilt thou afflict us?" as the Targum; afflictions come from the Lord, and sometimes continue long; at least they are thought so by the afflicted, who are ready to fear God has forgotten them and their afflictions, Psalm 44:23, or "how long wilt thou defer help?" the Lord helps, and that right early, at the most seasonable time, and when difficulties, are the greatest; but it sometimes seems long first; see Psalm 6:3,
and let it repent thee concerning thy servants; men are all so, of right, by creation, and through the benefits of Providence; and many, in fact, being made willing servants by the grace of God; and this carries in it an argument for the petition: repentance does not properly belong to God; it is denied of him, Numbers 23:19, yet it is sometimes ascribed to him, both with respect to the good he has done, or promised, and with respect to the evil he has brought on men, or threatened to bring; see Genesis 6:6, and in the latter sense it is to be understood here; and intends not any change of mind or will in God, which cannot be; but a change of his dispensations, with respect to desertion, affliction, and the like; which the Targum expresses thus,
"and turn from the evil thou hast said thou wilt do to thy servants:''
if this respects the Israelites in the wilderness, and their exclusion from Canaan, God never repented of what he threatened; he swore they should not enter it, and they did not, only their children, excepting two persons: some render the words, "comfort thy servants" (f); with thy presence, the discoveries of thy love, especially pardoning grace, and by removing afflictions, or supporting under them.
(f) "consolare", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
90:13 Return - To us in mercy. How long - Will it be before thou return to us? Repent thee - Of thy severe proceedings against us.
Psalm 90:13 Parallel Commentaries
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