God’s Eternity and Human Frailty

1A prayer of Moses, the man of God.


Lord, you have been our refuge

through all generations.

2Before the mountains were born,

the earth and the world brought forth,

from eternity to eternity you are God.a

3You turn humanity back into dust,*

saying, “Return, you children of Adam!”b

4A thousand years in your eyes

are merely a day gone by,c

Before a watch passes in the night,

5*you wash them away;d

They sleep,

and in the morning they sprout again like an herb.

6In the morning it blooms only to pass away;

in the evening it is wilted and withered.*e


7Truly we are consumed by your anger,

filled with terror by your wrath.

8You have kept our faults before you,

our hidden sins in the light of your face.f

9Our life ebbs away under your wrath;g

our years end like a sigh.

10Seventy is the sum of our years,

or eighty, if we are strong;

Most of them are toil and sorrow;

they pass quickly, and we are gone.

11Who comprehends the strength of your anger?

Your wrath matches the fear it inspires.

12Teach us to count our days aright,

that we may gain wisdom of heart.


13Relent, O LORD! How long?

Have pity on your servants!

14Fill us at daybreak with your mercy,h

that all our days we may sing for joy.

15Make us glad as many days as you humbled us,

for as many years as we have seen trouble.i

16Show your deeds to your servants,

your glory to their children.

17May the favor of the Lord our God be ours.j

Prosper the work of our hands!

Prosper the work of our hands!

* [Psalm 90] A communal lament that describes only in general terms the cause of the community’s distress. After confidently invoking God (Ps 90:1), the Psalm turns to a complaint contrasting God’s eternity with the brevity of human life (Ps 90:26) and sees in human suffering the punishment for sin (Ps 90:712). The Psalm concludes with a plea for God’s intervention (Ps 90:1317).

* [90:3] Dust: one word of God is enough to return mortals to the dust from which they were created. Human beings were created from earth in Gn 2:7; 3:19.

* [90:5] You wash them away: the Hebrew of Ps 90:45 is unclear.

* [90:6] It is wilted and withered: the transitory nature of the grass under the scorching sun was proverbial, cf. Ps 129:6; Is 40:68.

a. [90:2] Ps 48:15; 55:20; 93:2; 102:13; Heb 1:12.

b. [90:3] Ps 103:14; 104:29; 146:4; Gn 3:19; 1 Mc 2:63; Jb 34:1415; Eccl 3:20; 12:7; Sir 40:11.

c. [90:4] 2 Pt 3:8.

d. [90:5] Ps 89:48.

e. [90:6] Ps 37:2; 102:11; 103:1516; Jb 14:12; Is 40:68.

f. [90:8] Ps 109:1415; Hos 7:2.

g. [90:910] Ps 39:57; 62:10; 102:2425; 144:4; Gn 6:3; Jb 7:6, 16; 14:5; Prv 10:27; Eccl 6:12; Wis 2:5; Sir 18:8; Is 65:20.

h. [90:14] Ps 17:15.

i. [90:15] Nm 14:34; Jer 31:13.

j. [90:17] Ps 33:22.

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