Psalm 90:8
Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBTODWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Our secret sins.—Or, to keep the singular of the original, our secret (character).

The expression, “light of God’s countenance,” usually means “favour.” But here the word rendered light is not the usual one employed in that expression, but rather means a body of light: “the sun (or eye) of Thy countenance.” Comp.:

“Then Seeva opened on the accursed one

His eye of anger.”

SOUTHEY: Curse of Kehama,

90:7-11 The afflictions of the saints often come from God's love; but the rebukes of sinners, and of believers for their sins, must be seen coming from the displeasure of God. Secret sins are known to God, and shall be reckoned for. See the folly of those who go about to cover their sins, for they cannot do so. Our years, when gone, can no more be recalled than the words that we have spoken. Our whole life is toilsome and troublesome; and perhaps, in the midst of the years we count upon, it is cut off. We are taught by all this to stand in awe. The angels that sinned know the power of God's anger; sinners in hell know it; but which of us can fully describe it? Few seriously consider it as they ought. Those who make a mock at sin, and make light of Christ, surely do not know the power of God's anger. Who among us can dwell with that devouring fire?Thou hast set our iniquities before thee - Thou hast arrayed them, or brought them forth to view, as a "reason" in thy mind for cutting us down. Death may be regarded as proof that God has brought before his mind the evidence of man's guilt, and has passed sentence accordingly. The fact of death at all; the fact that anyone of the race dies; the fact that human life has been made so brief, is to be explained on the supposition that God has arrayed before his own mind the reality of human depravity, and has adopted this as an illustration of his sense of the evil of guilt.

Our secret sins - literally, "our secret;" or, that which was concealed or unknown. This may refer to the secret or hidden things of our lives, or to what has been concealed in our own bosoms; and the meaning may be, that God has judged in the case not by external appearances, or by what is seen by the world, but by what "he" has seen in the heart, and that he deals with us according to our real character. The reference is, indeed, to sin, but sin as concealed, hidden, forgotten; the sin of the heart; the sin which we have endeavored to hide from the world; the sin which has passed away from our own recollection.

In the light of thy countenance - Directly before thee; in full view; so that thou canst see them all. In accordance with these, thou judgest man, and hence, his death.

7, 8. For—A reason, this is the infliction of God's wrath.

troubled—literally, "confounded by terror" (Ps 2:5). Death is by sin (Ro 5:12). Though "secret," the light of God's countenance, as a candle, will bring sin to view (Pr 20:27; 1Co 4:5).

Thou dost not now cover, or blot out, or pass by our sins, as thou hast usually done to thy people; but thou dost diligently search them out, and accurately observe them, as a severe but righteous Judge, and art now calling us to an account for them.

Our secret sins thou dost not only punish us for our notorious and scandalous sins, which thine honour may seem to oblige thee to do, but even for our secret lusts, the murmuring, and unbelief, and apostacy, and idolatry of our hearts; which though hid from the eyes of men, thou hast set before thine eyes, and brought them to light by thy judgments.

Thou hast set our sins before thee,.... The cause of all trouble, consumption, and death; these are before the Lord, as the evidence, according to which he as a righteous Judge proceeds; this is opposed to the pardon of sin, which is expressed by a casting it behind his back, Isaiah 38:17,

our secret sins in the light of thy countenance; the Targum and Jarchi interpret it of the sins of youth; the word is in the singular number, and may be rendered, "our secret sin" (f); which has led some to think of original sin, which is hidden from, and not taken notice of by, the greatest part of the world, though it is the source and spring of all sin. It is not unusual for the singular to be put for the plural, and may intend all such sins as are secretly committed, and not known by other men, and such as are unobserved by men themselves; as the evil thoughts of their hearts, the foolish words of their mouths, and many infirmities of life, that are not taken notice of as sins: these are all known to God, and will be brought to light and into judgment by him, and will be set in "the light of his countenance"; which denotes not a gracious forgiveness of them, but his clear and distinct knowledge of them, and what a full evidence they give against men, to their condemnation and death; and intends not only a future, but the present view the Lord has of them, and his dealings with men in life, and at death, according to them.

(f) "mostrum absconditum", Montanus; "sive occultum", Vatablus, Muis, Michaelis.

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. Instead of ‘hiding His face’ from their sins He sets them all before Him, and drags them all to light. Elsewhere ‘the light of God’s countenance’ denotes His favour; here a slightly different word, lit. the luminary of Thy face, is used to denote His Presence as a searching light from which nothing can be hid. Our secret [sin] is rather the inward sin of the heart unseen by man but known to God (Psalm 44:21, a cognate word), than sin of which the sinner is himself unconscious (Psalm 19:12), though this may be included.

Verse 8. - Thou hast set our iniquities before thee. Instead of hiding his face from their iniquities, turning away from them and overlooking them, God has placed them steadily "before him," in the full searching and scorching light of his own purity and holiness. And not only has he done this with the sins which they know of, and whereof their consciences are afraid; but he has set their secret sins also in the light of his countenance. (On man's "secret sins," comp. Psalm 19:12, and the comment ad loc.) Psalm 90:8Psalm 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.

Links
Psalm 90:8 Interlinear
Psalm 90:8 Parallel Texts


Psalm 90:8 NIV
Psalm 90:8 NLT
Psalm 90:8 ESV
Psalm 90:8 NASB
Psalm 90:8 KJV

Psalm 90:8 Bible Apps
Psalm 90:8 Parallel
Psalm 90:8 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 90:8 Chinese Bible
Psalm 90:8 French Bible
Psalm 90:8 German Bible

Bible Hub








Psalm 90:7
Top of Page
Top of Page