Psalms 90-94

Good morning! Today’s passage (Psalms 90-94) dwells for the most part on the relationship between righteousness and wickedness. In the confident understanding found in most of these psalms, God establishes the way of virtue, then helps law-abiders to stay within it and punishes those who fall outside of it.

Psalm 90 continues naturally with yesterday’s themes of human finitude and God’s eternal presence. Humans experience just a fraction of the life which God has created and intimately knows. The brevity of any life—”seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong”—is regarded with matter-of-factness, but also within the framework of God’s wrath. The takeaway message for readers is “to count our days”, taking nothing for granted.

Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” arose from his meditation on Psalm 91. We see in the description of God’s protectiveness (with stretched-out wings) one of the many metaphors for God which are found in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. The overall triumphant tone of the psalm is a confident assertion that those who “have made the Lord your refuge” will be free from all evil, pestilence, threat and enemy. Such confidence is motivating but can also inspire foolhardiness. Verses 11-12 are recited to Jesus by Satan during the temptations, as reason why Jesus should throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Jerusalem temple.

Psalms 92 and 94 describe God’s vindication of the righteous, even through times of trouble. Psalm 94 calls for divine vengeance against sin, because this is protection for the righteous. God is “the heavy”, called upon to reinforce the ways of justice. The discipline of the Lord is something to be desired, akin to a parent correcting a child in order to cultivate lifelong healthy habits. “The wicked” are to be pitied because they don’t get God’s discipline until it’s too late. They miss the correction of metaphorical guard rails to keep them on the paths of righteousness, and so they fall off a cliff when calamity strikes.

Psalm 93 is an “enthronement psalm” describing the splendor of God on the heavenly throne. It shares this theme with Psalms 95-99, which we’ll consider in full detail tomorrow. Happy reading!

Read Psalms 90-94.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Psalms 95-101. Thanks for reading!

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