corner graphic

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 90:4

 

 

For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.

Adam Clarke Commentary

For a thousand years in thy sight - As if he had said, Though the resurrection of the body may be a thousand (or any indefinite number of) years distant; yet, when these are past, they are but as yesterday, or a single thatch of the night. They pass through the mind in a moment, and appear no longer in their duration than the time required by the mind to reflect them by thought. But, short as they appear to the eye of the mind, they are nothing when compared with the eternity of God! The author probably has in view also that economy of Divine justice and providence by which the life of man has been shortened from one thousand years to threescore years and ten, or fourscore.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-90.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For a thousand years in thy sight - Hebrew, “In thy eyes;” that is, It so appears to thee - or, a thousand years so seem to thee, however long they may appear to man. The utmost length to which the life of man has reached - in the case of Methuselah - was nearly a thousand years Genesis 5:27; and the idea here is, that the longest human life, even if it should be lengthened out to a thousand years, would be in the sight of God, or in comparison with his years, but as a single day.

Are but as yesterday when it is past - Margin, “he hath passed them.” The translation in the text, however, best expresses the sense. The reference is to a single day, when we call it to remembrance. However long it may have appeared to us when it was passing, yet when it is gone, and we look back to it, it seems short. So the longest period of human existence appears to God.

And as a watch in the night - This refers to a portion of the night - the original idea having been derived from the practice of dividing the night into portions, during which a watch was placed in a camp. These watches were, of course, relieved at intervals, and the night came to be divided, in accordance with this arrangement, into parts corresponding with these changes. Among the ancient Hebrews there were only three night-watches; the first, mentioned in Lamentations 2:19; the middle, mentioned in Judges 7:19; and the third, mentioned in Exodus 14:24; 1 Samuel 11:11. In later times - the times referred to in the New Testament - there were four such watches, after the manner of the Romans, Mark 13:35. The idea here is not that such a watch in the night would seem to pass quickly, or that it would seem short when it was gone, but that a thousand years seemed to God not only short as a day when it was past, but even as the parts of a day, or the divisions of a night when it was gone.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-90.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 90:4

For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

God’s estimate of time

1. Let us set this truth before our minds: that which seems a long season to man seems a very brief season to God.

2. I proceed to point out the practical uses of this truth.

The long day of God

With the Deity, such a vast existence indicates only vast events. And these events must necessarily assume the form of a progress in which the present shall become the cause of the morrow, for any other method would either make eternity a monotone, or else a reckless succession like the results of chance, the throwing of dice, or the forms assumed in the kaleidoscope. In ages and centuries where the mind has become aroused into that action which is called civilization, it is utterly impossible to believe in God except as being the Supreme Activity. Assuming, then, this Divine activity, we may the more readily assert that the endless events of this God will assume the form of a progress. This assumption of a universal law is justified by the fact proclaimed in many special laws. The acorn passes to leaf, to twig, to bush, to sapling, to tree, to the great monarch of the forest. In its long life each year is a progress, each day being the cause in part of the next day. Its second year so multiplies the leaves that they breathe in a double quantity of air in behalf of the third year, and the roots of the second year so redouble the nutriment on hand that they also order an advance of the whole plant for the next springtime. All that we see around us in the organic form is acting under a law of progress, hence it does not seem hasty if we conclude that all the events coming from the Divine activity are occurring in the form of a progression, the present being a result of the past and a cause of the future. If, as we all believe, man is an image of the Creator, we may read in the human mind a confirmation of the idea that God is expressing Himself in a continuous series of events, for in such a career only does man, God’s image, find happiness. The idea that God once acted should be crowded out by the idea that He is now acting. The world is a chain in which all the links are equally valuable, because each one is an inseparable part--a part without which there is no value in the chain. Hence you stand as much in the presence of God to-day as stood the earth when God was planting the Garden of Eden for the first sons of man. It may be that the external world, with all its forms and laws, is nothing else than the spiritual God, expressing Himself in visible and audible and tangible forms, in order that our souls may possess some outward revelation of the Deity. The light that makes myriads of colours, the sound that is divided up into music, the height and depth that are emblems to us of infinity, the grandeur of the “star depths,” and the millions of years consumed in their orbits, may be the only ladders upon which our humble feet can climb to any belief in a God. The laws of the universe, instead of concealing a God, do reveal Him, for they are the footprints of One whose form cannot otherwise be traced As the delicate wire of Franklin revealed an agency of which he had only dreamed--as it became a Jacob’s ladder upon which the invisible angels came down from the clouds--so the whole material world must be concluded as the path where God bursts from His invisible spirit-life out upon the sight of His children. Hence the laws of Nature are not indications that there is no God, or that there once was, but they are the places and the times when and where this Creator continually confesses His presence. The “thousand-year” day of God seems to argue that His children will not be limited to the earthly mornings and evenings, but will rise to where they can, like their Heavenly Father, see the past and the present, rise to where the love and memory dimmed by a few years have many returns to the souls torn asunder in this vale. If in God’s sight the children of earth stand near together, so that Paul and Wesley mingle their eloquence, and Magdalen and Guyon mingle their love, and Lovejoy and Lincoln their liberty and blood, then this “thousand-year” day which so mingles things separated on earth should be man’s day also beyond the tomb, that there, in blest companionship, souls may meet which toiled here for one end, but who never saw the faces about to follow them, nor saw the golden harvest destined to spring from their blood and tears. If to God the graves of Paul and Fenelon, of Magdalen and the Dairyman’s Daughter, of Lovejoy and Wiberforce, are all close together; under the same flowers and same Divine presence, there should be a realm beyond where those sleeping souls should wake to consciousness of their blended lives. (D. Swing.)


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

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 90:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-90.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday,.... Which may be said to obviate the difficulty in man's return, or resurrection, from the dead, taken from the length of time in which some have continued in the grave; which vanishes, when it is observed, that in thy sight, esteem, and account of God, a thousand years are but as one day; and therefore, should a man lie in the grave six or seven thousand years, it would be but as so many days with God; wherefore, if the resurrection is not incredible, as it is not, length of time can be no objection to it. Just in the same manner is this phrase used by the Apostle Peter, and who is thought to refer to this passage, to remove an objection against the second coming of Christ, taken from the continuance of things as they had been from the beginning, and from the time of the promise of it: see 2 Peter 3:4, though the words aptly express the disproportion there is between the eternal God and mortal man; for, was he to live a thousand years, which no man ever did, yet this would be as yesterday with God, with whom eternity itself is but a day, Isaiah 43:13, man is but of yesterday, that has lived the longest; and were he to live a thousand years, and that twice told, it would be but "as yesterday when it is past"; though it may seem a long time to come, yet when it is gone it is as nothing, and can never be fetched back again:

and as a watch in the night; which was divided sometimes into three, and sometimes into four parts, and so consisted but of three or four hours; and which, being in the night, is spent in sleep; so that, when a man wakes, it is but as a moment with him; so short is human life, even the longest, in the account of God; See Gill on Matthew 14:25.


Copyright Statement
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 90:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-90.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

e For a thousand years in thy sight [are but] as yesterday when it is past, and [as] a watch in the night.

(e) Though man thinks his life is long, which is indeed most short, yet though it were a thousand years, yet in God's sight it is as nothing, and as the watch that lasts only three hours.

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

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-90.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Even were our days now a thousand years, as Adam‘s, our life would be but a moment in God‘s sight (2 Peter 3:8).

a watch — or, third part of a night (compare Exodus 14:24).


Copyright Statement
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 90:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-90.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Past — Indeed time seems long when it is to come, but when it is past, very short and contemptible.

A watch — Which lasted but three or four hours.


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 90:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-90.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight [are but] as yesterday when it is past, and [as] a watch in the night.

Ver. 4. For a thousand years in thy sight, &c.] q.d. Live men a longer or shorter space, Serius aut citius, thou endest their days; and in comparison of thine eternity, Puncture est quod vivimus et puncto minus, it is a small span of time that the longest liver hath upon earth, 2 Peter 3:8, Psalms 39:5. Non multum sane abest a nihilo. Some would hence infer, that the day of judgment shall last a thousand years; fides sit penes authores.

When it is past] We judge better of the shortness of time, when it is past.

And as a watch in the night] Which is but three hours’ time; for soldiers divide the night into four watches, and our life is full of the darkness of error and terror.


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

Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-90.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

A thousand years, if we should now live so long, as some of our progenitors well nigh did. As he compared man’s duration with God’s in respect of its beginning, Psalms 90:2, so here he compareth them in respect of the end or continuance.

In thy sight; in thy account, and therefore in truth; which is opposed to the partial and false judgment of men, who think time long because they do not understand eternity; or in comparison of thy endless duration.

When it is past; which is emphatically added; because time seems long when it is to come, but when it is past, and men look backward upon it, it seems very short and contemptible, and men value one hour to come more than a thousand years which are past.

A watch, which lasted but for three or four hours; for the night was anciently divided into three or four watches. See Jude 7:19 Mark 6:48 13:35 Luke 12:38.

In the night; which also hath its weight; for the silence and slumbers of the night make time seem shorter than it doth in the day.


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

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". 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

4. A thousand years—Longer than the life of Adam or Methuselah.

Yesterday when it is past—Which we remember but indifferently, and only by the few commonplace events which transpired.

Watch in the night—A synonyme of brevity. On the Hebrew watches, see on Psalms 63:6


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

Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "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 90:4. For a thousand years — If we should now live so long, (as some of our progenitors nearly did,) in thy sight — In thy account, and therefore in truth; which is opposed to the partial and false judgment of men, who think time long because they do not understand eternity; or, in comparison of thy endless duration, are but as yesterday, when it is past — Which is emphatically added, because time seems long when it is to come, but when it is passed, and men look back upon it, it seems very short and contemptible. And as a watch in the night — Which lasted but three or four hours.


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

Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-90.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

With. Septuagint, "upon." St. Augustine, "between," as the Lord carried Israel, Deuteronomy xxxii. 11. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "he will cover thee with his feathers," (Haydock) like an eagle. (Menochius)


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

Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-90.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

a thousand years. Compare 2 Peter 3:8.


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

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

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. The "For" introduces the reason which establishes the speedy mortality of man, alleged in Psalms 90:3. To us, men a life of 70 years in prospect seems of immense length. But let us view this the natural term of life with the eyes of God: let us regard time not as those who belong merely to time, but, as God, from the standpoint of eternity, then how short, how soon gone does such a brief span seem! "For (not to say seventy or eighty years, even) a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday!" God sees our life in its true brevity, such as one day, and that day just past, is to man. Nay, it is but as the night watch, which to those who are asleep appears as but a moment. The day, divided as is into times of varied occupation, seems comparatively long; but the night watch passes while we are unconscious. The night was anciently divided into three watches. The middle watch is mentioned in Judges 7:19; the morning watch in Exodus 14:24; which proves this division of the night to be as old as Moses. It is not the eternal years of God that are directly brought forward in contrast to show the shortness of man's life; but the latter is shown by contrasting long life as it appears man's eyes, and as it appears in the eyes of God: though no doubt it is because God is eternal that even a thousand years (which are so much, beyond man's span) appear so short to Him. 'As to a very rich man a thousand sovereigns are as one penny, so to the eternal God a thousand years are as one day' (Bengel). So 2 Peter 3:8.


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

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-90.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) A thousand years.—This verse, which, when Peter II. was written (see New Testament Commentary), had already begun to receive an arithmetical treatment, and to be made the basis for Millennarian computations, merely contrasts the unchangeableness and eternity of the Divine existence and purpose with the vicissitudes incident to the brief life of man. To One who is from the infinite past to the infinite future, and Whose purpose runs through the ages, a thousand years are no more than a yesterday to man:

“And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death;”

or even as a part of the night passed in sleep:

“A thousand years, with Thee they are no more

Than yesterday, which, ere it is, is spent.

Or, as a watch by night, that course doth keep,

And goes and comes, unwares to them that sleep.”

FRANCIS BACON.

The exact rendering of the words translated in the Authorised Version, “when it passeth,” is doubtful. The LXX. have, “which has passed;” and the Syriac supports this rendering. For the “night watches,” see Note, Psalms 63:6.


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

Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-90.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
For
2 Peter 3:8
is past
or, when he hath passed them. and as.
Matthew 14:25; 24:43; Luke 12:38

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

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-90.html.

To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology