God’s Eternity and Man’s Transitoriness.
1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place and our refuge in all generations [says Moses]. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth or ever You had formed and given birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God.
3 You turn man back to dust and corruption, and say, Return, O sons of the earthborn [to the earth]! 4 For a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5 You carry away [these disobedient people, doomed to die within forty years] as with a flood; they are as a sleep [vague and forgotten as soon as they are gone]. In the morning they are like grass which grows up -- " 6 In the morning it flourishes and springs up; in the evening it is mown down and withers.
7 For we [the Israelites in the wilderness] are consumed by Your anger, and by Your wrath are we troubled, overwhelmed, and frightened away. 8 Our iniquities, our secret heart and its sins [which we would so like to conceal even from ourselves], You have set in the [revealing] light of Your countenance. 9 For all our days [out here in this wilderness, says Moses] pass away in Your wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told [for we adults know we are doomed to die soon, without reaching Canaan]. 10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten (seventy years) -- "or even, if by reason of strength, fourscore years (eighty years); yet is their pride [in additional years] only labor and sorrow, for it is soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of Your anger? [Who worthily connects this brevity of life with Your recognition of sin?] And Your wrath, who connects it with the reverent and worshipful fear that is due You? 12 So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom.
13 Turn, O Lord [from Your fierce anger]! How long -- "? Revoke Your sentence and be compassionate and at ease toward Your servants. 14 O satisfy us with Your mercy and loving-kindness in the morning [now, before we are older], that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad in proportion to the days in which You have afflicted us and to the years in which we have suffered evil. 16 Let Your work [the signs of Your power] be revealed to Your servants, and Your [glorious] majesty to their children. 17 And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands -- "yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it.