90:0These are ‘words that Moses prayed.’ That does not mean that Moses wrote the psalm. Some Bible students think that he did. Other students think that later writers used words and ideas from ‘the Books of Moses.’ These are the first 5 books of the Bible. This psalm makes Bible students think of Genesis 3 and Deuteronomy 32. The psalm uses ‘words that Moses’ said, from these books.
The psalm is in 4 parts. The first 3 parts are in verses 1-12. They could be about anybody in the world. They are true for all of us. But the last part, verses 13-17, is about God's people, the Jews. Something bad had happened to them. They are praying that God will be good to them. We do not know what this bad thing was. Some Bible students think that it was when the Babylonians beat them and took them to Babylon. We call this ‘the exile.’ But it could be anything after the time of Moses!
God will Always be Alive!
90:0In this psalm, there are 3 words for God: Lord, Lord and God. They are 3 different words in the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew is the language that the Jews spoke when they wrote the psalms. Jews are people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children. In verses 1 and 17, there is the word Lord. This means ‘master’, someone with authority. It translates the Hebrew word ‘Adonai.’ In verse 13, there is Lord, with 4 capital letters. This translates ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah.’ It means ‘I am.’ This tells us that God is always alive. In verses 2 and 17, there is the word God. This translates ‘Elohim.’ It is a plural word; it means ‘the powerful rulers that have authority.’
The psalm is in 4 parts:
– Verses 1-2 start the psalm and tell us about God. They tell us that God has always been alive and always will be alive.
– Verses 3-6 tell us that people on earth will not always be alive. Life is short!
– Verses 7-11 tell us this: The people that wrote the psalm have not obeyed God's rules.
– Verses 12-17 tell us that these people are praying to God for him to be kind to them.
These are words that Moses prayed.
He was a servant of God.
1 Lord, you have always been as a home for us.
90:1In verse 1, ‘a home for us’ means a place that we can always go to. In John 14:2 it says, ‘I (Jesus) am going to make a place for you.’ Jesus meant the place we go to when we die. But we can always go to God while we are still alive on the earth wherever we are. God will be with us if we ask him.
2 You were God before the mountains were born.
You were God before you were as a mother to the earth and the world.
You always were and you always will be God.
90:2Verse 2 sees God as a mother. He has children – the earth and the world. The world is that part of the earth where people live. This tells us in special words (poetry) that God made (created) the world.
3 You make people go back to being powder in the ground when they die.
You say, ‘Go back to the ground, sons of Adam.’
90:3In verse 3, there are two things that make us think about Genesis 2-3:
– ‘Powder in the ground.’ Another word for this is ‘dust.’ Genesis tells us that God made (created) men and women from dust.
– ‘Adam’ was the first man that God made. We are all ‘sons of Adam.’ We could translate this ‘all men and women.’
4 For you see a thousand years as just a day that passes.
The years are as a few hours in the night when they are over.
90:4In verse 4, ‘a thousand years’ here may again make us think of the beginning of Genesis. Men and women then lived for a very long time. Methuselah was nearly a thousand years old when he died! The verse means this: What is a very long time to us is a short time to God.
5 You pour the sleep of death on them the sons of Adam.
They become as new grass in the morning.
90:5Verse 5: The Bible talks about death as ‘sleep.’ One day, after we die, we will all awake – and see God!
6 In the morning, it grows well;
but by the evening, it becomes dry and it dies.
90:6Verse 6: Grass in Israel did not grow for long. It soon died. The psalm tells us that people are the same. God will always be alive, but men and women will soon die.
7 You destroy us because you are angry.
Because you are so angry, you make us very much afraid.
90:7Verse 7: The Bible tells us that ‘God is a light, and nothing in him is dark’, (1 John 1:5). This verse tells us that this light lets God sees the wrong things that we do, even the secret wrong things!
8 You see in front of you the wrong things that we do.
Your light even shows the secret bad things that we do!
9 All our days hurry past because you are angry with us.
We finish our years in just the time it takes for a cry.
90:9Verse 9: Because God is angry with us, our lives seem to go very fast. ‘Just a cry’ means ‘just the time it takes to cry.’
10 The number of our days is 70 years,
or maybe 80 years if we are strong.
Yet, even in the best years of our lives,
we have trouble and we are not really happy.
And they soon go and we hurry away towards death.
11 Lord, who knows how strong you are when you are very angry?
The people that you frighten when you become so angry will know.
90:11Verse 11: Here is a question and an answer. The verse means that everybody will know when God becomes angry.
12 Teach us to count well our days.
Then we will get a heart that thinks as God thinks.
90:12Verse 12: An important Christian word is repent. Often people tell us that it means this: We are sorry for the wrong things that we have done. This is true. But it means more than this. It means that we see things as God sees them. This makes us want to obey his rules and not do wrong things again. We think as God thinks. The verse says we ‘will get a heart that thinks as God thinks.’ This is because the Jews believed that you thought in your heart! They also thought that you loved with your stomach! We call this a ‘Jewish thought’ or a ‘Jewish idiom.’
13 Lord, how long will it be until you change your mind?
Be kind to your servants!
90:13Verse 13: Some English translations say, ‘Lord, how long will it be until you repent?’ This uses the word ‘repent’ in its proper way as ‘think again.’ It does not mean that God is sorry for what he has done!
14 Give us your kind love every morning.
Then we will sing and be happy for as long as we live.
90:14Verse 14: ‘Kind love’ is a special word in Hebrew. It is ‘chesed.’ It means the love that God goes on giving us, even when we do not obey him. That is why the psalm says ‘every morning.’ God never stops loving us!
15 Make us happy for as long as you have hurt us.
Make us happy for as many years as we have had trouble.
90:15Verse 15: There are some words in this verse that only come in Deuteronomy 32:7 and here in the Hebrew Bible. Moses wrote these words! That is why some people think that Moses wrote Psalm 90.
16 Let us your servants see the work that you do.
And show how great you are to our children.
90:16Verse 16: ‘The work that you do’ means ‘what God does to make his people safe.’ He stops their enemies hurting the Jews. Then the children will see it too.
17 Let the Lord our God show how happy he is with us.
Let him make the work that our hands do continue.
Let the work that our hands do continue.
90:17Verse 17: This is how the Lord will show that he is happy. Nobody will destroy the things that his people do. They will always be there!