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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 90:8

 

 

You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee - Every one of our transgressions is set before thee; noted and minuted down in thy awful register!

Our secret sins - Those committed in darkness and privacy are easily discovered by thee, being shown by the splendours of thy face shining upon them. Thus we light a candle, and bring it into a dark place to discover its contents. O, what can be hidden from the allseeing eye of God? Darkness is no darkness to him; wherever he comes there is a profusion of light - for God is light!


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-90.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee - Thou hast arrayed them, or brought them forth to view, as a “reason” in thy mind for cutting us down. Death may be regarded as proof that God has brought before his mind the evidence of man‘s guilt, and has passed sentence accordingly. The fact of death at all; the fact that anyone of the race dies; the fact that human life has been made so brief, is to be explained on the supposition that God has arrayed before his own mind the reality of human depravity, and has adopted this as an illustration of his sense of the evil of guilt.

Our secret sins - literally, “our secret;” or, that which was concealed or unknown. This may refer to the secret or hidden things of our lives, or to what has been concealed in our own bosoms; and the meaning may be, that God has judged in the case not by external appearances, or by what is seen by the world, but by what “he” has seen in the heart, and that he deals with us according to our real character. The reference is, indeed, to sin, but sin as concealed, hidden, forgotten; the sin of the heart; the sin which we have endeavored to hide from the world; the sin which has passed away from our own recollection.

In the light of thy countenance - Directly before thee; in full view; so that thou canst see them all. In accordance with these, thou judgest man, and hence, his death.


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-90.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 90:8

Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.

Sin estimated by the light of heaven

God and men view objects through a very different medium, and are placed with respect to them in very different situations. God is present with every object; He views it as near, and therefore sees its real magnitude. But many objects, especially those of a religious nature, are seen by us at a distance, and of course appear to us smaller than they really are. God sees all objects just as they are; but we see them through a deceitful medium, which ignorance, prejudice and self-love place between them and us. If you are willing to see your sins in their true colours; if you would rightly estimate their number, magnitude and criminality, bring them into the hallowed place, where nothing is seen but the whiteness of unsullied purity, and the splendours of uncreated glory; where the sun itself would appear only as a dark spot, and there, in the midst of this circle of seraphic intelligences, with the infinite God pouring all the light of His countenance round you, review your lives, contemplate your offences, and see how they appear.

I. Bring forward our iniquities, that is, our more gross and open sins, and see how they appear in the light of God’s countenance. Have any of you been guilty of impious, profane, passionate, or indecent, corrupting language? How does such language sound in heaven? in the ears of angels, in the ears of that God, who gave us our tongues for noble purposes? Have any of you been guilty of uttering what is untrue? If so, bring forward all the falsehoods, all the deceitful expressions, which you have ever uttered, and see how they appear in the presence of the God of truth. Have any of you been guilty, either at home, or in foreign countries, of perjury, or false swearing? If so, you may here see the awful Being whom you mocked, by calling Him to witness the truth of a known deliberate lie. And how, think you, such conduct appears in His eyes? Have any of you been guilty of fraud, injustice, or dishonesty? If so, bring forward your dishonest gains; hold out the hands which are polluted by them, and see how they look in heaven, in the presence of that God, who has said, Let no man overreach or defraud his brother in any matter; for the Lord is the avenger of all such.

II. Bring our hearts into heaven, and there, laying them open to view, see how they will appear in that world of unclouded light, and unsullied purity. Surely, if all the evil thoughts and wrong feelings which have passed in countless numbers through either of our hearts, were poured out in heaven, angels would stand aghast at the sight, and all their benevolence would scarcely prevent them from exclaiming in holy indignation, Away with him to the abode of his kindred spirits in the abyss! To the omniscient God alone would the sight not be surprising.

III. Take a similar view of our sins of omission. Our whole lives present one unbroken series of duties neglected, of favours not acknowledged. And, oh, how do they appear, when we review them in the light of God’s countenance! But the duties which we owe to God are not the only duties which we are required, and which we have neglected to perform. His law also requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves. And this general command virtually includes a great number of subordinate precepts; precepts which prescribe the duties of the various relations that subsist between us and our fellow-creatures. And how far have we obeyed these precepts? Oh, how much more might we have done than we actually have done, to promote the temporal and eternal happiness of all with whom we are connected! Nor do our sins of omission end here. There is another Being whom we are under infinite obligations to love, and praise, and serve with supreme affection. This Being is the Lord Jesus Christ, considered as our Redeemer and Saviour who has bought us with His own blood. We are required to feel that we are not our own, but His; to prefer Him to every earthly object. Every moment, then, in which we neglected to obey these commands, we were guilty of a new sin of omission. (E. Payson, D.D.)

All sin committed under the eye of God

I. Sin is inward and outward lawlessness. It is disloyalty in heart and life. A black and bitter thing leading to black and bitter consequences.

II. Men commonly attempt to conceal their sin.

1. From themselves--and will hardly admit that some evil deeds are sins under their peculiar circumstances.

2. From society generally.

3. From God Himself, who sees and knows their sins in all their enormity and aggravated character.

III. In attempting to conceal their sins men are doomed to complete failure. They are already “before Thee”--even “our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.”

1. It is so with all our personal sins.

2. With family sins.

3. With Church sins.

4. With national sins.

IV. To attempt to hide sin is to commit further and deeper sin.

1. Against ourselves--deeply injuring our moral nature.

2. Against our fellows--lowering the moral tone of society.

3. Against God--who is increasingly wronged and outraged.

V. Men ought to acknowledge their sin. Private sin. Public sin. All sin of every kind and character should be penitently confessed to God. “Thou hast,” etc.

VI. God has a complete knowledge of all sin committed against Him. It is in the very light of His countenance.

1. We have only a partial knowledge of sin,--in ourselves, in our friends, in society generally.

2. We have dim and imperfect conceptions of sin at best; for human lights are always changing, but God sees sin in itself and in the light of His own countenance, which never disguises evil.

3. We cannot prevent God seeing and knowing our sin. He Himself places it before His own eyes in all its nakedness and reality. What, therefore, must be the ultimate shame and misery of those who persist in sin? Therefore repent and believe the Gospel. (W. Unsworth.)

Secret things brought to light

If you were to take this church, as it is in ordinary daylight, and seek to inspect the secret impurities with which its atmosphere abounds, your sight would be unable to detect them. It would be the same if in broad daylight you were to examine the cleanest drawing-room in the cleanest house in this city; the sight would detect no uncleanliness in its atmosphere, it would appear perfectly pure. But now let a bright ray of sunlight stream through the church or through the drawing-room. Look into the beam! What do you see? Why, a new world: a multitude of motes, innumerable particles of dust, vast quantities of impure matter all floating about in the atmosphere which seemed so clean! In the broad, common light they lay concealed, but in the bright, sunny beam the secret things are discovered, and live and move before our gaze. Are there any secret things in our worship which need to be revealed? Do we worship in the light of God’s countenance, or in the light of mere tradition and custom? What more sweet and beautiful than the bringing of a gift to place upon God’s altar! It seems so spiritually pure and sound. We often regard it as a sign of moral and spiritual health. But worship is not so superficial a thing that it can be so superficially judged. Worship which may pass muster in a worldly light reveals its impurities in a more searching spiritual light. Every worshipper who passes into the light of God’s countenance is met by this bold challenge, “Has thy brother aught against thee?” and that is a challenge which searches us through and through. “First, be reconciled to thy brother.” Our secret relationships are held up in vivid clearness before us, and their rectification is an essential condition in all acceptable worship. Now let us pass from our worship to our social fellowship. Look at the dim, thick light in which social life is lived. The darkness is sufficiently tempered to enable us to detect prominent crimes, presumptuous sins--outrage, murder, and obtrusive forms of lust. But in this dim, thick light how much can be concealed, how many deformities, how many crooked dispositions, how many perverse purposes, how many malicious designs, how many revengeful spirits! Social life is poor because social light is dim. If we water a stronger social life we must have an intenser light, in which secret uncleanness will rise up to be judged. Here is a ray from God’s countenance (Matthew 5:39). Flash that through social life, let that light play on our relationships; would any horrible crookedness be revealed? It is not a business motto. It is not a social maxim. Here is rather the maxim of the world, “Pay a man back in his own coin.” A man can do that and not violate the current standard of social morality. He may do it and yet live up to social light. But if such action will satisfy society, it does not satisfy God. “Pay a man back in his own coin!” That is not how the great God pays us! (Psalms 103:10). That was not the way of Christ (1 Peter 2:23). That was not Paul’s way (1 Corinthians 4:12). The Lord purposes for us a clean, sweet, wholesome, social life, free from all secret foulnesses, and we can only obtain it by permitting the light of His countenance to fall upon us, and bringing our life into conformity with its great requirements. There is a bright side to all this, and I want to close with a gentle and encouraging word. The light which thus brings into prominence the secret sins also brings into prominence the secret virtue. The good Lord takes the candle and sweeps the house, not just to find the dust, but find the piece of silver! No bit of silver is lost. Every bit of secret goodness is seen in the light of His countenance. (J. H. Jowett, M.A.)


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 90:8". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-90.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Thou hast set our sins before thee,.... The cause of all trouble, consumption, and death; these are before the Lord, as the evidence, according to which he as a righteous Judge proceeds; this is opposed to the pardon of sin, which is expressed by a casting it behind his back, Isaiah 38:17,

our secret sins in the light of thy countenance; the Targum and Jarchi interpret it of the sins of youth; the word is in the singular number, and may be rendered, "our secret sin"F6עלמנו "mostrum absconditum", Montanus; "sive occultum", Vatablus, Muis, Michaelis. ; which has led some to think of original sin, which is hidden from, and not taken notice of by, the greatest part of the world, though it is the source and spring of all sin. It is not unusual for the singular to be put for the plural, and may intend all such sins as are secretly committed, and not known by other men, and such as are unobserved by men themselves; as the evil thoughts of their hearts, the foolish words of their mouths, and many infirmities of life, that are not taken notice of as sins: these are all known to God, and will be brought to light and into judgment by him, and will be set in "the light of his countenance"; which denotes not a gracious forgiveness of them, but his clear and distinct knowledge of them, and what a full evidence they give against men, to their condemnation and death; and intends not only a future, but the present view the Lord has of them, and his dealings with men in life, and at death, according to them.


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 90:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-90.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

Hast set — Thou dost observe them, as a righteous judge, and art calling us to an account for them.

Secret sins — Which though hid from the eyes of men, thou hast brought to light by thy judgments.


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 90:8". "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

8Thou hast set our iniquities before thee. To show that by this complaint he is far from intending to murmur against God, he asserts that the Divine anger, however terrible it had been, was just, inasmuch as the people had provoked it by their iniquities; for those who, when stricken by the Divine hand, are not brought to genuine humiliation, harden themselves more and more. The true way to profit, and also to subdue our pride, is to feel that He is a righteous judge. Accordingly Moses, after having briefly taught that men by nature vanish away like smoke, gathers from thence that it is not to be wondered at if God exanimates and consumes those whom he pursues with his wrath. The manner of the expression by which God is described as showing the tokens of his anger is to be observed — he sets the iniquities of men before his eyes Hence it follows, that whatever intermission of punishment we experience ought in justice to be ascribed to the forbearance of. God, who buries our sins that he may spare us. The word עלומים, alumim, which I have rendered our secret sins, is translated by some, our youth; (567) as if Moses had said that the faults committed in youth are brought to remembrance. But this is too forced, and inconsistent with the scope of the passage; for it would destroy the contrast between secret sins and the light of God’s countenance, by which Moses intimates that men hide themselves in darkness, and wrap themselves in many deceits, so long as God does not shine upon them with the light of his judgment; whereas, when he draws them back from their subterfuges, by which they endeavor to escape from him, and sets before his eyes the sins which they hide by hypocrisy, being subdued by fear and dread, they are brought sincerely to humble themselves before him.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-90.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 90:8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret [sins] in the light of thy countenance.

Ver. 8. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee] As a judge doth the misdeeds of a malefactor, together with the proofs and evidences.

Our secret sins] Which we either never took notice of or had utterly forgotten (the sins of our youth, some render it, but not so well), those sins which we had hoped to have secreted, such was our hypocrisy.

In the light of thy countenance] This light thou hast made use of for the discovery of our inmost evils, those that lie most up in the heart of the country, as it were, as the murmurings and misbelief of our hearts, &c., these thy pure eyes, more clear and radiant than the sun itself, have plainly discerned. Nature teacheth us that the fiery eye needeth no outward light, but seeth extramittendo, by sending out a ray, &c.


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

Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-90.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Thou dost not now cover, or blot out, or pass by our sins, as thou hast usually done to thy people; but thou dost diligently search them out, and accurately observe them, as a severe but righteous Judge, and art now calling us to an account for them.

Our secret sins thou dost not only punish us for our notorious and scandalous sins, which thine honour may seem to oblige thee to do, but even for our secret lusts, the murmuring, and unbelief, and apostacy, and idolatry of our hearts; which though hid from the eyes of men, thou hast set before thine eyes, and brought them to light by thy judgments.


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

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". 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

8. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee—Thou hast called up our sins for judgment. “God sets transgressions before him, when, because the measure is full and forgiveness inadmissible, he makes them an object of punishment.”Delitzsch.

Our secret sins—Sins of the heart, as distinct from overt acts; or, sins committed under cover from human eyes, as Numbers 5:12-13; or, sins of ignorance. Leviticus 4:22-35; Psalms 19:12.

In the light of thy countenance—In the luminary of thy face. The word rendered “light,” in the common version, is luminary, that which causes lighta luminous body. The difference between diffused light and a luminous body is given Genesis 1:3; Genesis 1:14. “Countenance,” in the text, is simply in opposition with luminary. The figure represents God’s “countenance” as a burning sun, into which no human eye can steadily look, and our secret sins are detected by it.


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

Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-90.html. 1874-1909.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

iniquities. Hebrew. "avah. App-44.

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


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

Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-90.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) Our secret sins.—Or, to keep the singular of the original, our secret (character).

The expression, “light of God’s countenance,” usually means “favour.” But here the word rendered light is not the usual one employed in that expression, but rather means a body of light: “the sun (or eye) of Thy countenance.” Comp.:

“Then Seeva opened on the accursed one

His eye of anger.”

SOUTHEY: Curse of Kehama,


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

Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-90.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
Thou
10:11; 50:21; 139:1-4; Job 34:21; Jeremiah 9:13-16; 16:17; 23:24; Ezekiel 8:12; Revelation 20:12
our
19:12; Proverbs 5:21; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Luke 12:1,2; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Hebrews 4:12,13; 1 John 3:20
in the
80:16

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-90.html.

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

Psalm 90:8

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

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

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


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

Bibliography
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 90:8". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/psalms-90.html.

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