|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
90:1-6 It is supposed that this psalm refers to the sentence passed on Israel in the wilderness, Nu 14. The favour and protection of God are the only sure rest and comfort of the soul in this evil world. Christ Jesus is the refuge and dwelling-place to which we may repair. We are dying creatures, all our comforts in the world are dying comforts, but God is an ever-living God, and believers find him so. When God, by sickness, or other afflictions, turns men to destruction, he thereby calls men to return unto him to repent of their sins, and live a new life. A thousand years are nothing to God's eternity: between a minute and a million of years there is some proportion; between time and eternity there is none. All the events of a thousand years, whether past or to come, are more present to the Eternal Mind, than what was done in the last hour is to us. And in the resurrection, the body and soul shall both return and be united again. Time passes unobserved by us, as with men asleep; and when it is past, it is as nothing. It is a short and quickly-passing life, as the waters of a flood. Man does but flourish as the grass, which, when the winter of old age comes, will wither; but he may be mown down by disease or disaster.
Verse 5 - Thou carriest them away as with a flood. This verse is to be connected with ver. 3, "Thou sweepest mankind away;" i.e. removest them from the earth, when it pleases thee. They are as a sleep. Fantastic, vague, forgotten as soon as it is over. In the morning they are like grass which groweth up (comp. Psalm 37:2; Psalm 72:16; Psalm 92:7; Psalm 103:15; Isaiah 40:7).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou carriest them away as with a flood,.... As the whole world of the ungodly were with the deluge, to which perhaps the allusion is; the phrase is expressive of death; so the Targum,
"if they are not converted, thou wilt bring death upon them;''
the swiftness of time is aptly signified by the flowing gliding stream of a flood, by the rolling billows and waves of it; so one hour, one day, one month, one year, roll on after another: moreover, the suddenness of death may be here intended, which comes in an hour unlooked for, and unaware of, as a flood comes suddenly, occasioned by hasty showers of rain; as also the irresistible force and power of it, which none can withstand; of which the rapidity of a flood is a lively emblem, and which carries all before it, and sweeps away everything that stands in its course; as death, by an epidemic and infectious disease, or in a battle, carries off thousands and ten thousands in a very little time; nor does it spare any, as a flood does not, of any age or sex, of any rank or condition of life; and, like a flood, makes sad destruction and devastation where it comes, and especially where it takes off great numbers; it not only turns beauty to ashes, and strength into weakness and corruption, but depopulates towns, and cities, and kingdoms; and as the flowing flood and gliding stream can never be fetched back again, so neither can life when past, not one moment of time when gone; see 2 Samuel 14:14, besides this phrase may denote the turbulent and tempestuous manner in which, sometimes, wicked men go out of the world, a storm being within and without, as in Job 27:20, "they are as a sleep"; or dream, which soon passeth away; in a sound sleep, time is insensibly gone; and a dream, before it can be well known what it is, is over and lost in oblivion; and so short is human life, Job 20:8 there may be, sometimes, a seeming pleasure enjoyed, as in dreams, but no satisfaction; as a man in sleep may dream that he is eating and drinking, and please himself with it; but, when he awakes, he is hungry and empty, and unsatisfied; and so is man with everything in this life, Isaiah 29:8, and all things in life are a mere dream, as the honours, riches, and pleasures of it; a man rather dreams of honour, substance, and pleasure, than really enjoys them. Wicked men, while they live, are "as those that sleep"; as the Targum renders it; they have no spiritual senses, cannot see, hear, smell, taste, nor feel; they are without strength to everything that is spiritually good; inactive, and do none; are subject to illusions and mistakes; are in imminent danger, and unconcerned about it; and do not care to be jogged or awaked, and sleep on till they sleep the sleep of death, unless awaked by powerful and efficacious grace; and men when dead are asleep, not in their souls, but in their bodies; death is often in Scripture signified by a sleep, under which men continue until the resurrection, which is an awaking out of it:
in the morning they are like grass, which groweth up or "passeth away", or "changeth" (d); or is changed; some understand this of the morning of the resurrection, when there will be a change for the better, a renovation, as Kimchi interprets the word; and which, from the use of it in the Arabic language, as Schultens observes (e), signifies to be green and flourishing, as grass in the morning is; and so intends a recovery of rigour and strength, as a man after sleep, and as the saints will have when raised from the dead. The Targum refers it to the world to come,
"and in the world to come, as grass is cut down, they shall be changed or renewed;''
but it is rather to be understood of the flourishing of men in the morning of youth, as the next verse shows, where it is repeated, and where the change of grass is beautifully illustrated and explained.
(d) "quae mutatur", Pagninus; "mutabitur", Montanus; "immutatur", Tigurine version; "transiens", Junius & Tremellius; "quae transit", Musculus, Gejerus, Michaelis. (e) Animadv. in Job, p. 34.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5, 6. Life is like grass, which, though changing under the influence of the night's dew, and flourishing in the morning, is soon cut down and withereth (Ps 103:15; 1Pe 1:24).
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