We cannot be at a loss to form a proper idea of the antiquity of this Psalm; for the title shows that Moses was the penman of it. Perhaps it was written at the time when the Lord determined, for Israel's unbelief, that the carcasses of that generation should die in the wilderness, as related in Nu 14. It is called a prayer, and in it the Man of God strikingly sets forth the frailty of man, and his transitory state, compared to the eternity of God.
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
With what a vast source of consolation doth the Psalmist introduce his subject, in contemplating the Lord as the refuge of his people! He doth not say what the Lord hath provided in comforts, amidst the dying circumstances of the world, in which the believer shall find relief; but that the Lord himself is the refuge, the hiding place, the portion of the soul. Reader, I pray you read those sweet scriptures, Isaiah 28:12; Psalms 32:7.
Nothing within the compass of words can more strongly define the vast and immeasurable distance between the eternity of Jehovah and the vapourish life of man, than what these few verses express. The eternal and unchangeable existence of the Lord, how finely marked, from everlasting to everlasting; and with whom a thousand years, or a day, are the same. Reader, do not overlook the blessed truth contained in this view, at the same time, respecting the eternity of that salvation which is founded alone in Jesus. He that sitteth upon the throne, and createth all things new, is himself eternally and unchangeably the same in person, and in the efficacy of his redemption, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Revelation 21:5; Hebrews 13:8.
Here are several beautiful figures, illustrative of man's short and transitory state of existence: first, as a flood, whose tide never stops a moment from flowing, but sweeps everything before it: next, as a sleep, during which the man is unconscious of what passeth; for such is life, a dream, a fancy, an illusion: next, as grass, which, as the Psalmist saith elsewhere, withereth before it be fully grown up: next, as a tale that is told, meaning a mere voice, a breath, which, though heard, is not seen, and passeth away, even in the moment of its existence. Reader, pause, and contemplate the humbling truth. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass. Oh! what a relief did this voice give, when it added, That the word of our God shall stand forever! Isaiah 40:6-8. Oh, thou uncreated Word! Thou didst con descend to be made flesh, and didst dwell among us: Thou didst take our nature, to make us partakers of thine! Hail, thou gracious, holy, blessed Redeemer!
These verses contain the sanctified use of the foregoing meditations. If such be the transitory state of man upon earth, Lord cause thy people to improve these appointments of thine, to thy glory, and their welfare. Are our days short? Oh, make them gracious. Are they vain and unsatisfying? Oh, direct us to Jesus, who will cause them that love him to inherit substance. Are they full of sin and infirmities? Oh, let the consciousness of these things endear Jesus in his blood and righteousness: and let all the events of a short, unsatisfying, sinful life, make us long for the work of salvation, and the beauty of our Lord God to be upon us. Lord, work in us, and upon us, both to will and to do of thy good pleasure. Philippians 2:13.
READER, have you ever contemplated, in the point of view this blessed Psalm represents it, the dying circumstances of a perishing world? There is nothing which, under grace, can more effectually tend to give a right and proper estimate of human life. In every state, in everything, the funeral proclamation is momentarily making: Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. From a conviction of this unquestionable truth, the inquiry arises what will be the best preparation for it; and, since there can be no exemption, how shall you or I be suitably and properly affected towards it? This Psalm opens with an answer the most satisfactory. The Lord is the only dwelling place in all generations. The Rock of Ages is the only habitation. If God, in Christ, be the dwelling place of the believer, here the soul resides secure amidst all the dying and the dead circumstances of a convulsed, tottering, crumbling, and departing world. Reader, what say you to this security? Are you living upon a faithful, unchangeable covenant-God in Christ? Have you taken shelter in Jesus, as a hiding place from the storm, a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land? Oh, what an everlasting security is here! Because I live, saith Jesus, ye shall live also. Fear not, said he, to the dying Patriarch, fear not to go down into Egypt, I will go with thee. And when you and I can say, as the Patriarch did, I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord: then may we add, This God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide unto death!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 90". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29