Psalm 90:6
In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.In the morning it flourisheth - This does not mean that it grows with any special vigor or rapidity in the morning, as if that were illustrative of the rapid growth of the young; but merely that, in fact, in the morning it is green and vigorous, and is cut down in the short course of a day, or before evening. The reference here is to grass as an emblem of man.

And groweth up - The same word in the Hebrew which is used in the close of the previous verse.

In the evening it is cut down, and withereth - In the short period of a day. What was so green and flourishing in the morning, is, at the close of the day, dried up. Life has been arrested, and death, with its consequences, has ensued. So with man. How often is this literally true, that those who are strong, healthy, vigorous, hopeful, in the morning, are at night pale, cold, and speechless in death! How striking is this as an emblem of man in general: so soon cut down; so soon numbered with the dead. Compare the notes at Isaiah 40:6-8; notes at 1 Peter 1:24-25.

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). The whole space of man’s life is compared to one day, and his prosperity is confined to a part of that day, and ended in the close of it.

In the morning it flourisheth and groweth up,.... That is, the grass, through the dew that lay all night on it, and by the clear shining of the sun after rain, when it appears in great beauty and verdure; so man in the morning of his youth looks gay and beautiful, grows in the stature and strength of his body, and in the endowments of his mind; and it may be also in riches and wealth; it is well if he grows in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ:

in the evening it is cut down, and withereth; the Targum adds, "through heat"; but it cannot be by the heat of the sun, when it is cut down at evening; but it withers in course, being cut down. This respects the latter part of life, the evening of old age; and the whole expresses the shortness of life, which is compared to grass, that now is in all its beauty and glory, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, Matthew 6:30. This metaphor of grass, to set forth the frailty of man, and his short continuance, is frequently used; see Psalm 37:2, 1 Peter 1:24. It may be observed, that man's life is represented but as one day, consisting of a morning and an evening, which signifies the bloom and decline of life.

In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. it is cut down] Or, it fadeth. Cp. Psalm 37:2.

Verse 6. - In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withered (comp. Psalm 102:4, 11 103:15; Isaiah 40:7; James 1:10, 11). Psalm 90:6Psalm 90:5-6 tell us how great is the distance between men and this eternal selfsameness of God. The suffix of זרמתּם, referred to the thousand years, produces a synallage (since שׁנה is feminine), which is to be avoided whenever it is possible to do so; the reference to בני־אדם, as being the principal object pointed to in what has gone before, is the more natural, to say the very least. In connection with both ways of applying it, זרם does not signify: to cause to rattle down like sudden heavy showers of rain; for the figure that God makes years, or that He makes men (Hitzig: the germs of their coming into being), to rain down from above, is fanciful and strange. זרם may also mean to sweep or wash away as with heavy rains, abripere instar nimbi, as the old expositors take it. So too Luther at one time: Du reyssest sie dahyn (Thou carriest them away), for which he substituted later: Du lessest sie dahin faren wie einen Strom (Thou causest them to pass away as a river); but זרם always signifies rain pouring down from above. As a sudden and heavy shower of rain, becoming a flood, washes everything away, so God's omnipotence sweeps men away. There is now no transition to another alien figure when the poet continues: שׁנה יהיוּ. What is meant is the sleep of death, Psalm 76:6, שׁנת עולם, Jeremiah 51:39, Jeremiah 51:57, cf. ישׁן Psalm 13:4. He whom a flood carries away is actually brought into a state of unconsciousness, he goes entirely to sleep, i.e., he dies.

From this point the poet certainly does pass on to another figure. The one generation is carried away as by a flood in the night season, and in the morning another grows up. Men are the subject of יחלף, as of יהיוּ. The collective singular alternates with the plural, just as in Psalm 90:3 the collective אנושׁ alternates with בני־אדם. The two members of Psalm 90:5 stand in contrast. The poet describes the succession of the generations. One generation perishes as it were in a flood, and another grows up, and this also passes on to the same fate. The meaning in both verses of the חלף, which has been for the most part, after the lxx, Vulgate, and Luther, erroneously taken to be praeterire equals interire, is determined in accordance with this idea. The general signification of this verb, which corresponds to the Arabic chlf, is "to follow or move after, to go into the place of another, and in general, of passing over from one place or state into another." Accordingly the Hiphil signifies to put into a new condition, Psalm 102:27, to set a new thing on the place of an old one, Isaiah 9:9 [10], to gain new strength, to take fresh courage, Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41:1; and of plants: to send forth new shoots, Job 14:7; consequently the Kal, which frequently furnishes the perfect for the future Hiphil (Ew. 127, b, and Hitzig on this passage), of plants signifies: to gain new shoots, not: to sprout (Targum, Syriac), but to sprout again or afresh, regerminare; cf. Arab. chilf, an aftergrowth, new wood. Perishing humanity renews its youth in ever new generations. Psalm 90:6 again takes up this thought: in the morning it grows up and shoots afresh, viz., the grass to which men are likened (a figure appropriated by Isaiah 40), in the evening it is cut down and it dries up. Others translate מולל to wither (root מל, properly to be long and lax, to allow to hang down long, cf. אמלל, אמל with Arab. 'ml, to hope, i.e., to look forth into the distance); but (1) this Pilel of מוּל or Poēl of מלל is not favourable to this intransitive way of taking it; (2) the reflexive in Psalm 58:8 proves that מלל signifies to cut off in the front or above, after which perhaps even Psalm 37:2, Job 14:2; Job 18:16, by comparison with Job 24:24, are to be explained. In the last passage it runs: as the top of the stalk they are cut off (fut. Niph. of מלל). Such a cut or plucked ear of corn is called in Deuteronomy 23:25 מלילה, a Deuteronomic hapaxlegomenon which favours our way of taking the ימולל (with a most general subject equals ימולל). Thus, too, ויבשׁ is better attached to what precedes: the cut grass becomes parched hay. Just such an alternation of morning springing froth and evening drying up is the alternation of the generations of men.

The poet substantiates this in Psalm 90:7. from the experience of those amongst whom he comprehended himself in the לנוּ of Psalm 90:1, Hengstenberg takes Psalm 90:7 to be a statement of the cause of the transitoriness set forth: its cause is the wrath of God; but the poet does not begin כי באפך but כי כלינו. The chief emphasis therefore lies upon the perishing, and כי is not argumentative but explicative. If the subject of כלינוּ were men in general (Olshausen), then it would be elucidating idem per idem. But, according to Psalm 90:1, those who speak here are those whose refuge the Eternal One is. The poet therefore speaks in the name of the church, and confirms the lot of men from that which his people have experienced even down to the present time. Israel is able out of its own experience to corroborate what all men pass through; it has to pass through the very same experience as a special decree of God's wrath on account of its sins. Therefore in Psalm 90:7-8 we stand altogether upon historical ground. The testimony of the inscription is here verified in the contents of the Psalm. The older generation that came out of Egypt fell a prey to the sentence of punishment, that they should gradually die off during the forty years' journey through the desert; and even Moses and Aaron, Joshua and Caleb only excepted, were included in this punishment on special grounds, Numbers 14:26., Deuteronomy 1:34-39. This it is over which Moses here laments. God's wrath is here called אף and חמה; just as the Book of Deuteronomy (in distinction from the other books of the Pentateuch) is fond of combining these two synonyms (Deuteronomy 9:19; Deuteronomy 29:22, Deuteronomy 29:27, cf. Genesis 27:44.). The breaking forth of the infinitely great opposition of the holy nature of God against sin has swept away the church in the person of its members, even down to the present moment; נבהל as in Psalm 104:29, cf. בּחלה, Leviticus 26:16. It is the consequence of their sins. עון signifies sin as the perversion of the right standing and conduct; עלוּם, that which is veiled in distinction from manifest sins, is the sum-total of hidden moral, and that sinful, conduct. There is no necessity to regard עלמנוּ as a defective plural; עלמים signifies youth (from a radically distinct word, עלם); secret sins would therefore be called עלמות according to Psalm 19:13. God sets transgressions before Him when, because the measure is full and forgiveness is inadmissible, He makes them an object of punishment. שׁתּ (Ker, as in Psalm 8:7 : שׁתּה, cf. Psalm 6:4 ואתּ, Psalm 74:6 ועתּ) has the accent upon the ultima before an initial guttural. The parallel to לנגדּך is למאור פּניך. עור is light, and מאור is either a body of light, as the sun and moon, or, as in this passage, the circle of light which the light forms. The countenance of God (פני ה) is God's nature in its inclination towards the world, and מאור פני ה is the doxa of His nature that is turned towards the world, which penetrates everything that is conformed to God as a gracious light (Numbers 6:25), and makes manifest to the bottom everything that is opposed to God and consumes it as a wrathful fire.

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