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Bible Commentaries

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Psalms 90

 

 

Introduction

Psa 90:
THE FOURTH, OR NUMBERS BOOK.

NUMBERS is the name that man has given to the fourth hook of the Pentateuch, on account of the numberings recorded in chapters 13 and 26. The name is from the Latin Vulgate (Numeri), which is again a translation of the name given by the Septuagint Translators (Arithmoi).

The title in the Hebrew Canon is bemidbar, " IN THE WILDERNESS " (the fifth word in
Psalms 90:1, Hebrew). This title covers all the events recorded in this book. " Numbers ", therefore, is the Book of the WILDERNESS and its types are wilderness types, or types of our pilgrimage.

In the Numbers-Book of the Psalms we find the corresponding subject. It opens with Psalm 90, " A prayer of Moses" the man of the wilderness! Its teaching, like that of the other books, is Dispensational, with the EARTH as its central thought. God""s counsels and purposes are celebrated with regard to the earth, and the nations of the earth, from the ruin to the glory; as we have seen them set forth in the other books with regard to (1) Man, (2) Israel, and (3) the Sanctuary.

Sin has come into the world, and ruined, not merely man, but the earth itself:"Cursed is the ground for thy sake." Sin has made the paradise of God a wilderness, and death has filled it with sorrow and sadness. There is no hope for the earth, no hope for the nations of the earth, and no hope for creation, apart from Jehovah. The first and second Psalms (90 and 91) set this forth, and give, as it were, the key-note and epitome of the whole book. Its figures are from this wilderness-world; as mountains, hills, floods, grass, pestilence, trees, &c, which the reader will notice for himself. Happiness for the world will be found only when He, " Whose right it is ", shall come again to reign and "judge the world in righteousness". In Christ, the coming King, not only Israel, but all the nations of the earth, will be blessed. This is the theme of the book. (See note on
Psalms 96:11.)

It consists, like Book III, of seventeen Psalms, all of which are anonymous (though not all without titles) except 90 (and 91), Moses""s, and
101, 103, which are David""s.

Of the Divine Titles in this Fourth Book, Jehovah (Appdx-4) occurs 126 times, and Elohim (Appdx-4), 31 (10 of which are with Jehovah). El occurs 6 times.

Psalms 90 and 91 are evidently one Psalm in two parts, written by Moses at the beginning of the thirty-eight years of penal wanderings in the wilderness (in 1490 B. C), which are the subject of this Fourth Book.

Psalm 90 is suggested by, and occupied with, the sorrows of the vast multitude (associated with the 603, 550 "men of war") in the wilderness,
numbered, and sentenced to death; all from 20 years old and upward (
Numbers 14:29).

It is of these that verses 9-10 speak.

If a man was 20 when he was numbered (for the war) he died at or before 60
30 - 70
40 - 80
The average age would be 30, hence verse 10.

Psalm 91, on the other hand, presents the contrast of those under "the shadow of the Almighty". The deliverance of "the Church in the wilderness", from the causes and instrumentalities of death for the countless condemned thousands (in Psalm 90) whose carcases were to fall in the wilderness, is set forth at length, If a man was 19 when the penal wanderings began, he would be 57 (19 + 38) at the close. If a lad of 10, he would be 48; and so on.

This Psalm was therefore written for the comfort of "the Church in the wilderness" during the 40 years. Towards the close, myriads must have been cut off by the various agencies named:

The terror by night. The arrow that flieth by day. The pestilence in darkness. The destruction (contagion) at noonday. The lion and adder.

With regard to the latter, in the night journeyings (
Numbers 9:21) they would be exposed to danger and death from the adders which infest the district, and from the attacks of wild beasts. From all of these the trusters would be delivered, They would see with their eyes "the reward of the wicked" thousands dying around, yet nothing permitted to assail them.

If tents is right in verse 10, this is confirmation that Moses wrote this Psalm, and at, or about, the time suggested viz. 1490 B.C. 1 If 91 be a Psalm of Moses (following Psalm 90), then all the Scriptures quoted in our Lord""s temptation (even that which the evil one tried to quote) were from the writings of Moses !

90 106. THE FOURTH, OR NUMBERS BOOK*. THE EARTH AND THE NATIONS.

Prologue | 90 THE REST. LOST, AND NEEDED.
91 94. REST FOR THE EARTH DESIRED. No HOPE FOR IT TILL
"THE WICKED CEASE FROM TROUBLING".
95 100. REST FOR THE EARTH ANTICIPATED. NOTE THE CENTRAL VERSE OF THE PSALTER (
Psalms 96:11) AND THE REASON (Psalms 96:13).
101 105. REST FOR THE EARTH CELEBRATED. JEHOVAH""S THRONE IN THE HEAVENS, AND HIS KINGDOM OVER ALL (
Psalms 103:19).
Epilogue | 106. THE REST. HOW LOST, AND VALUED.

91 94. REST FOR THE EARTH DESIRED.
90. PROLOGUE. THE REST. LOST, AND NEEDED.
91. REST, ONLY IN JEHOVAH IN A PERISHING WORLD AND, THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH THE ONLY PLACE OF SAFETY IN IT.
92. PRAYER FOR THAT "SABBATH KEEPING" (YET TO COME,
Hebrews 4:9) WHEN ALL "WORKERS OF INIQUITY"SHALL BE CUT OFF (vv. Psalms 90:7, Psalms 90:9), AND THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL FLOURISH (v. 12) IN JEHOVAH THEIR "ROCK"AND "DEFENCE" (v. 15).
93. REST, ONLY IN JEHOVAH. HIS THRONE WHEN ESTABLISHED WILL BE THE PLACE OF SAFETY.
94. PRAYER FOR REST, TO JEHOVAH, "THE JUDGE OF THE EARTH", TO CUT OFF ALL "WORKERS OF INIQUITY" (vv.
Psalms 90:4, Psalms 90:16, Psalms 90:23), AND TO GIVE THE RIGHTEOUS REST (vv. 13-15) IN JEHOVAH, THEIR "ROCK" AND
"DEFENCE" (v. 22).
95 100. REST FOR THE EARTH ANTICIPATED.
95. WORSHIP, IN VIEW OF REST ANTICIPATED. HIS "PEOPLE" AND "SHEEP" (v. 7) TO "COME BEFORE HIS PRESENCE WITH THANKSGIVING" (v. 2). REASON:"JEHOVAH IS GREAT" (v. 3.)

96. A SUMMONS TO SING THE "NEW SONG". "FOR HE COMETH" (JUDGMENT).
97. THE NEW SONG. "JEHOVAH REIGNETH".
98. A SUMMONS TO SING THE "NEW SONG". "FOR HE COMETH" (JUDGMENT).
99. THE NEW SONG. "JEHOVAH REIGNETH".
100. WORSHIP, IN VIEW OF REST ANTICIPATED. HIS "PEOPLE" AND "SHEEP" (v. 3.). TO "COME BEFORE HIS PRESENCE WITH SINGING" (v. 2). REASON:"JEHOVAH IS GOOD" (v. 5).
101 105. REST FOR THE EARTH CELEBRATED.
101. THE COMING KINGDOM. ITS PRINCIPLES:"MERCY AND JUDGMENT" (v. 1). THE WICKED CUT OFF (5, 8).
102. THE KING IN HIS HUMILIATION AND COMING GLORY AS THE ETERNAL CREATOR (vv. 12, 24-27). ALL ELSE PERISHING (v. 26).
103. THE COMING KINGDOM. ITS MERCIES AND JUDGMENTS (vv. 4, 6, 17, 19).
104. THE KING IN HIS COMING GLORY AS THE ETERNAL CREATOR (v. 31). ALL ELSE PERISHING (vv. 5-7).
105. THE COMING KINGDOM. BASED ON THE COVENANT (vv. 8-12; 42-45-) OF "MERCY AND JUDGMENT".
106. EPILOGUE. THE REST. HOW LOST, AND VALUED.
90 106. THE NUMBERS BOOK.
THE EARTH AND THE NATIONS.

For the Structure, see p. 810. The book has to do with the EARTH and the NATIONS, as the first book (1 41) had to do with MAN the second book (42 72) with ISRAEL and the third book (73 89) with the SANCTUARY.



Verse 1

Title. A Prayer. Hebrew. Tephillah. See App-63.

Moses: the man of the wilderness. Hence the wilderness, and works of creation, referred to.

the man of God. See App-49. There are seven specially so called: Moses (Deuteronomy 33:1); Samuel (1 Samuel 9:6-10; Compare Psalms 90:14); David (Nehemiah 12:24); Elijah (1 Kings 17:18); Elisha (2 Kings 4:7); Shemaiah (2 Chronicles 11:2); Igdaliah (Jeremiah 35:4); and four unnamed (1 Samuel 2:27. 1 Kings 13:1; 1 Kings 20:28. 2 Chronicles 25:7).

God. Hebrew. Elohim.with Art.): i.e. the true God. App-4.

Lord*. Hebrew Adonai. App-4. = The Lord specially in relation to the earth. This is why this fourth book commences with this title, denoting the Sovereign Lord.

dwelling place = habitation, or refuge.


Verse 2

Or. = Ere. Positive, not comparative. Anglo-Saxon aer, from which we have our modern "ere"; found formerly as "er", "ear", and "yer". In Authorized Version, 1611, Numbers 11:33 read "yer it was chewed".

the world = the habitable world. Hebrew. tebel.

art: or wast.

GOD. Hebrew El. App-4.


Verse 3

man = mortal man. Hebrew. "enosh. App-14.

Return. Either to dust; or, in resurrection.

children of men = sons of Adam (singular) See App-14.


Verse 4

a thousand years. Compare 2 Peter 3:8.


Verse 8

iniquities. Hebrew. "avah. App-44.

secret. Hebrew is singular; hence we cannot supply "sins" but "[sin]". But some codices, with two early printed editions, read "secrets" (plural)


Verse 9

are passed away = have declined, or ended.

a tale that is told = a thought, or a sigh.


Verse 10

our: i.e. Moses, and those of whom he writes.

threescore years and ten. This refers to the length of life in the wilderness in the time of Moses, which must have been shortened specially, so that the adults died off within the forty years. The "days" were, and could thus be, actually "numbered", as stated in Psalms 90:12; and in a way they could not have been since then. See notes on p. 809.

strength. Hebrew, plural, meaning great strength (i.e. vigour, or strength for activity). Hebrew. gabar. Compare App-14.

their strength = their violence (i.e. strength for aggression). Hebrew. rahab. See notes on p. 809.

and we fly away. Figure of speech Euphemy, for dying. App-6.


Verse 11

Who . . . ? Figure of speech Erotesis. App-6.

power. Hebrew. "oz. Spelled with Ayin (") here, but "az (with Aleph) in Psalms 76:7. See note on Isaiah 11:4.


Verse 12

number our days. See note on "threescore", Psalms 90:10, above.

That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom = That we may bring home a heart of wisdom.


Verse 13

Return. Same word as Psalms 90:3.

LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

how long. Supply Ellipsis: "how long [shall we wait for Thy return]? "


Verse 14

early = in the morning.

mercy = lovingkindness, or grace.


Verse 15

according to the days . . . years: i.e. the forty years in the wilderness.

evil. Hebrew. ra"a". App-44.


Verse 17

God. Hebrew. Elohim. App-4.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-90.html. 1909-1922.

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