Lord, you have been our dwelling place. Moses wrote that in Psalm 90. It’s from the very first verse.
A prayer of Moses the man of God.
Ps 90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
But wait. This is part 2 of a series about “The End”. If you haven’t read it yet, Part 1 is The Great Commission and The End Times, over on my other site.
Why are we looking at the beginning?
Well, it’s because what happens at the end is very much dependent on the beginning and the middle. And on one other thing. Honesty.
Keep in mind, this is from Moses. You know, the guy who God chose to lead the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt? Remember how well that went? Just in case you don’t – it didn’t go well at all.
And now we’ve got Moses saying Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Really? Let’s check that out.
Go back to Deuteronomy.
The Song of Moses
There’s the Song of Moses – Dt 31:30 – 32:24. But it wasn’t exactly a good song. It was from God to the people. His people. And God gave it to Moses with the following command.
Dt 31:19 “Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. 20 When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their forefathers, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant. 21 And when many disasters and difficulties come upon them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.” 22 So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.
Death on Mount Nebo
And then God told Moses to go Mount Nebo, where he (Moses) was going to die because of what he did.
Dt 32:48 On that same day the LORD told Moses, 49 “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. 50 There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. 51 This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. 52 Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”
Moses’ parting words for the Israelites
All of that was after Moses wrote down the words of God in The Book of The Law. And after Moses had a few words for the Israelites.
Dt 31:24 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25 he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD: 26 “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! 28 Assemble before me all the elders of your tribes and all your officials, so that I can speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to testify against them. 29 For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall upon you because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD and provoke him to anger by what your hands have made.”
The last thing Moses did before going up to Mount Nebo to die was to bless the tribes of Israel.
Moses’ blessing for the Israelites
The ending of that blessing says something very similar to the title and opening line of this article. But it says more as well.
Dt 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemy before you,
saying, ‘Destroy him!’
Dt 33:28 So Israel will live in safety alone;
Jacob’s spring is secure
in a land of grain and new wine,
where the heavens drop dew.
Dt 33:29 Blessed are you, O Israel!
Who is like you,
a people saved by the LORD?
He is your shield and helper
and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you,
and you will trample down their high places.”
So here is the part about God being our dwelling place.
Our Dwelling Place
Ps 90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
The Hebrew word for “dwelling place” is defined as:
4583 מָעֹון, מָעֹון, מְעִינִים [maʿown, maʿiyn /maw·ohn/] n m. From the same as 5772; TWOT 1581a; GK 5060 and 5061 and 5079; 19 occurrences; AV translates as “habitation” 10 times, “dwelling” four times, “den” twice, “dwelling place” twice, and “dwellingplace” once. 1 dwelling, habitation, refuge. 1A lair, refuge (of jackals). 1B dwelling. 1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
In addition to what we normally think of then, God is our refuge. Our protection.
And it has been for all generations. The Hebrew text has an interesting was of saying “all generations”. It uses the following word, twice in a row.
1755 דֹּור, דֹּור [dowr, or (shortened), dor /dore/] n m. From 1752; TWOT 418b; GK 1886 and 1887; 167 occurrences; AV translates as “generation” 133 times, “all” 18 times, “many” six times, and translated miscellaneously 10 times. 1 period, generation, habitation, dwelling. 1A period, age, generation (period of time). 1B generation (those living during a period). 1C generation (characterised by quality, condition, class of men). 1D dwelling-place, habitation. 2)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
from everlasting to everlasting you are God
Ps 90:2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
While “from everlasting to everlasting you are God” is certainly the key part of this verse, the other lines are worth looking at.
The word “born“, as in “the mountains were born“, has an interesting connotation.
3205 יָלַד, לֵדָה [yalad /yaw·lad/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 867; GK 3528 and 4256; 498 occurrences; AV translates as “beget” 201 times, “bare” 110 times, “born” 79 times, “bring forth” 25 times, “bear” 23 times, “travail” 16 times, “midwife” 10 times, “child” eight times, “delivered” five times, “borne” three times, “birth” twice, “labour” twice, “brought up” twice, and translated miscellaneously 12 times. 1 to bear, bring forth, beget, gender, travail. 1A (Qal). 1A1 to bear, bring forth. 1A1A of child birth. 1A1B of distress (simile). 1A1C of wicked (behaviour). 1A2 to beget. 1B (Niphal) to be born. 1C (Piel). 1C1 to cause or help to bring forth. 1C2 to assist or tend as a midwife. 1C3 midwife (participle). 1D (Pual) to be born. 1E (Hiphil). 1E1 to beget (a child). 1E2 to bear (fig.—of wicked bringing forth iniquity). 1F (Hophal) day of birth, birthday (infinitive). 1G (Hithpael) to declare one’s birth (pedigree). 3)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
We tend to think of creation as God formed man, but “only said” everything else into existence. It’s as if the rest of creation is no big deal. To be sure, the text in Genesis indicates that God was more personally involved in the creation of man, and He did breathe life into Adam. But this word indicates that God was more involved in the creation of everything else than we may give Him credit for.
We may think born was just a figure of speech that was used. That it really didn’t mean much. However, between this meaning for “born” and the next definition, for the word brought”, we see that, if that kind of thinking is what we’re doing, we’re short-changing God’s involvement and care for the rest of His creation.
The words “brought forth” is defined as follows.
3176 יָחַל [yachal /yaw·chal/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 859; GK 3498; 42 occurrences; AV translates as “hope” 22 times, “wait” 12 times, “tarry” three times, “trust” twice, “variant” twice, and “stayed” once. 1 to wait, hope, expect. 1A (Niphal) to wait. 1B (Piel). 1B1 to wait, await, tarry. 1B2 to wait for, hope for. 1C (Hiphil) to wait, tarry, wait for, hope for. 4)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
We see several concepts in here, none of which indicate that “God said ‘let there be …’ “, and then moved on to something else, leaving His creation to fend for itself. There’s waiting. But more than just waiting. God is waiting expectantly, hoping, waiting for something. (Of course, God knows what’s coming.)
Given what we read in Genesis, God could be waiting for a couple things. He could be waiting for things to be “very good”, as in the ending of the first chapter of Genesis.
Ge 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Ge 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Ge 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
Or, he could be waiting for Adam and Eve to mess things up after the encounter with the Serpent.
However, given that “hope” is also in the meaning of “brought forth”, that’s hard to imagine. God wouldn’t wait hopefully for that event.
Beyond that though, God already knew what was going to happen. He knew His creation that was very good at the end of the sixth “day” was eventually going to be brought to a fallen condition. That it wouldn’t be “very good” forever. In that light, God could also have been waiting expectantly, hopefully, for what He also knew would eventually come to pass – the new earth and the new Heavens, when His creation would be restored to the way it was intended to be.
Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Rev 21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Rev 21:6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.
In any case, we see a level of importance to God’s creation that we may not have really appreciated before. We see a God who has been, literally forever. And who will be, literally forever. And yet, He cares about His temporary creation of the heavens and the earth, the creation within which we now reside.
Five times, we read “what is man” in the Bible.
(1) Job 7:17 “What is man that you make so much of him,
that you give him so much attention,
Job 7:18 that you examine him every morning
and test him every moment?
(2) Job 15:14 “What is man, that he could be pure,
or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?
(3) Ps 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
(4) Ps 144:3 O LORD, what is man that you care for him,
the son of man that you think of him?
(5) Heb 2:5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
But nowhere will we find the question, “what is creation?”
Is that because we are too self-centered?
Or maybe we don’t think highly enough of the rest of God’s creation?
More likely both?
That kind of thinking leads to the next verse in Psalm 90.
Back to dust
Ps 90:3 You turn men back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”
Returning to dust. That came about because of what Adam did, going back to the earlier reference to God’s creation being fallen.
Ge 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
Ge 3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
Ge 3:19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
Obviously, “dust” is important. But let’s look at a couple other things first.
“You must not eat of it”
I almost don’t want to use these words, but I have to. Did God really say, “You must not eat of it”? I wrote an entire article, Protected from the Bible – The Problem of Free Will, which talks about what God really said to Adam. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” There’s a very subtle difference between that sentence and saying, “You can eat from every tree except …”. When looking at the Hebrew, it’s not subtle at all. It comes out as you may eat of any tree in the garden, but if you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will “die die”. The article goes into all the details to understand that command, and it’s consequences.
Below is the phrase from Ge 3:17, with the inline Hebrew corresponding to the English words.
As you can see, “you must” was added to the word “not”. Going back to the article on free will, it shows that the Hebrew wording here is consistent with the earlier command that Adam was free to eat from any tree in the garden, with the (extreme) warning that he would “die die” if he ate from the one tree.
The Bible makes a distinction between work and toil.
“Work” is considered good.
5647 עָבַד [ʿabad /aw·bad/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 1553; GK 6268; 290 occurrences; AV translates as “serve” 227 times, “do” 15 times, “till” nine times, “servant” five times, “work” five times, “worshippers” five times, “service” four times, “dress” twice, “labour” twice, “ear” twice, and translated miscellaneously 14 times. 1 to work, serve. 1A (Qal). 1A1 to labour, work, do work. 1A2 to work for another, serve another by labour. 1A3 to serve as subjects. 1A4 to serve (God). 1A5 to serve (with Levitical service). 1B (Niphal). 1B1 to be worked, be tilled (of land). 1B2 to make oneself a servant. 1C (Pual) to be worked. 1D (Hiphil). 1D1 to compel to labour or work, cause to labour, cause to serve. 1D2 to cause to serve as subjects. 1E (Hophal) to be led or enticed to serve. 5)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Ge 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
“Toil” is not a good thing.
6093 עִצָּבֹון [ʿitstsabown /its·tsaw·bone/] n m. From 6087; TWOT 1666e; GK 6779; Three occurrences; AV translates as “sorrow” twice, and “toil” once. 1 pain, labour, hardship, sorrow, toil. 6)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
However, in His mercy, God allows for toil to provide for something good to come out of it as well.
Ecc 3:9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
to dust you will return
Remember how God originally formed Adam.
Ge 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens— 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground— 7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
And so, because Adam listened to Eve and ate the fruit that would lead to “die die”, we now die. We return to dust.
As mentioned, this cannot be what God expectantly waited for and hoped for from His creation.
Our life is like a few hours to God
Ps 90:4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
Many people look at this as a reminder of just how short our lives are. Since I’ve already put forth the idea that this same verse can also be viewed from God’s point of view as being a really long time, I have to include this excerpt from a commentary on this verse from Psalm 90.
Later in the psalm Moses will speak of “the length of our days” being “seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength” (v. 10). I have noticed when I have been visiting very elderly people on their birthdays that there are usually two things of which they seem proud: first, that they have lived as long as they have, and second, that so many people have remembered their birthdays by sending them cards. I am pleased for them, but we must remember that however long we live, death comes in the end and that what we accomplish will eventually be forgotten by everyone. Only God does not forget. Only what we do for him will remain as an everlasting accomplishment. 7)Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 42–106: An Expositional Commentary (p. 743). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Having said that, we do need to keep in mind the shortness of our lives on earth. God infinite remembrance of us and the things we do for Him are important. As we’ll see in the next segment of this series, the opportunities we have to experience moments with Him are also important. But for the next few verses, our short lifespan is front and center in what is written.
An ending and a beginning
Ps 90:5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death;
they are like the new grass of the morning—
Ps 90:6 though in the morning it springs up new,
by evening it is dry and withered.
As was discussed in part 1, we see an ending and a beginning here.
in the sleep of death
This phrase is interesting. Neither Hebrew word actually means “death”. At least not in the way we use the word today. “in the sleep of death” is translated from two Hebrew words:
2229 זָרַם, זָרַם [zaram /zaw·ram/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 581; GK 2441 and 2442; Two occurrences; AV translates as “pour out” once, and “carry away as with a flood” once. 1 to pour out, pour forth in floods, flood away. 1A (Qal) to pour out, flood away. 1B (Poal) to pour forth, pour out. 1B1 of God’s power (fig.). 8)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
8142 שֵׁנָא, שֵׁנָה [shehah, shenaʾ /shay·naw/] n f. From 3462; TWOT 928c; GK 9097 and 9104; 23 occurrences; AV translates as “sleep” 23 times. 1 sleep. 9)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Of course, this begs the question, what does “sleep of death” mean?
During the research on this Psalm, I came across something written about Simeon, in the Gospel of Luke.
Jesus Presented in the Temple
Lk 2:21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
Lk 2:22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Lk 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
Lk 2:29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
Lk 2:30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
Lk 2:31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
Lk 2:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
Lk 2:33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
The commentary, from H. D. M. Jones-Spence, says this:
Vers. 25–30.—A satisfied human spirit. There are few more exquisite pictures even in Holy Writ than the one which is here drawn for us. An aged and venerable man, who has lived a long life of piety and virtue, and who has been cherishing an ever. brightening hope that before he dies he should look upon the face of his country’s Saviour, directed by the Spirit of God, recognizes in the infant Jesus that One for whose coming he has so long been hoping and praying. Taking him up into his arms with the light of intense gratitude in his eyes, and the emotion of deepest happiness in his voice, he exclaims, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, … for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation.” Life has now no ungranted good for him to await. The last and dearest wish of his heart has been fulfilled; willingly would he now close his eyes in the sleep of death; gladly would he now lie down to rest in the quiet of the grave. 10)Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Luke (Vol. 1, pp. 53–54). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
Of course, it isn’t just Simeon who is going to experience the “sleep of death”. Everyone is. It goes on to say that we all fall into one of three categories of people.
I. THOSE WHO MUST BE UNSATISFIED IN SPIRIT. There is a vast multitude of men who seek for satisfaction in the things which are seen and temporal—in taking pleasure, in making money, in wielding power, in gaining honour, etc. But they do not find what they seek. It is as true in London as it was in Jerusalem, eighteen centuries after Christ as ten centuries before, that “the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing.” All the rivers of earthly good may run into the great sea of an immortal spirit, but that sea is not filled. Earthly good is the salt water that only makes more athirst the soul that drinks it. It is not the very wealthy, nor the very mighty, nor the very honoured man who is ready to say, “I am satisfied; let me depart in peace.”
II. THOSE WHO MAY BE SATISFIED IN SPIRIT. Simeon knew by special communication from God—“it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost”—that he should reach a certain point in the coming of the kingdom of God, that his heart’s deep desire for “the Consolation of Israel” should be granted him. And waiting for this, and attaining it, his soul was filled with joy and holy satisfaction. It is right for those who are taking a very earnest interest in the cause of Christ to long to be allowed to accomplish a certain work for him. Again and again has the parent thus striven and prayed and longed to see the conversion of all his (her) children, or the teacher of his (her) class; the minister of Christ to see the attainment of some pastoral design; the missionary to win some tribe from barbarism and idolatry; the translator to render the Word of God into the native tongue; the national reformer to pass his measure for emancipation, or temperance, or virtue, or education, or the protection of the lives and morals of women or children. And this deep desire of the heart has been a constraining power, which has nerved the hand and energized the life, which has brought forth the fruit of sacred zeal and unwearied toil. God has given to these souls the desire of their hearts, and they have gone to their grave filled with a holy, satisfying peace. So may it be with us. And yet it may not be so. We may be called upon to quit the field of active labour before the harvest is gathered in. Others may enter into our labours. But if it should be so, there is a way in which we may belong to—
III. THOSE WHO CANNOT FAIL TO BE SATISFIED IN SPIRIT. For we may be of those who realize that it is in God’s hand to fix the bounds of our present labour, and to determine the measure of the work we shall do on earth. We may work on diligently and devotedly as those who have much to do for God and man, yet clearly recognizing that God has for us a sphere in the spirit-world, and that he may at any hour remove us there, though we would fain finish what we have in hand below. If we have the spirit of Christ in our service, if we go whither we believe he sends us, and work on in the way which we believe to be according to his will, we may rest in the calm assurance that the hour of our cessation from holy labour is the hour of God’s appointment, and a peace as calm as that of Simeon may fill our soul as we leave a not unfinished work on earth to enter a nobler sphere in heaven.—C. Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Luke (Vol. 1, p. 54). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
This sounds very much like toil as the gift from God in Ecc 3:9. We may come to curse God because of this toil. Or, we may come to revere God because of it. But no matter what, we are leaving this life on earth for something else. And this process happens to everyone. On and on. Over and over. A life begins. That life ends, or more correctly goes to the sleep of death, as far as this topic is concerned. And then there is a new life – be it in Heaven or in Hell – that will never end.
Anger and Indignation
Ps 90:7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
This sounds bad. To be sure, it wouldn’t be undeserved. Look at what Moses had to go through with the Israelites, even as God was rescuing them They weren’t exactly grateful. At times, they were anything but grateful. But still, it sounds bad.
Because of the meaning and intent behind the original Hebrew words, I’m going to use the ESV translation for this verse.
7 For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed. 11)The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 90:7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Now, let’s look at that with the Hebrew.
You see, we now have “we are brought to an end” as opposed to “we are consumed”. That’s because of the meaning of the word translated as “consumed” or “[brought to an] end”.
3615 כָּלָה [kalah /kaw·law/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 982, 983, 984; GK 3983; 206 occurrences; AV translates as “consume” 57 times, “end” 44 times, “finish” 20 times, “fail” 18 times, “accomplish” 12 times, “done” nine times, “spend” eight times, “ended” seven times, “determined” four times, “away” three times, “fulfil” three times, “fainteth” twice, “destroy” twice, “left” twice, “waste” twice, and translated miscellaneously 13 times. 1 to accomplish, cease, consume, determine, end, fail, finish, be complete, be accomplished, be ended, be at an end, be finished, be spent. 1A (Qal). 1A1 to be complete, be at an end. 1A2 to be completed, be finished. 1A3 to be accomplished, be fulfilled. 1A4 to be determined, be plotted (bad sense). 1A5 to be spent, be used up. 1A6 to waste away, be exhausted, fail. 1A7 to come to an end, vanish, perish, be destroyed. 1B (Piel). 1B1 to complete, bring to an end, finish. 1B2 to complete (a period of time). 1B3 to finish (doing a thing). 1B4 to make an end, end. 1B5 to accomplish, fulfil, bring to pass. 1B6 to accomplish, determine (in thought). 1B7 to put an end to, cause to cease. 1B8 to cause to fail, exhaust, use up, spend. 1B9 to destroy, exterminate. 1C (Pual) to be finished, be ended, be completed. 12)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
It’s really another way of saying that we return to dust. And, as with Genesis, Moses is pointing out that our death is because of our sin.
Also note that the ESV begins the verse with the word “for” – as in because of. So it’s really saying we die because of our sin. That’s much more to the point, and accurate, than just saying we are consumed by God’s anger. it attaches an element of causation that’s not present in the NIV translation. BTW – it really should be there. It’s not like we’re blameless and God just brings us to this end because He feels like it and no other reason. It’s a just ending, not a capricious one.
I believe the second line is also a more appropriate translation in the ESV. We can see that in the words translated as (1) indignation / wrath and (2) terrified / dismayed.
2534 חֵמָא, חָמָה, חֵמָה [chemah, chemaʾ /khay·maw/] n f. From 3179; TWOT 860a; GK 2771 and 2778 and 2779; 124 occurrences; AV translates as “fury” 67 times, “wrath” 34 times, “poison” six times, “furious” four times, “displeasure” three times, “rage” twice, “anger” once, “bottles” once, “furious + 1167” once, “furiously” once, “heat” once, “indignation” once, “wrathful” once, and “wroth” once. 1 heat, rage, hot displeasure, indignation, anger, wrath, poison, bottles. 1A heat. 1A1 fever. 1A2 venom, poison (fig.). 1B burning anger, rage. 13)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
While both words are included in the definition, the circumstances / context of the verse make wrath the more appropriate. Indignation just doesn’t come across with enough feeling and emotion, at least not the way we use it today.
926 בָּהַל [bahal /baw·hal/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 207; GK 987; 39 occurrences; AV translates as “trouble” 17 times, “haste” four times, “afraid” three times, “vexed” three times, “amazed” twice, “hasty” twice, “affrighted” once, “dismayed” once, “hastily” once, “thrust him out” once, “rash” once, “speedily” once, “speedy” once, and “vex” once. 1 to disturb, alarm, terrify, hurry, be disturbed, be anxious, be afraid, be hurried, be nervous. 1A (Niphal). 1A1 to be disturbed, dismayed, terrified, anxious. 1A2 to be in haste, be hasty. 1B (Piel). 1B1 to make haste, act hastily, be hurried, be hastened. 1B2 to dismay, terrify. 1C (Pual). 1C1 to hasten. 1C2 hastened, hastily gained (part.). 1D (Hiphil). 1D1 to hasten, hurry, make haste. 1D2 to dismay, terrify. 14)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
I like “dismayed” here, because I really don’t think most (any?) of us really understand enough about the consequences to be truly terrified. Some choose to pretend there are no consequences. Some don’t even pay enough attention to consider there might be any. Others cannot begin to imagine what the consequences really are. I think terrified becomes more of the operative word when the time comes. When it’s too late.
It’s like in Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Weeds.
The Parable of the Weeds Explained
Mt 13:36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
Mt 13:37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Mt 13:40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Keeping in mind that the weeds represent those people going to Hell, notice that there is no weeping or gnashing of teeth until the weeds are in the fiery furnace. While alive, the weeds are doing just fine. Even when pulled out of the ground, there’s no weeping. It’s only when someone gets to Hell that they realize just how bad it really is. So yes, people may feel dismayed about the possibility that the Bible might be true. But how many are really terrified? I dare say, not enough.
Secret sins exposed
Ps 90:8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
Things would be bad enough if only our public sins were known by God and men. But the secret ones? The ones we think literally no one knows about?
We tend to think of a verse like this as relating to God’s judgment against us. And light is the presence of God and of forgiveness. It’s important to remember both, especially when we look at something like what 1Jn 1:5-2:3.
Walking in the Light
1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1Jn 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
1Jn 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
1Jn 2:3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
We’ve talked about beginning and endings. The big question with this passage in light of beginnings and endings is whether or not it’s too late. As long as we’re alive here on earth, we have an opportunity to ask forgiveness. More on this will come in the next segment. But the point is, having sins exposed to the light while we’re still alive isn’t necessarily a bad thing, It’s an opportunity. It’s what we do with that opportunity that makes the sins being brought to light either a good or bad thing. If we repent and ask forgiveness in Jesus’ name – it will have been a good thing. If we do not, then it will have been a bad thing. Although, refusing to repent is really no different than staying in darkness and pretending we didn’t do anything wrong.
We finish with a moan
Ps 90:9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
“Wrath” may remind you of the same word in verse 7. But it isn’t. Relatively speaking, the Hebrew word from verse 7 was much more tame / subdued than the one here in verse 9.
5678 עֶבְרָה [ʿebrah /eb·raw/] n f. From 5676; TWOT 1556d; GK 6301; 34 occurrences; AV translates as “wrath” 31 times, “rage” twice, and “anger” once. 1 outpouring, overflow, excess, fury, wrath, arrogance. 1A overflow, excess, outburst. 1B arrogance. 1C overflowing rage or fury. 15)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
It’s like God is perceived as overreacting, with words like excess, overflow, outburst.
However, for now just hold that thought. When we get to verse 11, I believe it will make more sense.
Since the word for moaning is tied directly to finishing out years – dying, it deserves special attention.
1899 הֶגֶה [hegeh /heh·geh/] n m. From 1897; TWOT 467a; GK 2049; Three occurrences; AV translates as “sound” once, “tale” once, and “mourning” once. 1 a rumbling, growling, moaning. 1A a rumbling, growling. 1B a moaning. 1C a sigh, moan, sighing. 16)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.