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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 90:10

 

 

As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Threescore years and ten - See the note on the title of this Psalm 90 (note). This Psalm could not have been written by Moses, because the term of human life was much more extended when he flourished than eighty years at the most. Even in David's time many lived one hundred years, and the author of Ecclesiasticus, who lived after the captivity, fixed this term at one hundred years at the most (Sirach 18:9); but this was merely a general average, for even in our country we have many who exceed a hundred years.

Yet is their strength labor and sorrow - This refers to the infirmities of old age, which, to those well advanced in life, produce labor and sorrow.

It is soon cut of - It - the body, is soon cut off.

And we fly away - The immortal spirit wings its way into the eternal world.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-90.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The days of our years - Margin, “As for the days of our years, in them are seventy years.” Perhaps the language would better be translated: “The days of our years! In them are seventy years;” or, they amount to seventy years. Thus the psalmist is represented as reflecting on human life - on the days that make up the years of life; - as fixing his thought on those days and years, and taking the sum of them. The days of our years - what are they?

Are threescore years and ten - Not as life originally was, but as it has been narrowed down to about that period; or, this is the ordinary limit of life. This passage proves that the psalm was written when the life of man had been shortened, and had been reduced to about what it is at present; for this description will apply to man now. It is probable that human life was gradually diminished until it became fixed at the limit which now bounds it, and which is to remain as the great law in regard to its duration upon the earth. All animals, as the horse, the mule, the elephant, the eagle, the raven, the bee, the butterfly, have each a fixed limit of life, wisely adapted undoubtedly to the design for which they were made, and to the highest happiness of the whole. So of man. There can be no doubt that there are good reasons - some of which could be easily suggested - why his term of life is no longer. But, at any rate, it is no longer; and in that brief period he must accomplish all that he is to do in reference to this world, and all that is to be done to prepare him for the world to come. It is obvious to remark that man has enough to do to fill up the time of his life; that life to man is too precious to be wasted.

And if by reason of strength … - If there be unusual strength or vigor of natural constitution; or if the constitution has not been impaired or broken by toil, affliction, or vicious indulgence; or if the great laws of health have been understood and observed. Any of these causes may contribute to lengthen out life - or they may all be combined; and under these, separately or combined, life is sometimes extended beyond its ordinary limits. Yet the period of seventy is the ordinary limit beyond which few can go; the great mass fall long before they reach that.

Yet is their strength - Hebrew, “Their pride.” That of which a man who has reached that period might be disposed to boast - as if it were owing to himself. There is, at that time of life, as well as at other times, great danger lest that which we have received from God, and which is in no manner to be traced to ourselves, may be an occasion of pride, as if it were our own, or as if it were secured by our own prudence, wisdom, or merit. May it not, also, be implied here that a man who has reached that period of life - who has survived so many others - who has seen so many fall by imprudence, or vice, or intemperance - will be in special danger of being proud, as if it were by some special virtue of his own that his life had been thus lengthened out? Perhaps in no circumstances will the danger of pride be more imminent than when one has thus passed safely through dangers where others have fallen, and practiced temperance while others have yielded to habits of intemperance, and taken care of his own health while others have neglected theirs. The tendency to pride in man does not die out because a man grows old.

Labour and sorrow - The word rendered “labour” - עמל ‛âmâl - means properly “toil;” that is, wearisome labor. The idea here is, that toil then becomes burdensome; that the body is oppressed with it, and soon grows weary and exhausted; that life itself is like labor or wearisome toil. The old man is constantly in the condition of one who is weary; whose powers are exhausted; and who feels the need of repose. The word rendered “sorrow” - און 'âven - means properly “nothingness, vanity;” Isaiah 41:29; Zechariah 10:2; then, nothingness as to worth, unworthiness, iniquity - which is its usual meaning; Numbers 23:21; Job 36:21; Isaiah 1:13; and then, evil, adversity, calamity; Proverbs 22:8; Genesis 35:18. This latter seems to be the meaning here. It is, that happiness cannot ordinarily be found at that period of life; that to lengthen out life does not add materially to its enjoyment; that to do it, is but adding trouble and sorrow.

The ordinary hopes and plans of life ended; the companions of other years departed; the offices and honors of the world in other hands; a new generation on the stage that cares little for the old one now departing; a family scattered or in the grave; the infirmities of advanced years on him; his faculties decayed; the buoyancy of life gone; and now in his second childhood dependent on others as he was in his first; how little of happiness is there in such a condition! How appropriate is it to speak of it as a time of “sorrow!” How little desirable is it for a man to reach extreme old age! And how kind and merciful the arrangement by which man is ordinarily removed from the world before the time of “trouble and sorrow” thus comes! There are commonly just enough people of extreme old age upon the earth to show us impressively that it is not “desirable” to live to be very old; just enough to keep this lesson with salutary force before the minds of those in earlier life; just enough, if we saw it aright, to make us willing to die before that period comes!

For it is soon cut off … - Prof. Alexander renders this, “For he drives us fast;” that is, God drives us - or, one seems to drive, or to urge us on. The word used here - גז gāz - is commonly supposed to be derived from גזז gâzaz to cut, as to cut grass, or to mow; and then, to shear, sc. a flock - which is its usual meaning. Thus it would signify, as in our translation, to be cut off. This is the Jewish interpretation. The word, however, may be more properly regarded as derived from גוז gûz which occurs in but one other place, Numbers 11:31, where it is rendered “brought,” as applied to the quails which were brought or driven forward by the east wind. This word means, to pass through, to pass over, to pass away; and then, to cause to pass over, as the quails were Numbers 11:31 by the east wind. So it means here, that life is soon passed over, and that we flee away, as if driven by the wind; as if impelled or urged forward as chaff or any light substance is by a gale.

sa40


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-90.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 90:10

The days of our years are threescore years and ten.

The days of our years

I. Life’s earthly limit. “Threescore years and ten.”

1. How long when viewed in the light of time--when compared with the common lot of mankind.

2. How short when viewed in the light of eternity.

II. Life’s common heritage. “Yet is their strength labour and sorrow.”

1. Life even at its best estate is made up largely of labour and sorrow, of working and weeping.

2. Thank God for the labour and the sorrow, for they help us to rise to higher things. “Before I was afflicted,” etc.

III. Life’s final transition. “We fly away.”

1. Happy transition for the Christian. The restraints of this cage life are ended.

2. Hopeless transition for the Christless. (Homiletic Monthly.)

New Year

I. God has divinely appointed that life shall be measured by divisions of time. Day and night, spring, summer, autumn and winter are God’s way of distributing time. Each division is big with suggestions to us for whom the divisions were made.

1. It is a beneficent arrangement. The changes from the brightness of noonday to the blackness of midnight, from spring’s sunshine and flowers to autumn’s shadows and yellow leaves, from summer’s heat to winter’s frost, are voices whose emphasis and pathos are ever uttering grand yet awful lessons about mortality and death.

2. The arrangement furnishes symbols of our lifetime. Spring paints our childhood, summer our manhood, autumn old age, and winter death. Each year is an epitome of life.

II. Life is measured by years because of its brevity.

III. Life must be measured by years because of its worth. Each year is dealt out to us in particles because of the preciousness of time. The possibilities that lie in every year, for good or evil, are prodigious.

IV. Life must be measured by divisions of time because of its imperceptible departure. It ebbs from us with every breath. We never had less of it than we begin this new year with. All the past is spent. Whether it has been squandered or well laid out, it is gone, and it went almost imperceptibly. (Homiletic Monthly.)

The limits of life

I. Explanatory remarks.

1. Consider threescore years and ten, or fourscore years, as the limit beyond which the life of man doth not pass. The folly which leads men to expect to live a hundred years, because one individual may have reached them, is like that which encourages them to expect mercy in their last hour, because the thief on the cross obtained it. It hath the worst effects on life, and produces the bitterest feelings of disappointment and regret in death.

2. Consider that the limits of human life which are here specified are reached by few. Death commonly selects for its victims life at its best, and man in his prime. It becomes us, therefore, to say, “I will use the world as if I were soon to leave it; I will live with my friends as if I were soon to part with them; I will discharge my duty as becomes one who expects soon to give in his account.”

3. The protracting of life to the limits here specified is not in itself desirable the strength of such old men is labour and sorrow.

4. When life is come to these limits, its extinction may be hourly expected. It becomes the aged to submit to death without murmuring. It is your duty to be ready for your departure, and to employ every moment that remains in cultivating the spirit of the world to which you are going.

II. Conclusion.

1. To those who have arrived, or are on the point of arriving, at these limits.

2. To those who are yet at a distance from these limits of human life.

From twenty to seventy

The seventieth milestone of life is here planted as at the end of the journey. A few go beyond it; multitudes never reach it. First, then, I accost those of you who are in the twenties. You are full of expectation. You are ambitious--that is, if you amount to anything--for some kind of success, commercial, or mechanical, or professional, or literary, or agricultural, or social, or moral. Are you looking for wealth? Well, remember that God controls the money markets, the harvests, the droughts, the caterpillars, the locusts, the sunshine, the storm, the land, the sea, and you will get wealth. Perhaps not that which is stored up in banks, in houses and lands, but,our clothing, and board, and shelter, and that is about all you can appropriate anyhow. What a critical time, the twenties! While they continue you decide your occupation and the principles by which you will be guided. You make your most abiding friendships. You fix your habits. Lord God Almighty, have mercy on all the men and women in the twenties! Next I accost those in the thirties. You are at an age when you find what a tough thing it is to get recognized and established in your occupation or profession. In some respects the hardest decade of life is the thirties, because the results are generally so far behind the anticipations. Nine-tenths of the poetry of life have been knocked out of you since you came into the thirties. Men in the different professions and occupations saw that you were rising, and they must put an estoppel on you, or you might somehow stand in their way. They think you must be suppressed. Your decade is the one that will probably afford the greatest opportunity for victory, because there is the greatest necessity for struggle. As it is the greatest time of the struggle, I adjure you, in God’s name and by God’s grace, make it the greatest achievement. The fact is, that by the way you decide the present decade of your history you decide all the following decades. Next I accost the forties. Yours is the decade of discovery. No man knows himself until he is forty. By that time he has learned what he can do, or what he cannot do. He was sailing on in a fog and could not take a reckoning, but now it clears up enough to allow him to find out his real latitude and longitude. He has been climbing, but now he has got to the top of the hill, and he takes a long breath. Oh, this mountain-top of the forties! You have now the character you will probably have for all time and all eternity. Tell me, O men and women who are in the forties, your habits of thought and life, and I will tell you what you will for ever be! My sermon next accosts the fifties. This is the decade which shows what the other decades have been. If a young man has sown wild oats, and he has lived to this time, he reaps the harvest of it in the fifties, or if by necessity he was compelled to overtoil in honest directions, he is called to settle up with exacting nature some time during the fifties. O ye who are in the fifties, think of it! A half century of blessing to be thankful for, and a half century subtracted from an existence which, in the most marked cases of longevity, hardly ever reaches a whole century. By this time you ought to be eminent for piety. You have been in so many battles, you ought to be a brave soldier. You have made so many voyages, you ought to be a good sailor. So long protected and blessed, you ought to have a soul full of doxology. My sermon next accosts the sixties. The beginning of that decade is more startling than any other. In his chronological journey the man rides rather smoothly over the figures “2,” and “3,” and “4,” and “5,” but the figure “6” gives him a big jolt. He says: “It cannot be that I am sixty. Let me examine the old family record. I guess they made a mistake. They got my name down wrong in the roll of births.” But, no, the older brothers or sisters remember the time of his advent, and there is some relative a year older and another relative a year younger, and sure enough the fact is established beyond all disputation. Sixty! Now, your great danger is the temptation to fold up your faculties and quit. You will feel a tendency to reminisce. If you do not look out you will begin almost everything with the words, “When I was a boy.” But you ought to make the sixties more memorable for God and the truth than the fifties, or the forties, or the thirties. You ought to do more during the next ten years than you did in any thirty years of your life, because of all the experience you have had. My subject next accosts those in the seventies and beyond. My word to them is congratulation. You have got nearly, if not quite through. Here and there a skirmish with the remaining sin of your own heart and the sin of the World, but I guess you are about done. How do you feel about it? You ought to be jubilant because life is a tremendous struggle, and, if you have got through respectably and usefully, you ought to feel like people toward the close of a summer day seated on the rocks watching the sunset. The most of your friends have gone over the border, and you are going to join them very soon. They are waiting for you. What we all need is to take the supernatural into our lives. Do not let us depend on brain, and muscle, and nerve. We want a mighty supply of the supernatural. How to get it? Just as you get anything you want. By application. If you want anything you apply for it. By prayer apply for the supernatural. Take it into your daily business. A man got up in a New York prayer-meeting and said: “God is my partner. I did business without Him for twenty years, and failed every two or three years. I have been doing business with Him for twenty years and have not failed once.” Oh, take the supernatural into all your affairs! (T. De Witt Talmage.)

The days of our years

The days of our years are threescore years and ten. There is more sound than reality in that statement. The figures are illusory. Take from the seventy years some five years of more or less irresponsible infancy, and the figure drops to sixty-five. From sixty-five subtract one-third of itself as spent in sleep, and the figure drops to some forty-three years. That is, assuming that we live out the whole string of the seventy years. But let us take the obviously too high average of human life at fifty years: make the same deductions, and we shall find the average of human life reduced to some thirty years. But, though life is short, yet it is immortal; both the statements are true, and are therefore reconcilable. The leaves of every summer fall and die, but the great forests fatten and strengthen, and wave in the winds of centuries. An individual man dies and can no more be found than can the knell that dies upon his grave, yet humanity continues--continues building its cities, its temples and towers, weaving and spinning, carving and singing, going with a high joy, as if no grave had ever been cut in the breast of the green earth. We are not, therefore, to mope and moan about our own little day; we are not to lock ourselves up in the little prison of the uncertainty of our own existence; we are not to sit down and read the Bible till death tells us that it is time to go. We have to take in all the world as if it were our business to look after it; we must be inspired by our immortality, not discouraged by our frailty. It was thus that Jesus lived. He died ere He had lived out half His seventy years, yet He never died at all. He said: “Pull down what temple you like, that is good, and I will build it again: you cannot pull down God’s temples except that they may be rebuilt and enlarged;” and whilst the enemy had Him, the one on the left shoulder and the other on the right, and were hurrying Him away to kill, Him, He turned His head over His shoulder, as it were, and said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Jesus Christ still keeps His place in civilization. He begins where others end. Where they cry from exhaustion He puts on His strength. Where the mystery bewilders and blinds them, He dispels it by many a shaft of light. He is the propitiation for my sins, He stands between me and God, and O, mystery of love, He stands between me and Himself; for He, too, is Judge, and the sentence of life and death is upon His lips. He knows my days--He comforts me with many a promise. (J. Parker, D.D.)

And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow.

The evening of life sorrowful

1. From the ordinary weaknesses of the body. Very few are permitted to carry with them down into the vale of years the vigour of youth. The muscles lose their elasticity, the eye grows dim, the ear is dull of hearing, and the whole body bends toward the grave.

2. From decay of the mental energies. The power of thought, of reflection, of association, and of reasoning, the power of recollection and of memory, seem all to partake of the same weakness as do the powers of the body.

3. From depression of animal spirits. The mind that has been active, and has commanded attention and respect, cannot, without some degree of pain, see itself neglected, and sinking into comparative disesteem. Hence we cannot wonder if we see crossing the cheek, furrowed with age, the tear of melancholy.

4. From loss of companions. He stands like a tree which was once in the bosom of a forest, but now is left to feel the full weight of every storm, while the associates of his youth, whose united energies would obtrude the blast, have all perished; and his decaying boughs too strongly indicate that he must soon yield the soil to a later growth, and permit the winds of heaven to pass unobstructed.

5. From the impression that every step is upon the margin of the grave. Every pang he feels reminds him that his grave will soon be ready. So tardy flows the stream of life as to assure him that soon the heart will beat no longer. (D. A. Clark.)


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 90:10". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-90.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The days of our years are threescore years and ten,.... In the Hebrew text it is, "the days of our years in them are", &c.F1בהם "in ipsis", Pagninus, Montanus; "in quibus vivimus", Tigurine version, Vatablus. ; which refers either to the days in which we live, or to the persons of the Israelites in the wilderness, who were instances of this term of life, in whom perhaps it first took place in a general way: before the flood, men lived to a great age; some nine hundred years and upwards; after the flood, men lived not so long; the term fixed then, as some think, was an hundred and twenty years, grounding it on the passage in Genesis 6:3, but now, in the time of Moses, it was brought to threescore years and ten, or eighty at most: of those that were numbered in the wilderness of Sinai, from twenty years and upwards, there were none left, save Joshua and Caleb, when the account was taken in the plains of Moab; see Numbers 14:29, so that some must die before they were sixty; others before seventy; and perhaps all, or however the generality of them, before eighty: and, from that time, this was the common age of men, some few excepted; to the age of seventy David lived, 2 Samuel 5:4, and so it has been ever since; many never come up to it, and few go beyond it: this is not only pointed at in revelation, but is what the Heathens have observed. Solon used to say, the term of human life was seventy yearsF2Laertius in Vita Solon. p. 36. Herodotus, l. 1. sive Clio, c. 32. Macrob. in Somno Scipionis, l. 1. c. 6. p. 58. & Plin. Epist. l. 1. Ep. 12. & Solon. Eleg. apud Clement. Alex. Stromat. l. 6. p. 685, 686. ; so others; and a people called Berbiccae, as Aelianus relatesF3Vat. Hist. l. 4. c. 1. , used to kill those of them that lived above seventy years of age, having exceeded the term of life. The Syriac version is, "in our days our years are seventy years"; with which the Targum agrees,

"the days of our years in this world are seventy years of the stronger;'

for it is in them that such a number of years is arrived unto; or "in them", that is, in some of them; in some of mankind, their years amount hereunto, but not in all: "and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years"; through a good temperament of body, a healthful and strong constitution, under a divine blessing, some may arrive to the age of eighty; there have been some instances of a strong constitution at this age and upwards, but not very common; see Joshua 14:11, for, generally speaking, such who through strength of body live to such an age,

yet is their strength labour and sorrow; they labour under great infirmities, feel much pain, and little pleasure, as Barzillai at this age intimates, 2 Samuel 19:35, these are the evil daysF4"----tristisque senectus et labor----". Virgil. Georg. l. 3. v. 67. , in which is no pleasure, Ecclesiastes 12:1, or "their largeness or breadth is labour and sin"F5רהבם "amplitudo eorum", Montanus. ; the whole extent of their days, from first to last, is spent in toil and labour to live in the world; and is attended with much sin, and so with much sorrow:

for it is soon cut off; either the strength of man, or his age, by one disease or incident or another, like grass that is cut down with the scythe, or a flower that is cropped by the hand; see Job 14:2,

and we fly away; as a shadow does, or as a bird with wings; out of time into eternity; from the place of our habitation to the grave; from a land of light to the regions of darkness: it is well if we fly away to heaven and happiness.


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A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-90.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The days of our years [are] threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength [they be] i fourscore years, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

(i) Meaning according to the common state of life.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-90.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Moses‘ life was an exception (Deuteronomy 34:7).

it is … cut off — or, “driven,” as is said of the quails in using the same word (Numbers 11:31). In view of this certain and speedy end, life is full of sorrow.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-90.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Our years — Of the generality of mankind, in that and all following ages, some few persons excepted.

Flee — We do not now go to death, as we do from our very birth, but flee swiftly away like a bird, as this word signifies.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-90.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

10.In the days of our years there are threescore years and ten. He again returns to the general doctrine respecting the precariousness of the condition of men, although God may not openly display his wrath to terrify them. “What,” says he, “is the duration of life? Truly, if we reckon all our years, we will at length come to threescore and ten, or, if there be some who are stronger and more vigorous, they will bring us even to fourscore.” Moses uses the expression,the days of our years, for the sake of emphasis; for when the time is divided into small portions, the very number itself deceives us, so that we flatter ourselves that life is long. With the view of overthrowing these vain delusions, he permits men to sum up the many thousand days (570) which are in a few years; while he at the same time affirms that this great heap is soon brought to nothing. Let men then extend the space of their life as much as they please, by calculating that each year contains three hundred and sixty-five days; yet assuredly they will find that the term of seventy years is short. When they have made a lengthened calculation of the days, this is the sum in which the process ultimately results. He who has reached the age of fourscore years hastens to the grave. Moses himself lived longer, (Deuteronomy 34:7,) (571) and so perhaps did others in his time; but he speaks here of the ordinary term. And even then, those were accounted old men, and in a manner decrepit, who attained to the age of fourscore years; so that he justly declares that it is the robust only who arrive at that age. He puts pride for the strength or excellence of which men boast so highly. The sense is, that before men decline and come to old age, even in the very bloom of youth they are involved in many troubles, and that they cannot escape from the cares, weariness, sorrows, fears, griefs, inconveniences, and anxieties, to which this mortal life is subject. Moreover, this is to be referred to the whole course of our existence in the present state. And assuredly, he who considers what is the condition of our life from our infancy until we descend into the grave, will find troubles and turmoil in every part of it. The two Hebrew words עמל, amal, and און, aven, which are joined together, are taken passively for inconveniences and afflictions; implying that the life of man is full of labor, and fraught with many torments, and that even at the time when men are in the height of their pride. The reason which is added, for it swiftly passes by, and we fly away, seems hardly to suit the scope of the passage; for felicity may be brief, and yet on that account it does not cease to be felicity. But Moses means that men foolishly glory in their excellence, since, whether they will or no, they are constrained to look to the time to come. And as soon as they open their eyes, they see that they are dragged and carried forward to death with rapid haste, and that their excellence is every moment vanishing away.


Copyright Statement
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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-90.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 90:10 The days of our years [are] threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength [they be] fourscore years, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Ver. 10. The days of our years are threescore, &c.] So Solon in Laertius saith, the term of man’s life is seventy years, this few exceed, and fewer attain to. To the same sense speaketh Macrobius also (Lib. 1., Som. cap. 6), saying, Septies deni anni a Physicis creditur meta vivendi, et hoc vitae humanae perfectum spacium terminatur, &c. The Fathers lived longer; but as men’s wickedness increased, so their days decreased; and now their lives are daily shortened, the generations despatch away, that the world may the sooner come to an end. If Moses and Aaron of old, and Iohannes de temporibus, and some few others of latter time, live longer, even to a hundred or more, these are singular examples, and it is of the generality that the psalmist here speaketh.

And if by reason of strength, &c.] One readeth it thus; And if by fortitude fourscore years, even their latitude is labour and sorrow; that is, this enlarging of the time bringeth nothing but labour and misery, because now the body is diseased (Dr Major).

For it is soon cut off] As a web, or as grass.

And we fly away] As a bird upon the wing, or as an hour of the day.

Qui nescit quo vita modo volat, audiat horas;

Quam sit vita fugax, nos docet iste sonus.

I am not eternity, said Epictetus, but a man; that is, a small part of the whole, as the hour is of the day; I must therefore come and go away as the hour doth (Enchirid.).


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-90.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Psalms 90:10

It is a paradox, and yet, like many other paradoxes, a truism also, to say that death generally alters, sometimes reverses, the whole estimate of a life. It will scarcely be doubted that in such cases the second judgment, if not absolutely just, is the more just in comparison. The true judgment is the ultimate, not the intermediate. This is a difference real and practical for us the living. If the presence or absence of certain qualities or principles is to make a life good or evil, honourable or of ill report, in the retrospect of it from the graveside or from the judgment-seat, what ought it to be now? How shall we so live now as to be pronounced then to have lived the right life? Take, out of a multitude, three characteristics.

I. Disinterestedness. When the criterion of this Psalm is applied to any life, we shall see at once that it must be fatal to a selfish life. Disinterestedness is the first condition of the everlasting man. He sees himself one link, a very insignificant link, in a chain which binds together two eternities. He cannot fall down and worship the link. He must be true, he must be righteous, or he breaks the chain. For the chain is let down from the throne of God, and it fastens together—unintelligible else the union—God the Creator and God the Judge.

II. The second condition of an immortal life is that it is religious. In general it is the religious man who survives death. I believe that when death is once past, even earth is just. I believe that earth itself does homage only to dead saints. When ambition is in the dust, history appreciates virtue, applauds faith. The life that is to live after death, whether on earth or in heaven, must be a religious, a Christian, life.

III. The life which earth shall immortalize is a life not of power so much, but of love. We are all by nature worshippers, idolaters, bondmen, of power. It is not power, not wit, not genius, still less success of office or honour, it is love, which makes a man immortal. For his love's sake, for his tenderness, for his sympathy, you will forgive him many a fault and many a shortcoming; you will retain his memory long as life lasts for that one word, that one line, that one look, which told you that he understood you, that he felt for you, that he was your friend.

C. J. Vaughan, Words of Hope, p. 206.



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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/psalms-90.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 90:10. The days of our years are, &c.— If this may be thought too short a term for the general standard of human life in those early ages, as one would infer from hence that Moses could not be the author of this psalm, yet it suits well with the particular case of the Israelites in the wilderness, whose lives were shortened by an express decree, so that a great number of them could not possibly reach the age of seventy; and those who did, probably, soon felt a swift decay.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-90.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The days of our years; either,

1. Of the Israelites in the desert, who being twenty years old, and some, thirty, some forty, some fifty years old, when they came out of Egypt, and dying in the wilderness, as all of that age did, Numbers 14:29, a great number of them doubtless died in their seventieth or eightieth year, as is here implied. Or rather,

2. Of the generality of mankind, and the Israelites no less than others, in that and all following ages, some few persons excepted, amongst whom were Moses, and Caleb, and Joshua, who lived a hundred and twenty years; which is therefore noted of them as a thing singular and extraordinary. This sense suits best with the following words, and with the scope of Moses; which was to represent the vain and transitory condition of men in this life, and how much mankind was now sunk below their ancestors, who commonly lived many hundreds of years; and that the Israelites, though God’s peculiar people, and endowed with many privileges, yet in this were no better than other men; all which may be considered, either as an argument to move God to pity and spare them, or as a motive to awaken and quicken the Israelites to serious preparations for death, by comparing this with Psalms 90:12.

Threescore years and ten; Which time the ancient heathen writers also fixed as the usual space of men’s lives.

By reason of strength, i.e. by the strength of their natural constitution; which is the true and common cause of longer life.

Their strength; their strongest and most vigorous old age. Or, their excellency, or pride; that old age which is their glory, and in which men do commonly glory.

Labour and sorrow; filled with troubles and griefs from the infirmities of age, the approach of death, and the contingencies of human life.

It, either our age or our strength,

is soon cut off; it doth not now decline by many degrees and slow steps, as it doth in our young and flourishing age, but decayeth apace, and suddenly flieth away.

We fly away; we do not now go to death, as we do from our very birth, nor run, but fly swiftly away like a bird, as this word signifies.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-90.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

10. Threescore years and ten—This is not given as the average of human life, nor the absolute maximum, but as the general average maximum. The average of human life may be reckoned between thirty and forty years.

Yet is their strength—Their pride, or that in which they boast.

Labour and sorrow—The words are nearly synonymous; the sense is, wearisome labour and emptinessrestless toiling and nothing accomplished.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-90.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 90:10. The days of our years — Of the generality of mankind, in that and all following ages, some few persons excepted, are threescore years and ten — Which time the ancient heathen writers also fixed as the usual space of men’s lives. And if by reason of strength — That is, more than ordinary strength of constitution, which is the common cause of longer life; they be — In some individuals; fourscore years — At which age few indeed arrive; yet is their strength — Their strongest and most vigorous old age; labour and sorrow — Filled with troubles and griefs from the infirmities of age, the approach of death, and the contingencies of human life. For it is soon cut off — Our strength doth not then decline by slow degrees, as it doth in our flourishing age, but decays apace; we do not then go, nor run toward death, as we do from our very birth, but we fly swiftly toward it, or, fly away like a bird, as the word נעפה, nagnupha, here used, signifies. “If the time here specified by Moses be thought too short a term for the general standard of human life in those early ages, yet it suits well with the particular case of the Israelites in the wilderness, whose lives were shortened by an express decree, so that a great number of them could not possibly reach the age of seventy; and those who did, probably soon felt a swift decay.” — Dodd.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-90.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Scourge. Aquila has Greek: Aphe, "the leprosy," (Calmet) or any stroke of distress. (Haydock) --- What the saints have suffered were not real evils, and they will be amply rewarded in heaven. They never complain, having God with them, (Calmet; ver. 15.; Haydock) and his holy angels. (Menochius)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-90.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

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.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-90.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(10) Yet is their strength . . .—The LXX. (and so Vulg.) appear to have had a slightly different reading, which gives much better sense: “Yet their additional years are but labour and sorrow.” The old man has no reason to congratulate himself on passing the ordinary limit, of life.

For it is soon cut off.—This seems hardly to give, as it professes to do, a reason for the fact that the prolongation of life beyond its ordinary limit brings trouble and sorrow, and we are compelled to see if the words can convey a different meaning. Literally the clause is, for (or thus) passeth haste, and we fly away (like a bird), which may be rendered, thus there comes a haste that we may fly away; i.e., even though we may have prayed for an extension of life, it brings with it such weariness that we long at last to escape—a fact sufficiently true to experience.

“Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb,

Unable to support this lump of clay,

Swift winged with desire to get a grave.”

SHAKSPEARE.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-90.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
The days, etc
Heb. As for the days of our years, in them are seventy years.
Genesis 47:9; Deuteronomy 34:7
yet
2 Samuel 19:35; 1 Kings 1:1; Ecclesiastes 12:2-7
for
78:39; Job 14:10; *marg:; Job 24:24; Isaiah 38:12; Luke 12:20; James 4:14

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 90:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-90.html.

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