1 [A Prayer of Moses the Man of God.] Lord, you have been our dwelling-place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or before you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
3 You turn man to destruction and say, "Return, you children of men."
4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past and as a watch in the night.
5 You carry them away as with a flood. They are as a dream. In the morning they are like grass which grows.
6 In the morning it flourishes and grows. In the evening it is cut down and withers.
7 For we are consumed by your anger, and by your wrath we are troubled.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
9 For all our days are passed away in your wrath. We spend our years as a tale that is told.
10 The days of our years are seventy years. And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their strength is labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of your anger? Even according to your fear, so is your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days so that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
13 Return, O LORD, how long? And repent concerning your servants.
14 O satisfy us early with your mercy so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days in which you have afflicted us and the years in which we have seen evil.
16 Let your work appear to your servants and your glory to their children.
17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us. And establish the work of our hands upon us. Yes, the work of our hands, establish it.
John Calvin's Chapter Summary:
As Moses is about to treat as well of the brevity and miseries of human life, as of the punishments inflicted upon the people of Israel, in order to minister some consolation for assuaging the grief and fear which the faithful might have entertained upon observing the operation of the common law, to which all mankind are subject, and especially, upon considering their own afflictions, he opens the psalm by speaking of the peculiar grace which God had vouchsafed to his chosen tribes. He next briefly recites, how wretched the condition of men is, if they allow their hearts to rest in this world, especially when God summons them as guilty sinners to his judgment seat. And after he has bewailed, that even the children of Abraham had experienced for a time such severity, that they were almost consumed with sorrow, confiding in God's free favor, by which He had adopted them to himself, he prays that He would deal towards them in a merciful and gracious manner, as he had done in times past, and that he would continue even to the end the ordinary course of his grace.
[v.4] - Reference, 2nd Peter 3:8.
[v.5] - "They are as a dream" - Or, "They are asleep," as in the sleep of death. From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "[This] is a dreaming life. Men are carried away as with a flood and yet they are as a dream; they consider not their own frailty, nor are aware how near they approach to an awful eternity. Like men asleep, they imagine great things to themselves, until death wakes them, and puts an end to the pleasing dream. Time passes unobserved by us, as it does with men asleep; and, when it is over, it is as nothing."