Psalms 90:5

5 Are we no more to you than a wispy dream, no more than a blade of grass

Psalms 90:5 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 90:5

Thou carriest them away as with a flood
As the whole world of the ungodly were with the deluge, to which perhaps the allusion is; the phrase is expressive of death; so the Targum,

``if they are not converted, thou wilt bring death upon them;''

the swiftness of time is aptly signified by the flowing gliding stream of a flood, by the rolling billows and waves of it; so one hour, one day, one month, one year, roll on after another: moreover, the suddenness of death may be here intended, which comes in an hour unlooked for, and unaware of, as a flood comes suddenly, occasioned by hasty showers of rain; as also the irresistible force and power of it, which none can withstand; of which the rapidity of a flood is a lively emblem, and which carries all before it, and sweeps away everything that stands in its course; as death, by an epidemic and infectious disease, or in a battle, carries off thousands and ten thousands in a very little time; nor does it spare any, as a flood does not, of any age or sex, of any rank or condition of life; and, like a flood, makes sad destruction and devastation where it comes, and especially where it takes off great numbers; it not only turns beauty to ashes, and strength into weakness and corruption, but depopulates towns, and cities, and kingdoms; and as the flowing flood and gliding stream can never be fetched back again, so neither can life when past, not one moment of time when gone; see ( 2 Samuel 14:14 ) , besides this phrase may denote the turbulent and tempestuous manner in which, sometimes, wicked men go out of the world, a storm being within and without, as in ( Job 27:20 Job 27:21 ) , "they are as a sleep"; or dream, which soon passeth away; in a sound sleep, time is insensibly gone; and a dream, before it can be well known what it is, is over and lost in oblivion; and so short is human life, ( Job 20:8 ) there may be, sometimes, a seeming pleasure enjoyed, as in dreams, but no satisfaction; as a man in sleep may dream that he is eating and drinking, and please himself with it; but, when he awakes, he is hungry and empty, and unsatisfied; and so is man with everything in this life, ( Isaiah 29:8 ) ( Ecclesiastes 1:8 ) ( 5:10 ) , and all things in life are a mere dream, as the honours, riches, and pleasures of it; a man rather dreams of honour, substance, and pleasure, than really enjoys them. Wicked men, while they live, are "as those that sleep"; as the Targum renders it; they have no spiritual senses, cannot see, hear, smell, taste, nor feel; they are without strength to everything that is spiritually good; inactive, and do none; are subject to illusions and mistakes; are in imminent danger, and unconcerned about it; and do not care to be jogged or awaked, and sleep on till they sleep the sleep of death, unless awaked by powerful and efficacious grace; and men when dead are asleep, not in their souls, but in their bodies; death is often in Scripture signified by a sleep, under which men continue until the resurrection, which is an awaking out of it:

in the morning they are like grass, which groweth up
or "passeth away", or "changeth" F4; or is changed; some understand this of the morning of the resurrection, when there will be a change for the better, a renovation, as Kimchi interprets the word; and which, from the use of it in the Arabic language, as Schultens observes F5, signifies to be green and flourishing, as grass in the morning is; and so intends a recovery of rigour and strength, as a man after sleep, and as the saints will have when raised from the dead. The Targum refers it to the world to come,

``and in the world to come, as grass is cut down, they shall be changed or renewed;''

but it is rather to be understood of the flourishing of men in the morning of youth, as the next verse shows, where it is repeated, and where the change of grass is beautifully illustrated and explained.


F4 (Plxy) "quae mutatur", Pagninus; "mutabitur", Montanus; "immutatur", Tigurine version; "transiens", Junius & Tremellius; "quae transit", Musculus, Gejerus, Michaelis.
F5 Animadv. in Job, p. 34.

Psalms 90:5 In-Context

3 So don't return us to mud, saying, "Back to where you came from!"
4 Patience! You've got all the time in the world - whether a thousand years or a day, it's all the same to you.
5 Are we no more to you than a wispy dream, no more than a blade of grass
6 That springs up gloriously with the rising sun and is cut down without a second thought?
7 Your anger is far and away too much for us; we're at the end of our rope.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.