IV. Book IV (Psalms Psalms 90–106)
IV. Book IV (Psalms 90–106)
Because this psalm was authored by Moses, it is the oldest of all the psalms.
90:1-6 God alone is a place of divine shelter and protection for all those who take refuge in him (90:1) because he alone is eternal. Moses compares the glory of the infinite God to the transitory existence of finite humanity (90:2-3). With God, the passing of a thousand years is like the passing of a day (90:4). Human beings, on the other hand, are like grass that withers (90:5-6). Our time is brief; death comes for all.
90:7-12 Moses recognizes that the transitory nature of humanity’s existence is due to sin. Death is God’s righteous judgment against man’s rebellion (see Gen 3:22-24; Rom 6:23). Whether sins are committed in public or in secret, all are visible to him and incur his wrath (90:7-9). Sin and death have limited the lifespan of human beings; our lives pass quickly (90:10). In light of this reality, Moses asks God, Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom (90:12).
Let us implore God with this same prayer. Ask the Lord to make the brevity of life sink in to your soul, so that you are convicted to make godly choices during your short stay on earth. Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you can only spend it once.
90:13-15 Moses pleads with God to have compassion on his people, showing them his faithful love so that they might have joy and not sorrow (90:13-14). He wants their years of adversity to be matched by years of rejoicing (90:15). He hopes that God’s blessings would not be less than his judgment.
90:16-17 Moses concludes with a prayer for God’s favor on his people (90:17). The brevity of life and the divine anger against sin that Moses considered ought to drive us to God, not away from him. A meaningful life in which God [establishes] the work of our hands (90:17) comes through wisdom, and wisdom comes from submitting all we are to God for the brief time he gives us.
91:1-4 The psalmist expresses the great confidence he has in the security that comes from dwelling in the shadow of the Almighty. With him, there is abiding protection (91:1). Just like a bird takes refuge under the wings of its parent, the believer who lives under the cover of God’s covenant finds safety (91:4).
91:5-8 God covers his own with his faithfulness 24/7, thus providing them with a shield of protection. Knowledge of this should produce confident trust in God, in spite of the threats and attacks of the wicked (91:5). Regardless of the dangers around them, those who experience the covering that God provides will be cared for and, ultimately, will see the punishment of the wicked (91:7-8).
91:9-13 The one who makes God his refuge will not experience harm because the Lord has commissioned his angels to watch over him (91:9-11). This tells us that believers have angels divinely assigned to protect and strengthen them from spiritual dangers—which are depicted here as wild beasts (91:13). Only in eternity will we know how many dangers, toils, and snares angels have protected us from (see Heb 1:14).
When he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, the devil appealed to 91:11-12, urging Jesus to throw himself from the temple (see Matt 4:5-6) and demonstrating how Scripture can be twisted for selfish purposes. The psalmist wants God’s people to understand how he cares for them—not how they can manipulate God to do their bidding.
91:14-16 The psalmist communicates God’s promise to deliver and protect those who set their hearts on him (91:14). Indeed, the believer whose heart is devoted and submitted to the Lord in this way can count on God to rescue him and satisfy him with the full length of days ordained for him (91:15-16).
92:1-4 The psalmist expresses how good it is to publicly thank and praise the Lord for his love and faithfulness to his people (92:1-2). The works of God in his life cause him to rejoice (92:4). The reason there is so little genuine worship among God’s people today is because we don’t keep track of and call to mind all of God’s past deeds in our lives. The blessings of God should inspire his people to praise him for who he is, thank him for what he has done, and trust him for what he will do.
92:5-15 This psalm gives praise to the eternal perspective of the righteous as opposed to the short-lived perspective of the wicked who, like grass, flourish momentarily and then perish (92:5-9). The psalmist knew that, in contrast to this fate, God lifts him up above his enemies (92:11). God causes the righteous to thrive even in their old age (92:12-14). As a result, they declare the greatness of God (92:15). The goodness of God gives rise to the adoration of God.
93:1-2 The Lord reigns! The psalmist acknowledges that God is a majestic King. And the strength of this divine Ruler is seen in the creation that he made and sustains. The world is firmly established (93:1). God demonstrated his sovereign control when he brought it into being. Yet, while his throne was established from the beginning, God himself is from eternity (93:2).
93:3-4 The grandeur of creation testifies to the greatness of God. This is seen in the pounding waves and mighty breakers of the sea. They exist by his will and operate under his control.
93:5 The psalmist concludes with the assurance that God’s testimonies are completely reliable. His Word is without fault and cannot fail. His authoritative Word reflects his authoritative rule. Because God is sovereign and in a class by himself, whatever he says should be received with delight and obeyed without delay.
94:1-3 The psalmist calls for God—the divine Judge of the earth—to unleash his vengeance so that he might end the proud celebrations of the wicked (94:1-3). He wonders how long it would be before God sets all things right (94:3). Observe that the concerns of God’s people today are the same as the concerns of God’s people in the past.
94:4-7 The evil activity of the wicked justifies divine judgment. Arrogant words flow from their mouths (94:4); they oppress God’s people (94:5); the widow and the fatherless receive injustice from their hands (94:6). They commit such heinous deeds because they are convinced that God doesn’t see or pay attention (94:7). They couldn’t be more wrong.
94:8-11 The psalmist challenges the wicked to reconsider their faulty thinking. Their thoughts were stupid (94:8). God, the one who created the eye, could certainly see what they were up to (94:9). His all-inclusive knowledge even includes the thoughts of mankind (94:11).
94:12-15 The writer finds consolation in reminding himself that the Lord uses the wicked as a chastening rod. In other words, evildoers do not have free reign, but God puts them to work to discipline his own and accomplish his purposes for them (94:12-13). He will not abandon his people or allow the wicked to escape justice (94:13-15).
Believers today can also find comfort in knowing that our God uses the wicked to fulfill his plans. If we receive his discipline, we will grow spiritually and become more faithful followers of the living God.
94:16-19 God was his only comfort, for God alone could stand on his behalf against evildoers (94:16). Therefore, when cares overwhelmed him to the point that he was ready to throw in the towel, he put his full trust in God, whose comfort brought him joy (94:18-19). When you are dominated by worry, amp up your confidence in God so that he can relieve the pressure and anxiety you’re experiencing.
94:20-23 Though some may trust in a corrupt throne that brings harm to the innocent, the psalmist would look nowhere else for protection but to the Lord (94:20-22). Evil rulers do not realize that their days are limited, but God will pay them back for their sins (94:23).
Maintain a divine perspective on life. Take the long view of things. The judgment of God will come in time. Count on him.
95:1-5 Because God is the rock of our salvation, believers ought to shout joyfully to him corporately (95:1). Our praise is rooted in God’s power to save us. He alone is a great King above all gods because he is the Creator of all things—the mountain peaks . . . the sea . . . the dry land (95:3-5). When people in the ancient world came into the presence of kings to whom they were subjected, they would bring gifts. When we enter our King’s presence, the gift we bring is thanksgiving (95:2) for who he is, what he has done, and what we are trusting him to do.
95:6-7a The psalmist calls God’s people to demonstrate their submission to him by bowing before him (95:6), a posture symbolizing the recognition of his sovereignty. Like sheep depend on their shepherd to protect and provide for them, so we, as the people of [God’s] pasture, look to him for every good thing we need (95:7a).
95:7b-11 He then urges his readers to listen and obey the Lord’s voice (95:7b). He pleads with them not to harden [their] hearts (that is, to willfully reject God), and he reaches into the past to give them an example of what such rejection looks like. At Meri-bah (“Quarreling”) and Massah (“Testing”), Israel complained to God after the exodus, demanding water (95:8; see Exod 17:1-7). But, this was not the end of their rebellion. They continued to test God and eventually refused to enter the promised land (95:9). Therefore, God gave them their wish, swearing, They will not enter my rest (95:11)—that is, they would not experience the blessings that come through a right relationship with him. As a result, that generation would spend forty years in the wilderness and die there (95:10), and their children entered the land instead (see Num 14:11-38).
The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95 to warn believers not to miss out on God’s “rest”—his blessings and favor—by following a path of unbelief and disobedience (see Heb 4:7-13).
96:1-3 The psalmist exhorts the whole earth to praise the Lord with a fresh, new song (96:1). Such singing should be accompanied by proclamations of his salvation and glorious deeds from days gone by (96:2). Such worship recognizes the glory that is due to God alone and which should be acknowledged among all peoples of the earth (96:3).
96:4-6 Because only the Lord is God, only he should be praised and feared (96:4). So-called gods are mere idols conjured up by human imagination (96:5). While God revealed his splendor and majesty . . . strength and beauty in his sanctuary—his temple in Jerusalem (96:6)—false gods reveal nothing but their inadequacy.
96:7-9 Again all the earth, the families of the peoples, are exhorted to worship the Lord (96:7; see 96:1). This is a reminder that God is not only the God of Israel, but also the God of the Gentiles. He calls the whole earth to tremble before him (96:9). One day, every person will bow to Jesus Christ and confess that he is Lord to the glory of God (see Phil 2:10-11).
96:10-13 God’s people are to declare throughout the nations that the Lord reigns (96:10). One day, this glorious truth will be universally acknowledged when our Messiah, the Lord Jesus, manifests his glory in his worldwide reign. In those days, all of creation will rejoice and shout for joy (96:11-12). When Christ establishes his kingdom, all will be made right. He is coming to judge the earth . . . with righteousness (96:13).
Just as the psalmist lived in expectation of the coming of the King, so believers today should do the same. May his return motivate our conduct, and may we live in expectation of his intervention in our lives.
97:1 The psalmist’s vision for God’s rule—like God’s own vision—includes all the earth (not merely Israel). All people should rejoice over the reality of God’s kingdom rule .
97:2-5 The Lord’s awe-inspiring presence is described in vivid imagery. He is surrounded by clouds and total darkness (97:2). He sends fire and lightning to accomplish his deeds (97:3-4). Creation itself reacts to the presence of the Lord, as mountains melt like wax before him (97:5). Consider, then, what destruction awaits those who oppose him.
97:6-9 When the Lord returns to rule the earth, the heavens will proclaim his righteousness and all the peoples will see his glory (97:6). There will be no hiding it, nor will there be any hiding from it. Idolaters will be put to shame as they are confronted with the reality that the images in which they placed their trust are worthless (97:7). Therefore, God’s people should rejoice in this knowledge of a certain future. His coming judgments give us confidence that the true God is exalted above all the gods (97:8-9).
97:10-12 In light of God’s sovereign rule and judgment of the wicked, those who love him must hate evil and obey him. God will position them to experience his delivering power on their behalf as he rescues them from the power of the wicked (97:10). Such knowledge causes light to dawn in the heart of the righteous so that they can see things from God’s perspective (97:11).
98:1-3 This psalm calls for praise concerning the victorious wonders that God has performed. It requires a new song because there are always fresh reasons to worship God (98:1). What he has done has not been carried out in secret but in the sight of the nations (98:2). All the ends of the earth have seen God’s faithfulness to the house of Israel (98:3). In spite of the opposition of their enemies, Israel was repeatedly delivered from obliteration, demonstrating that God was looking after his people.
98:4-8 Having seen God’s marvelous deeds, everyone on the planet should give praise to God (98:4). In fact, creation itself is invited to shout . . . for joy over the glory of its Creator (98:7-8).
98:9 Now is the time to worship the Lord and receive him as King. For when he comes, he will come to judge the earth. Therefore, all peoples are encouraged not to delay. When the Messiah comes to rule on earth with his rod of iron in his kingdom, it will be too late to join him. “Now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor 6:2).
99:1-3 The psalmist praises God, the King who reigns (99:1). He is holy—that is, unique, separate, and awe-inspiring (99:3). He rules from Zion where he is enthroned between the cherubim above the ark of the covenant (99:1-2). Yet, though his throne is in his temple in Jerusalem, he is not merely the King over Israel. Rather, he is exalted above all peoples (99:2).
99:4-5 Because the Lord reigns with justice and righteousness, all humanity ought to bow in worship at his footstool, submitting to his kingdom authority (see Isa 66:1; Matt 5:35). This posture of humility and acknowledgement of his regal authority should be matched by an inward bowing of the heart.
99:6-9 The psalmist recalls God’s deeds among Israel’s forefathers: Moses . . . Aaron, and Samuel, ordinary men with an extraordinary God. They called to the Lord, and he answered their prayers (99:6). When God communicated to them, they kept his decrees (99:7). When God’s people sinned, these men prayed, and God forgave them (99:8). Thus, God is to be praised for raising up these men to mediate for his people. And he is to be praised for not giving his people what their sins deserved. Though he is holy and an avenger of sin (98:8-9), he shows mercy.
For believers today, God has provided the perfect mediator (see 1 Tim 2:5) and the ultimate means to forgive sins. Through Jesus Christ and his atoning death on the cross, God exalts both his holiness and his mercy. The only appropriate response is to exalt and worship him (99:9).
100:1 Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to God! In the Bible, worship is not some sedate event. People are to engage in it with a sense of excitement. You can’t worship the Lord without your emotions. It is no mere intellectual exercise. Moreover, worship is for “the whole earth.” All peoples are invited to join the celebration. No one is left out. Worship is all that we are responding to all that he is. It is the recognition of God for who he is, what he has done, and what we are trusting him to do.
100:2 The emphasis on emotions continues: Serve the Lord with gladness. The sovereign God of the universe has invited you into his presence to serve him. How could anyone receive such a remarkable invitation with disinterest? Come before him with joyful songs is a reminder that no one would approach a human king, president, or other ruler with an attitude of indifference. When we come before God, then, we shouldn’t slouch, but sing with gusto.
100:3 The Lord is God is a translation of the Hebrew phrase, “Yahweh is Elohim.” Yahweh is the name of God revealed in his covenant relationship with his people. Elohim speaks of power; he is the one who created the heavens and the earth. Thus, the powerful God wants a relationship with you and should be given recognition. He made us, after all, and we are his sheep. He is our Creator and Sustainer. He is the source of everything we need.
100:4 The people in the psalmist’s day were commanded to enter his gates and courts. Though we do not go to a temple today, we are similarly commanded to enter into his presence. What is the password for entrance? Thanksgiving and praise. No matter what your circumstances, give thanks to him and bless his name because there’s always a reason to thank God. And doing so will transform you.
100:5 God is good and faithful. But, to experience his goodness and faithfulness, you must “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). So, worship him, trust him, and obey him. You won’t be disappointed.
101:1-5 In light of God’s faithful love and his demonstrated justice (101:1), King David devotes himself to the Lord through the use of his repeated vow I will. He pledges to worship God (101:1), to live with integrity (101:2), to avoid sin and evil (101:3-4), and to enforce justice under his rule (101:5).
David understood that the quality of his character and leadership had a direct influence on the nation. He took his role as king seriously. He wanted to honor God and bless the people under his reign with justice and righteousness. Whether in the church or in society, leadership based on such principles is a crucial factor in the well-being of those being governed and led.
101:6-8 King David would only have people serving in his administration who displayed faithful character and a commitment to God (101:6). Those known for deceit and lies would be shown the door (101:7). The destruction of the wicked would be a daily priority for him (101:8). In these ways, he would invite God’s blessings on himself and on his people.
102:1-7 In a great ordeal of affliction, this psalmist cries to God for help, begging him to listen and answer (102:1-2). He chronicles the depth of his despair as he experiences the full range of physical, emotional, and spiritual grief (102:3-5). He is overwhelmed by his loneliness and isolation (102:6-7).
When you are suffering and desperate for God’s intervention, let these biblical laments guide you in your prayers. When you don’t know what to say, use the inspired words of this psalm.
102:8-11 He was enduring the taunts of his enemies and existing in a constant state of mourning (102:8-9). Ashes were his food and tears were his drink (102:9). Yet, all of this was because he was experiencing the wrath of God, by whom he felt abandoned (102:10). His life was wasting away (102:11). Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians and lay in ruins. The psalmist and all of God’s people were dealing with the consequences of idolatry.
102:12-17 In the midst of his despair, this man expresses his confidence in the reign of God (you . . . are enthroned forever), hope in the covenant faithfulness of God (you will . . . have compassion on Zion), and trust in the future victory of God (the nations will fear the name) (102:12-13, 15). Therefore, the psalmist continues to pray, knowing that the Lord would pay attention to the prayer of the destitute (102:17).
102:18-22 The psalmist knows that he wasn’t writing these words merely for himself—or even for his contemporaries. He was writing for a later generation, for a people not yet born who would praise the Lord (102:18). Though in the psalmist’s day there was sorrow, in the future there would be rejoicing. Not only would the Lord set free those condemned to die among his people, but also peoples and kingdoms would assemble to serve him (102:20-22).
Such worldwide acknowledgement of God’s kingdom will be completely fulfilled during the Messiah’s millennial kingdom rule. At that time, Jerusalem will be fully restored, and the entire world will recognize the greatness and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
102:23-28 In his day, however, the psalmist feels weak and pleads with God for mercy (102:23-24). Though he knew that his own days were transitory, he acknowledged that God is eternal (102:24). Indeed, the Lord existed before creation, and he will outlast it (102:25-26). God will never end (102:26-27).
The author of Hebrews quotes 102:25-27 and applies the verses to Jesus Christ (see Heb 1:10-12). Sharing in the divine nature of God the Father, God the Son is likewise everlasting: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). And, because God is everlasting, the psalmist knows that he will preserve his children.
Thus, believers have a model prayer of suffering and hope, of despair and confidence. Come to God with your complaint, your repentance, your grief, and your hope. He is big enough to deal with them all.
103:1-2 With all that is within [him], David exhorts his soul to bless the Lord (103:1). And then he does so again (103:2). He wants to express praise and thanksgiving to God for all he had done—both for David personally and for his people corporately. Such benefits from God must not be forgotten or taken for granted (103:2).
103:3-5 The benefits God provides that David highlights include spiritual and physical blessings such as forgiving iniquity, healing diseases, and demonstrations of his faithful love and compassion (103:3-4). For those who are weary, he provides renewed vitality (103:5). There are countless reasons to praise God and express our gratitude to him. But, because sinful humans are prone to forget to do so, we must bring the benefits of God continually to our minds.
103:6-10 David praises God’s acts of righteousness and justice on behalf of the oppressed (103:6). He recalls how he’d acted through Moses among the people of Israel when he rescued them from bondage in Egypt (103:7). David even describes God’s character just as God himself had revealed it to Moses: He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love (103:8; see Exod 34:6). Though the Lord had judged the people of Israel for their sins, he had not dealt with them as their sins deserved. They deserved nothing but his wrath, but he extended mercy in the midst of judgment (103:9-10). God yearns for his wayward children to return to him.
103:11-13 How great is God’s faithful love toward those who take him seriously? It’s as high as the heavens are above the earth (103:11)—that is, beyond our comprehension. How far does he remove his people’s transgressions from them? As far as the east is from the west (103:12)—that is, forgiven sins are never to be seen again. If this was true when Israel offered God-ordained animal sacrifices that could not, in an ultimate sense, take away sin (see Heb 10:4, 11), how much more is it true of the once-for-all atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ (see Heb 10:14-18)? David illustrates God’s kindness toward those who fear him by picturing a father having compassion on his children (103:13). Such is how the Lord feels toward those who come to him in repentance and faith.
103:14-18 David underscores the ongoing benefits of God’s loyal love for his people by highlighting the weak and temporary nature of man’s life. As children of Adam, we are made of . . . dust (103:14; see Gen 2:7). The days of our lives are like those of a flower that blooms for a moment and then vanishes (103:15-16). By contrast, the Lord’s faithful love is from eternity to eternity for those who fear him—those who remember to observe his precepts (103:17-18).
103:19-22 David concludes by acknowledging God as the sovereign King who rules over all and by inviting all creation—heaven and earth—to bless him (103:19-20). This review of God’s faithfulness toward his people causes David to erupt like a volcano with praise. May the same be true of all believers. Let us take God seriously and declare his praises.
104:1-9 The psalmist exhorts himself to bless God for his majesty and splendor (104:1). Here, the elements of nature are described as the Lord’s clothing, his palace, and his chariot (104:2-3). He is the all-powerful Creator, and the whole universe exists to serve his purposes. Whatever he builds cannot topple; the earth that he established cannot be shaken (104:5). Though his flood water once covered the earth, he restored the mountains and valleys to their rightful prominence (104:6-8). The water will never cover the earth again (104:9).
104:10-18 God is the one who filled the earth with everything necessary to sustain life. He provides food and drink for animals and humans alike (104:10-15). The earth is suitable for all kinds of life because God made it so.
104:19-23 Yet, his sovereignty is not limited to the earth but extends to the heavens. He created the moon and the sun (104:19) so that they would establish day and night, seasons and years, providing times and rhythms for man (104:23) and beast to function within.
104:24-30 The psalmist praises God for the greatness of his creation, which reveals his unsurpassed wisdom (104:24). He designed fabulous creatures—both large and small—that depend on his provision (104:25). He is sovereign over their lives and deaths (104:29-30).
104:31-35 Having considered all God’s marvelous works, the psalmist breaks forth in exaltation of God’s glory (104:31). He sings God’s praises and prays that this meditation would be pleasing to him (104:34). He concludes with a wish that sinners would vanish from the earth (104:35). Whether through the judgment of God or through faith in Jesus Christ, one day this will be so.
105:1-11 The psalmist calls on God’s people to praise and give thanks to him for his wondrous works (105:1-2, 5). In light of what he has done, his people should seek his face always (105:4). The psalmist recalls the faithfulness of God through his covenant with Abraham . . . Isaac, and Jacob to deliver them the land of Canaan as an inheritance (105:8-11).
105:12-41 He traces the history of Israel from the days of Joseph (105:17) through the exodus out of Egypt (105:37-38). The Lord had made them a great nation by his providential and powerful delivering hand. Israel’s story is one that involved the constant supernatural provision and protection of God.
105:42-45 The Lord was faithful to his holy promise to Abraham (105:42). And, although Israel was hindered by enemies and by their own sinful rebellion, God gave them the land he had promised—the lands of the nations (105:44). What was the reason for all of the Lord’s remarkable deeds? That his people might keep his statutes and obey his instructions (105:45).
Similarly, God saves us so that we will love and obey him. We are not delivered from sin and death so that we can go our own way. We are rescued for reverence; we are saved to serve.
106:1-5 The psalmist exhorts God’s people to thank God because his faithful love is everlasting (106:1). Thus, it’s impossible to praise him enough and truly give him his due (106:1-2). Because of God’s character, those who (like him) practice justice and righteousness are happy or blessed (106:3). The psalmist asks God to remember and show favor to him so that he could benefit from the kindness he shows to the nation (106:4-5).
106:6-12 The psalmist acknowledges that Israel had sinned in his day as the nation’s ancestors had (106:6). Their forefathers rebelled against the Lord (106:7). Yet he saved them for his name’s sake (106:8). In spite of their lack of faith, he delivered them through the Red Sea from their adversary (106:9-10). As a result, they believed his promises and sang his praise (106:12).
106:13-33 But, their belief only lasted a little while. They soon forgot his works (106:13). They tested God on numerous occasions, and he punished them severely (106:14-20). He gave them what they wanted, but their selfish cravings ended in sickness (106:15). If not for the intercessory prayer of Moses, God would have destroyed them for their idolatry (106:23; see Exod 32). Yet, their rebellion continued. Eventually, they refused to enter the promised land that he had prepared for them (106:24-25). So, he sentenced them to die in the desert (106:26). In spite of all this, they did not repent but turned to idols and even caused Moses to sin (106:28-33).
106:34-46 When their descendants entered the promised land, they did not destroy all of their enemies as God had commanded (106:34). Instead, they served the idols of the nations, committing horrific acts, including child sacrifice (106:36-38). Therefore, the Lord let their enemies oppress them (106:41-42). Even though he rescued them many times, they refused to learn but continued to rebel (106:43). The only thing that prevented Israel from being completely wiped out was the abundance of [God’s] faithful love (106:45).
106:47-48 The psalmist concludes by praying that God would again save his people. Though they had disobeyed like their ancestors, he pleads with God to rescue them so that they might rejoice in [his] praise (106:47). Book IV of the Psalms thus concludes.