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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 90:11

 

 

Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?

Adam Clarke Commentary

Who knoweth the power of thine angers - The afflictions of this life are not to be compared to the miseries which await them who live and die without being reconciled to God, and saved from their sins.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-90.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Who knoweth the power of thine anger? - Who can measure it, or take a correct estimate of it, as it is manifest in cutting down the race of people? If the removal of people by death is to be traced to thine anger - or is, in any proper sense, an expression of thy wrath - who can measure it, or understand it? The cutting down of whole generations of people - of nations - of hundreds of million of human beings - of the great, the powerful, the mighty, as well as the weak and the feeble, is an amazing exhibition of the “power” - of the might - of God; and who is there that can fully understand this? Who can estimate fully the wrath of God, if this is to be regarded as an expression of it? Who can comprehend what this is? Who can tell, after such an exhibition, what may be in reserve, or what further and more fearful displays of wrath there may yet be?

Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath - literally, “And according to thy fear, thy wrath.” The word rendered “fear” would here seem to refer to the “reverence” due to God, or to what there is in his character to inspire awe: to wit, his power, his majesty, his greatness; and the sense seems to be that his wrath or anger as manifested in cutting down the race seems to be commensurate with all in God that is vast, wonderful, incomprehensible. As no one can understand or take in the one, so no one can understand or take in the other. God is great in all things; great in himself; great in his power in cutting down the race; great in the expressions of his displeasure.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-90.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 90:11

Who knoweth the power of Thine anger?
even according to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath.

The power of God’s anger

I. When I consider the difficulties which lie in the way of our measuring the power of anger that resides in the bosom of God, I conclude that it is chiefly His steady and orderly goodness which has thrust His displeasure out of sight. Only occasionally does nature suggest wrath. Her deliberate arrangements are all inspired by goodness. I have often had occasion to observe how quietly the earth sets herself to repair, by slow and helpful work, the mischief which had been wrought in an hour, and I have never been able to witness it without admiration. I well recollect a scene which seemed to set me in the midst of nature’s fury. A fertile and populous Alpine valley had been turned to desolation by the storm of one winter’s day, when fierce torrents from heaven had snatched the frost-loosened stones from the mountain’s crest, and rolled them down its huge ribs with a rattle like thunder, to hurl them, an avalanche of barrenness, upon the peasants’ farms below. At once the wrath of Heaven had undone the labour of generations of patient men, silted up their homesteads and mills, torn up by the roots their vines and mulberry-trees, and turned into a bed of stones the acres on which their corn had grown. Here, one thought, might be seen “the power of His anger.” But long before I passed that way, the steadfast beneficence of God’s earth, lending itself to toilsome and unrepining hands, as it is wont to do, had begun to correct the mischief of its sudden wrath; and years on years of prosperous husbandry may pass over these peasant families before another day of ruin shall come to fill their vale with lamentation. Thus the earth bears witness that the Lord is slow to anger but of great mercy; that “in a little wrath He hides His face from us for a moment,” but it is “with everlasting kindness He hath mercy on us.” The experience which we have had of God in our own lives is to the same effect. To most of us, the days on which disaster fell into our life to crush us may be the most memorable we have spent; but they are by far the fewest. Such bitter days we count upon our fingers; our happier ones by years. The healthful and gladdening influences of God’s bounty, and human fellowship, and hope, and natural affection, are all about us continually. Judgment is God’s strange work; but His tender mercies are over all His works.

II. Yet, although we cannot reach to the bottom of God’s wrath, and need not regret that we cannot, there is one way open to us by which we may partly estimate it. The wrath of God is “according to His fear”; to His fearfulness, that is, or His fitness for inspiring in the bosoms of men an awful and sacred dread. Such attributes as infinity, immensity, unsearchableness, almightiness, and omnipresence, are very fit to overwhelm our feeble souls under a consciousness of helplessness which is near of kin to terror. When to these is added the moral magnificence of a justice which judges by an absolute standard, and of a perfection which makes no account of anything in comparison of mere rightness or goodness, then such frail and yielding creatures as we are, whose very virtues are compromises, in whom nothing is found of perfect temper, may most reasonably shrink in terror.

1. Susceptible souls are sometimes, under favourable conditions, wrought to fear by the mere vastness, or mystery, or loneliness of God’s material works.

2. The mass of men are too unimaginative or too stupid to be much moved by the mere sublimity of God’s everyday creation. They need occasional outbursts of unwonted violence to prick their hearts to fear Him. God does not always mean, when He lets loose disease or disaster among men, to “make a way to His anger,” as He is said to have meant when He plagued old Egypt. For the most part He means mercy. He is still “turning His anger away and not stirring up all His wrath.” But what He probably does design by exceptional explosions of the fatal forces which slumber in nature is to awaken a wholesome terror in dull hearts, and to suggest how dreadful His wrath may prove when the time for wrath shall have come, since now in the time of grace His providence can be so fearful.

3. All this, however if we take it by itself, does not mean a great deal. In order to estimate the capacity of wrath in the Almighty, I need to know more than His strength, more than His material terribleness. I must know whether there exists in His moral nature any severity which will dispose Him to be angry on just cause, which will steel Him against the infirmity of unrighteous pity, and will move Him to be rigorous where rigour is required. In other words, has God in Him any element of moral terribleness? Is He of such deadly earnestness in His displeasure against wrong that He can, in despite of pity, inflict the extreme of pain, of wrath, of bitter death? for, if so, He is beyond question a most fearful God. A Being who possesses such strength as His, and at the same time is not too tender to use it against sin, must be to every sinner unspeakably dreadful. I do not say whether God can inflict uttermost suffering for sin, judge ye of that; I say He can endure it. He bore what it would be fearful to see another bear. He pursued sin to His own death, and in His jealousy for justice satisfied justice in His own blood. I make bold to ask every one of you who is not sure that he has repented of his sins, whether he thinks the God who took flesh and died for sin at Jerusalem is a God with whom it is safe to trifle? (J. O. Dykes, D.D.)

On the greatness of God’s anger

First see how anger can be ascribed to God: for an infinite and Divine nature cannot be degraded to those affections and weaknesses that attend ours. Anger is a passion, but God is impassible. Anger is always with some change in the person that has it, but God is unchangeable. Certainly, therefore, anger and the like affections can by no means be ascribed to the infinitely perfect God, in the proper and usual acceptation of the words, but only by an anthropopathy. God is said to be angry, when He does some things that bear a similitude to those effects that anger produces in men.

I. Preparatory cautional observations.

1. Every harsh and severe dispensation is not an effect of God’s anger. The same effect, as to the matter of it, may proceed from very different causes. Love is sometimes put upon the rigour of those courses, which at the first aspect seem to carry in them the inscriptions of hostility.

2. There is a great difference between God’s anger and His hatred; as great as there is between the transient expiring heat of a spark, and the lasting continual fires which supply a furnace. God was angry with Moses, David, Hezekiah, and with His peculiar people; but we do not read that He hated them. The effects of His anger differ as much from the effects of His hatred, as the smart of a present pain from the corrosions of an abiding poison.

II. Instances in which this unsupportable anger of God does exercise and exert itself.

1. It inflicts immediate blows and rebukes upon the conscience. When God wounds a man by the loss of an estate, of His health, of a relation, the smart is but commensurate to the thing which is lost, poor and finite. But when He Himself employs His whole omnipotence, and is both the archer, and Himself the arrow, there is as much difference between this and the former, as when a house lets fall a cobweb, and when it falls itself upon a man.

2. God’s anger exerts itself by embittering of afflictions. Every affliction is of itself a grievance, and a breach made upon our happiness; but there is sometimes a secret energy, that so edges and quickens its afflictive operation, that a blow levelled at the body, shall enter into the very soul. As a bare arrow tears and rends the flesh before it, but if dipped in poison, as by its edge it pierces, so by its adherent venom it festers.

3. It shows and exerts itself by cursing of enjoyments. We may, like Solomon, have all that wit can invent, or heart desire, and yet at last, with the same Solomon, sum up all our accounts in “vanity and vexation of spirit.” Alas! it is not the body and the mass of those things which we call plenty that can speak comfort, when the wrath of God shall blast and dispirit them with a curse. We may build our nest soft and convenient, but that can easily place a thorn in the midst of it, that shall check us in our repose.

III. Those properties and qualifications which declare and set forth the extraordinary greatness of God’s anger.

1. It is fully commensurate to the very utmost of our fears, which is noted even in the words of the text: “According to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath.”

2. It not only equals, but infinitely exceeds and transcends our fears. The misery of the wicked, and the happiness of the saints, run in an equal parallel; so that by one you may best measure the proportions of the other. And for the former of these, we have a lively description of it in 1 Corinthians 2:9.

3. Though we may attempt it in our thoughts, yet we cannot bring it within the comprehensions of our knowledge. And the reason is, because things which are the proper objects of feeling, are never perfectly known, but by being felt.

4. We may take a measure of the greatness of God’s anger by comparing it with the anger of men. How dreadful is the wrath of a king! (Proverbs 19:12). But what can be said of the terrors of an almighty wrath, an infinite indignation?

IV. Improvement.

1. The intolerable misery of such as labour under a lively sense of God’s wrath for sin.

2. The ineffable vastness of Christ’s love to mankind in His sufferings for them.

3. Terror to such as can be quiet and at peace within themselves, after the commission of great sins.

4. The most natural sequel and improvement of all that has been said of God’s anger, is a warning against that cursed thing which provokes it. We see how dreadfully it burns; let us beware of the sin by which it is kindled. (R. South, D.D.)

The power of God’s anger

There is a slavish fear of God, and there is also a filial fear. The one belongs to the man who know God only as Creator--the other to him who through the Spirit of adoption has been led to know God as a Father. Which fear, then, is it which the psalmist gives as the measure of God’s wrath: “Even according to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath”? We cannot decide between the two, for either will equally serve as a standard, and therefore both may be considered as intended by the Spirit. But the difficulties of interpretation are not done with, so soon as we have settled that the passage thus admits of double application. There are more senses than one in which God’s wrath is according to His fear, whether that fear be the fear of a slave or the fear of a son; and we cannot, perhaps, better divide so intricate a subject, than by taking the two great classes of mankind, the lovers of the world and the lovers of God, and endeavouring to show in each case the applicability of the text.

I. We begin with those who as yet have turned no willing ear to the invitation, “Be ye reconciled to God,” and we are to listen to this thrilling question circulating through their ranks, “Who knoweth the power of God’s anger?” What then? If I view the whole family of man, exiled from happiness for the offence of their forefather, do I know nothing of the power of God’s anger? If I look upon our globe, going down with its teeming tenantry into the sepulchre of waters--if I survey the cities of the plain, drenched with the fiery showers--if I behold Jerusalem, turned up by the ploughshare of the Roman, and her sons and her daughters scattered like the ashes of a furnace--if I see God exemplifying with an awful fidelity the word of the psalmist, “A fruitful land maketh He barren, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein”--know I nothing of the power of the anger of the Lord? No man knows the power of God’s anger, because that power has never yet put itself forth to its full stretch. Is there, then, no measure of God’s wrath no standard by which we may estimate its intenseness? There is no fixed measure or standard, but there is a variable one. The wicked man’s fear of God is a measure of the wrath of God. There is such a fear and such a dread of that God into whose immediate presence he feels himself about to be ushered, that even they who love him best, and charm him most, shrink from the wildness of his gaze and the fearfulness of his speech. And we cannot tell the man, though he may be just delirious with apprehension, that his fear of God invests the wrath of God with a darker than its actual colouring. On the contrary, we know that “according to the fear so is the wrath.” We may therefore pause, and beseech those amongst you who are still living at enmity with God seriously to lay to heart this simple, but solemn truth--that fear is no microscope, when turned towards the wrath of your Maker. It cannot give the true dimensions, but it is utterly impossible that it should give larger than the true. God’s anger is altogether measureless: when once aroused we set no limits to its power; hence it is not possible that the fear should mount too high: wrath keeps pace with it in its most enormous strides. But God’s anger may be arrested; and here again it is that according to the fear, so is the wrath. The fear which gave a measure of wrath, in itself gives also the measure and the degree wherein it should be executed. God willeth not the death of any sinner, but would rather that all men should repent, and turn unto Him and live. Let this fear produce submission, obedience; and the wrath which was just ready to strike is mitigated and softened away; according as men do more or less tremble at God’s judgments, God does more or less execute them. Thus the power of the anger is not to be understood, because it is altogether inexplicable.

II. We turn to those men who have been admitted by adoption into the family of God, and we seek for senses in which, in reference to them, it holds good, that according to his fear, so is God’s wrath. It would appear from a verse in the 130th psalm, that true fear of God arises from a sense of God’s forgiving love--“But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.” It is, you observe, distinctly affirmed that the fear of God is the result of being forgiven of God. Let us, for an instant, trace the connection, and then turn it to a further illustration of the text. We may admit that in transactions between man and man such a connection does not necessarily exist at all. The forgiveness may be accorded without change of heart, and is not necessarily productive of change of deportment; but the reverse of all this must be affirmed when the forgiving party is God: He pardons only those whom He hath Himself made penitent; He renews the man when He remits his offences, and thus there is at once an assurance that the man becoming an altered man on becoming forgiven, forgiveness will bind him to God’s service by all those ties of gratitude and affection which an act of free grace seems most calculated to produce. And from this it clearly follows, that he who has most of the fear of God, will have the keenest sense of the wrath of God. It is the man who lives much upon Calvary, who frequently visits the scene of the Saviour’s agony, and who marks with wonder, with contrition, and with thankfulness the pouring forth of the most precious blood for the sake of his own rescue from final perdition--this man it is who will fear God with the fear to which forgiveness is parent; and who, we may now ask, can know so much of the wrath of God as he who is thus conversant with the emptying of that wrath on the head of the Redeemer? on this one occasion, though it may be on no other, God set forth to the intelligent creation the power of His anger; and if it were not that our affections are quickly borne down by the mysteries of Christ’s death, so that we can form to ourselves no conception of the intenseness of anguish, but are quickly bewildered and confounded at the very mention of the sweat of blood and the hidings of the Father’s countenance; if we could estimate--but who can estimate?--eternity condensed into a moment, and driven into the soul; if we could estimate the wretchedness, if we could weigh the burden, if we could count the arrows, and thus bring within our compass the endurances of the Saviour, there might rise up some amongst us to reply affirmatively to the question--“Who knoweth the power of Thine anger?” But, nevertheless, though no one can affirm of his knowledge that it is coextensive with the power, yet must all perceive that he carries knowledge furthest who is most deeply studious of the sufferings of Christ. And if it be undeniable that he will fear God most who is most with Christ in the garden and on the mount, and if it be equally undeniable that he who most scrutinizes the anguish which thronged the work of expiation will discern most of the anger of the Lord, then it will follow at once that the wrath is in proportion to the fear. (H. Melvill, B.D.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 90:11". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-90.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Who knoweth the power of thine anger?.... Expressed in his judgments on men: as the drowning of the old world, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, the consumption of the Israelites in the wilderness; or in shortening the days of men, and bringing them to the dust of death; or by inflicting punishment on men after death; they are few that take notice of this, and consider it well, or look into the causes of it, the sins of men: such as are in hell experimentally know it; but men on earth, very few closely attend to it, or rarely think of it:

even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath; or who knows thy wrath, so as to fear thee? who considers it so, as that it has such an influence upon him to fear the Lord, and stand in awe of him, and fear to offend him, and seek to please him? or rather the wrath of God is answerable to men's fear of him; and that, in some things and cases, men's fears exceed the things feared; as afflictions viewed beforehand, and death itself: the fears of them are oftentimes greater, and more distressing, than they themselves, when they come; but so it is not with the wrath of God; the greatest fears, and the most dreadful apprehensions of it, do not come up to it; it is full as great as they fear it is, and more so.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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 90:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-90.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

k Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, [so is] thy wrath.

(k) If man's life for the shortness of it is miserable, it is even more so if your wrath is on it, as they who fear you only know.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-90.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The whole verse may be read as a question implying the negative, “No one knows what Thy anger can do, and what Thy wrath is, estimated by a true piety.”


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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 90:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-90.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

Thy fear — According to the fear of thee; according to that fear which sinful men have of a just God.

So — It bears full proportion to it, nay indeed doth far exceed it.


Copyright Statement
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 90:11". "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

11.Who knoweth, the power of thy anger? Moses again returns to speak of the peculiar afflictions of the Israelites; for he had also on this occasion complained before of the common frailty and miseries of mankind. He justly exclaims that the power of God’s wrath is immeasurably great. So long as God withholds his hand, men wantonly leap about like runaway slaves, who are no longer afraid at the sight of their master; nor can their rebellious nature be reduced to obedience in any other way than by his striking them with the fear of his judgment. The meaning then is, that whilst God hides himself, and, so to speak, dissembles his displeasure, men are inflated with pride, and rush upon sin with reckless impetuosity; but when they are compelled to feel how dreadful his wrath is, they forget their loftiness, and are reduced to nothing. What follows, According to thy fear, so is thy wrath, is commonly explained as denoting that the more a man is inspired with reverence towards God, the more severely and sternly is he commonly dealt with; for “judgment begins at the house of God,” (1 Peter 4:17.) Whilst he pampers the reprobate with the good things of this life, he wastes his chosen ones with continual troubles; and in short, “whom he loveth he chasteneth,” (Hebrews 12:6.) It is then a true and profitable doctrine that he deals more roughly with those who serve him than with the reprobate. But Moses, I think, has here a different meaning, which is, that it is a holy awe of God, and that alone, which makes us truly and deeply feel his anger. We see that the reprobate, although they are severely punished, only chafe upon the bit, or kick against God, or become exasperated, or are stupified, as if they were hardened against all calamities; so far are they from being subdued. And though they are full of trouble, and cry aloud, yet the Divine anger does not so penetrate their hearts as to abate their pride and fierceness. The minds of the godly alone are wounded with the wrath of God; nor do they wait for his thunderbolts, to which the reprobate hold out their hard and iron necks, but they tremble the very moment when God moves only his little finger. This I consider to be the true meaning of the prophet. He had said that the human mind could not sufficiently comprehend the dreadfulness of the Divine wrath. And we see how, although God shakes heaven and earth, many notwithstanding, like the giants of old, treat this with derision, and are actuated by such brutish arrogance, that they despise him when he brandishes his bolts. But as the Psalmist is treating of a doctrine which properly belongs to true believers, he affirms that they have a strongly sensitive feeling of the wrath of God which makes them quietly submit themselves to his authority. Although to the wicked their own conscience is a tormentor which does not suffer them to enjoy repose, yet so far is this secret dread from teaching them to humble themselves, that it excites them to clamor against God with increasing frowardness. In short, the faithful alone are sensible of God’s wrath; and being subdued by it, they acknowledge that they are nothing, and with true humility devote themselves wholly to Him. This is wisdom to which the reprobate cannot attain, because they cannot lay aside the pride with which they are inflated. They are not touched with the feeling of God’s wrath, because they do not stand in awe of him.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-90.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 90:11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, [so is] thy wrath.

Ver. 11. Who knoweth the power of thine anger?] None doth, since it is such as no man can either avoid or abide; and such is men’s stupidity, that few will believe till they feel it; no, though their lives be so short and uncertain.

Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath] Ira tua non est minor timore nostro; let a man tear thee never so much, he is sure to feel thee much more, if once he fall into thy fingers.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-90.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Psalms 90:11

I. When I consider the difficulties which lie in the way of our measuring the anger of God, I conclude that it is chiefly His steady and orderly goodness which has thrust His displeasure out of sight. So far as one can see from the present arrangements of the world, it is God's way to withdraw for the most part from our view the sterner features of His character, while He puts forward and emphasises everywhere His gracious and fruitful goodness. (1) The mere power or strength of God is itself rather concealed than thrust upon us. It hides itself behind the order within which He is pleased to exert it. (2) The extent to which God's strength might come to be at the service of His anger, and be used by Him to destroy, is still more closely veiled from us by the uniform beneficence of His creation. Only occasionally does nature suggest wrath. Her deliberate arrangements are all inspired by goodness. (3) The experience which we have had of God in our own lives is to the same effect; our bitter days we count upon our fingers, our happier ones by years. Judgment is God's strange work; but His tender mercies are over all His works.

II. By what line shall we fathom the unknown severity of Jehovah? Seeing that God intends His latent wrath to remain as yet concealed from us and hath Himself been at pains to conceal it, by what means shall we search it out? The writer of this Psalm puts into our hand a standard of comparison which, though insufficient, is at least approximative. The wrath of God, he says, is "according to His fear;" to His fearfulness, that is, or His fitness for inspiring in the bosoms of men an awful and sacred dread. Whatever suggests to our minds the enormous strength of God as against our weakness, suggests how terrific His wrath may be if He will. (1) Susceptible souls are sometimes under favourable conditions wrought to fear by the mere vastness, or mystery, or loneliness of God's material works. According to this fear of Him, so is His wrath. (2) The mass of men are too unimaginative or too stupid to be much moved by the mere sublimity of God's everyday creation. They need occasional outbursts of unwonted violence to prick their hearts to fear Him. In their coward hearts terror suggests judgment; and according to His fear, so is to them His wrath. (3) In order to estimate the capacity of wrath in the Almighty, we need to know more than His strength, more than His material terribleness. One event in history expresses to the full the moral terribleness of God. The Passion of Jesus Christ is the crown of all terrible things, and the supreme measure not only of God's mercy, but quite as really of God's severity. According to His fearfulness, so is His wrath.

J. Oswald Dykes, Sermons, p. 205.


Reference: Psalms 90:11.—H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2593.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/psalms-90.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 90:11. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? &c.— i.e. "In proportion to the fear and reverence which is due to thee, as the great Lord and Sovereign of the world; so may the transgressors of thy law expect their punishment." Something seems here intimated beyond the punishments of this world; for these are what men feel and experience. But who knows the dreadful punishments of a future? Well therefore is this reflection followed by a devout prayer, Psalms 90:12. So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom! meaning, no doubt, that wisdom, which alone is such, in the sense of Holy Scripture, the fearing God, and keeping his commandments; that so, by making a right use of this short, uncertain space of time allotted to us here, we may through grace prepare ourselves the better for a future state. The following verses to the end are equally suitable to the condition of the persons for whom they were intended. It evidently appears from what has been said, that the Israelites in the wilderness, when cut off from all hopes of an earthly Canaan, and the promises of this life, were not left destitute of better hopes, or without the knowledge of a Redeemer, and a life to come; and that God's leading them through this great and terrible wilderness, to humble them, and to prove them, that he might do them good (as he says himself) in their אחרית Acharith, must be understood, according to the most natural sense of the word, in their future state.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". 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

Who knoweth? few or none sufficiently apprehend it, or stedfastly believe it, or duly consider it, or are rightly affected with it. For all these things are comprehended under this word knoweth.

The power of thine anger; the greatness, and force, and dreadful effects of thine anger conceived against the sons of men, and in particular against thine own people, for their miscarriages.

According to thy fear, i.e. according to the fear of thee; as my fear is put for the fear of me, Malachi 1:6, and his knowledge for the knowledge of him, Isaiah 53:11. According to that fear or dread which sinful men have of a just and holy God. These fears of the Deity are not vain bugbears, and the effects of ignorance and folly or superstition, as heathens and atheists have sometimes said, but are just, and built upon solid grounds, and justified by the terrible effects of thy wrath upon mankind.

So is thy wrath; it bears full proportion to it, nay, indeed, doth far exceed it. It cannot be said of God’s wrath, which is said of death, that the fear of it is worse than the thing itself. But this verse is by many, both ancient and later interpreters, rendered otherwise, and that very agreeably to the Hebrew text, Who knoweth the power of thine anger, and thy wrath according to thy fear? i.e. either,

1. According to the fear of thee, or so as thou art to be feared, or answerably to thy terrible displeasure against sin and sinners. Or,


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". 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

11. Who knoweth—Who considers. The word implies a knowledge which leads to the avoidance of the cause of divine anger.

The power of thine anger—The effective force and terror of thy judgments.

According to thy fear—According to the fear due to thee; or, according to the terror which thou hast at times inspired in men. See Psalms 55:5; Psalms 66:3; Psalms 66:5; Ezekiel 1:18; John 1:10; John 1:16. Compare Hebrews 12:21.

So is thy wrath— So is the reality of thy judgments. “His terrors are not vain and empty; on the contrary, he will execute his threats on impenitent sinners, according as he has declared.”Phillips.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "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 90:11. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? — The greatness, and force, and dreadful effects of thine anger, conceived against the sons of men, and in particular against thine own people, for their sins? Few or none sufficiently apprehend it, or steadfastly believe it, or duly consider it, or are rightly affected with it: all which particulars are comprehended under this word knoweth. Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath — That is, as some interpret the words, “In proportion to the fear and reverence which are due to thee as the great Lord and Sovereign of the world, so may the transgressors of thy law expect their punishment.” Or, according to the fear and dread which sinful men have, or ought to have, of thee, a just and holy God, so is thy wrath. It bears full proportion to it, nay, indeed, far exceeds it. These fears of thee are not groundless apprehensions, the effects of ignorance and folly, or of superstition, as heathen and infidels have sometimes said, but are just, and built on solid grounds, and justified by the terrible effects of thy wrath upon ungodly men. Nor can it be ever said of thy wrath, as it is often said of death, that the fear of it is worse than the thing itself. Houbigant renders the words thus: Who knoweth, or considereth, the power of thine anger; and thy wrath, in proportion as thou art terrible? That is, in other words, “Notwithstanding all the manifestations of thine indignation against sin, which introduced death and every other calamity among men, who is there that knoweth, who that duly considereth and layeth to heart, the almighty power of that indignation?” Something seems evidently intimated here beyond the punishments of sin in this world; for these are what men feel and experience. But who knows the dreadful punishments of a future world? Well, therefore, is this reflection followed by a devout prayer in the next verse. For the knowledge and consideration here intended are the gift of God.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-90.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Angels. Many seem to be assigned to the just, to whom St. Hilary, &c., would restrain this privilege. But it is more generally believed, that each person has an angel guardian. This was the opinion even of the pagans. (Porphyrius, Ap. ii.; Clement of Alexandria, Strom. v.) (Calmet) --- To keep. Instead of this, the tempter substituted and, (Matthew iv. 6.) finding it would not answer his purpose, (Haydock) and shed that the question was about walking, and not about precipitating oneself. (St. Bernard, ser. xv. p. 90.) --- To attempt such unusual courses, is the way of Lucifer, (Worthington) and tempting God, as our Saviour replied. (Berthier) --- From the father of lies, heretics have learnt how to curtail and misapply the holy Scriptures. (Haydock) --- God has highly favoured man, by intrusting him to the care of these sublime ministers of his court, (St. Bernard) and surely it is lawful for us to implore their assistance, as we may apply to our fellow-creatures for redress in our temporal necessities. To refuse to do so, on the plea that we expect all immediately from God, would be going contrary to his appointment. Else why has God given them for our guardians, since He could have done all without them? In vain is it objected, that this invocation is a religious worship. It may be so styled, because they are blessed, and help us to obtain salvation. But we only honour in the the gifts of God. (Berthier) --- They protect us by his ordinance, (Worthington) and the very form of praying, shews in what light we regard them. Who durst say to God, pray for us? (Menochius)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-90.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

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.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-90.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-90.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
Leviticus 26:18,21,24,28; Deuteronomy 28:59; 29:20-29; Isaiah 33:14; Nahum 1:6; Luke 12:5; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Revelation 6:17

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 90:11". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-90.html.

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