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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Chapter 90
Chapter 90

The foregoing psalm is supposed to have been penned as late as the captivity in Babylon; this, it is plain, was penned as early as the deliverance out of Egypt, and yet they are put close together in this collection of divine songs. This psalm was penned by Moses (as appears by the title), the most ancient penman of sacred writ. We have upon record a praising song of his (Exod. 15:1-21, which is alluded to Rev. 15:3), and an instructing song of his, Deut. 32:1-47 But this is of a different nature from both, for it is called a prayer. It is supposed that this psalm was penned upon occasion of the sentence passed upon Israel in the wilderness for their unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion, that their carcases should fall in the wilderness, that they should be wasted away by a series of miseries for thirty-eight years together, and that none of them that were then of age should enter Canaan. This was calculated for their wanderings in the wilderness, as that other song of Moses (Deut. 31:19, 21) was for their settlement in Canaan. We have the story to which this psalm seems to refer, Num. 14:1-45 Probably Moses penned this prayer to be daily used, either by the people in their tents, or, at lest, by the priests in the tabernacle-service, during their tedious fatigue in the wilderness. In it, I. Moses comforts himself and his people with the eternity of God and their interest in him, Ps. 90:1, 2. II. He humbles himself and his people with the consideration of the frailty of man, Ps. 90:3-6. III. He submits himself and his people to the righteous sentence of God passed upon them, Ps. 90:7-11. IV. He commits himself and his people to God by prayer for divine mercy and grace, and the return of God’s favour, Ps. 90:12-17. Though it seems to have been penned upon this particular occasion, yet it is very applicable to the frailty of human life in general, and, in singing it, we may easily apply it to the years of our passage through the wilderness of this world, and it furnishes us with meditations and prayers very suitable to the solemnity of a funeral.