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Bible Commentaries

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Psalms 90

 

 

Verse 8

Psalm 90:8

"You have set our iniquities before you—our secret sins in the light of your countenance."Psalm 90:8

Thus Moses the man of God testified, and so Job found it—"For you write bitter things against me, and make me to possess the iniquities of my youth" ( Job 13:26). But though the Lord sets his people"s sins in the light of his countenance, and brings them to bear with weight and power upon their conscience, and thus for a time at least lets them sink and fall into distress and grief, he will support them under the heavy load, that they may not altogether be crushed by it.

I do think, that if there is one single grace more overlooked than another in the Church of God at the present day, it is the "grace of repentance". Though it lies at the very threshold of vital godliness, though it was one main element in the gospel that Paul preached, for he "testified both to the Jews and also to the Greeks repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" ( Acts 20:21), yet how it is passed by. Men speak of faith, hope, and love; but repentance, contrition, godly sorrow for sin, how much this part of God"s work upon the soul is passed by. But the Lord will not pass it by. Books may pass it by; men may pass it by; ministers may pass it by; but the Lord will not pass it by. He will bring out these secret sins and set them in the light of his countenance; and when he lays them upon the sinner"s conscience, he will make him feel what an evil and bitter thing it is to have sinned against the Lord.


Verse 12

Psalm 90:12

Psalm 90:12 "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

Casting our eyes back upon the year now past and gone, are there no mercies which claim a note of thankful praise? It is sweet to see the Lord"s kind hand in providence, but sweeter far to view his outstretched hand in grace. Are we then so unwatchful or so unmindful of the Lord"s gracious hand in his various dealings with our soul as to view the whole past twelve months as a dead blank in which we have never seen his face, nor heard his voice, nor felt his power? "Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness?" ( Jeremiah 2:31 ,) the Lord tenderly asks. Has he been such to us also for twelve long and weary months?

What! No help by the way, no tokens for good, no liftings-up of the light of his countenance, no visitations of his presence and power, no breakings-in of his goodness for all that long and dreary time—for dreary it must indeed have been for a living soul to have been left and abandoned of the Lord so long! If not blessed with any peculiar manifestations of Christ, with any signal revelations of his Person and work, blood and love, grace and glory, for such special seasons are not of frequent, occurrence, have we not still found him the Way, the Truth, and the Life? If we have indeed a personal and spiritual union with the Son of God, as our living Head, there will be communications out of his fullness, a supplying of all our needs—a drawing forth of faith, hope, and love—a support under trials, a deliverance from temptations, a deepening of his fear in the heart, and that continued work of grace whereby we are enabled to live a life of faith on the Son of God.


Verse 14

Psalm 90:14

"O satisfy us early with your mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."Psalm 90:14

Many of the dear children of God are tossed up and down on a sea of great uncertainty, doubt and fear, because they have not had sensible manifestations of Christ to their soul. He has not come into them in the power of his love; still they often say, "When will you come unto me? O visit me with your salvation; speak a word to my soul; it is yourself, and yourself alone, I want to hear, to see, and to know!"

Now these are drawings of the gracious Lord, the secret beginnings of his coming, the heralds of his approach, the dawning of the day before the morning star arises and the sun follows upon his track. But when the Lord does come in any sweet manifestation of his presence or of his power, then he will abide where he has come, for he never leaves or forsakes a soul which he has once visited. He may seem to do so; he may withdraw himself; and then who can behold him? But he never really leaves the temple which he has once adorned and sanctified with his presence. Christ is formed in the hearts of his people the hope of glory; their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and Christ dwells in them by faith. Though we often mourn over his absence and do not feel his gracious presence as we would, still he is there, if he has once come.


Verse 16

Psalm 90:16

"Let your work appear unto your servants, and your glory unto their children." Psalm 90:16

"Let your work appear unto your servants." Creature works we here read nothing of. They had been long ago cut to the very ground. And what had been their deathblow? What had driven the dagger into their very heart? "Days of affliction, and years of evil." These had been their destruction; creature righteousness they had stabbed to the very heart, and let out the life-blood of human merit. There is no petition, then, "Let our works appear!" No. These were buried in the grave of corruption; these were swallowed up and lost in "days of affliction, and years of evil." But, "Let your work," the finished work of the Son of God; the obedience of Jesus to the law; the atoning blood which he shed upon Calvary"s tree; the work which he undertook, went through, and completed—"Oh," breathes forth the man of God in earnest cry (and our hearts if they have been taught by the same Spirit will unite in the same strain), "let your work appear unto your servants!"

What! can we not see that work in the word of God? is not that sufficient? Can we not hear that work set forth by good men? is not that sufficient? Can we not read it as opened up by the pen of ready writers? is not that sufficient? Yes; for those who have never seen "days of affliction, and years of evil," amply sufficient; but not for God"s exercised children; they have other thoughts and other feelings upon these matters. They know what darkness of mind Isaiah , the power of unbelief, and creature helplessness; and they know that nothing short of the light of God"s countenance, the manifestation of God"s mercy, and the teaching and witness of God the Spirit, can make the work of Jesus appear in all its beauty, suitability, and glory; and therefore they can say,

"Let your work appear unto your servants. Give me, Lord, a sight by living faith of the atonement of Jesus. Show me" (the soul would cry in the language of Moses), "show me your glory; reveal in my heart the finished work of Jesus; sprinkle my conscience with his atoning blood; discover him to me, and thus give me a sweet manifestation of his Person, love, blood, and complete salvation. Let it, Lord, appear before my eyes, and in my heart, and seal it with divine power upon my conscience."


Verse 17

Psalm 90:17

"And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us—and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, the work of our hands establish it." Psalm 90:17

What is this beauty? "The beauty of the Lord our God." It Isaiah , therefore, the beauty of the God-man; the loveliness, the holiness, the perfection, and glory that ever dwells in the Son of God. Now "days of affliction, and years of evil" have marred all creature loveliness. There was a time, perhaps, when we could take some pleasure and delight in what we were, or what we vainly fancied we would be. Our own righteousness had a beauty and loveliness to us; and our religion was amiable and pleasing in our own sight. But what has become of it? Marred, marred; totally marred. By what? "Days of affliction, and years of evil." These have effectually ruined, defaced, and polluted all creature loveliness. In a word, we were once deeply in love with self; but self has been shown to us such a hideous monster, in so vile and despicable a light, that we have fallen out of love with him altogether; and we have seen, at times, such beauty, glory, loveliness, and suitability in the Son of God, that as we have fallen out of love with self, we have fallen in love with Jesus.

Thus as all our own beauty and our own loveliness have been marred and defaced, the beauty and loveliness of the Lord have risen in due proportion. So that this has become the desire of our soul, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us. Let us stand accepted in it; let it be put upon us by the imputation of God himself; let us be clothed with it manifestly before the eyes of a heart-searching Jehovah. Let the beauty of Jesus" atoning blood, the beauty of his perfect righteousness, the beauty of his dying love, the beauty and holiness of his glorious Person be upon us, covering all our filth, guilt and shame, spreading itself over all our nakedness, sin and pollution, that when God looks upon us, he may not see us as we are—marred, defaced, and full of wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; but may see us standing accepted in the Beloved, with "the beauty of the Lord our God" upon us." Oh, what a matchless robe is this! It outshines angels"—for it is the righteousness of God"s only-begotten Son! And if we stand with "the beauty of the Lord our God" upon us, we can bid defiance to all law-charges, to all the accusations of a guilty conscience, and to all the darts from hell.

 


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Bibliography Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/psalms-90.html.

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