LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

—Psalm 90:1-2

Shake your head to get all the wheels going and try to stretch your mind all you can, then think, if you can, about the past. Think your hometown out of existence. Think back to when there wasn’t anything here but some Indians. Then go back and think all those Indians away, back to before the Indians got here. Go back before that and think away the North American continent. And then think away all this earth of ours. And then let’s go back and think that there are no planets and no stars dotting the clear night sky; they have all vanished away and there is no Milky Way, no anything.

Go to the throne of God and think away the angels, the archangels, the seraphim and the cherubim that sing and worship before the throne of God. Think them all away until there is no creation: not an angel waves its wing, not a bird flies in the sky—there’s no sky to fly in. Not a tree grows on a mountain, there is no mountain for a tree to grow on. But God lives and loves alone. The Ancient of Days, world without end, to the vanishing point back as far as the human mind can go—there you have God. AOGII055-056

Lord, before the foundation of the world You knew me and chose me to be Your child. I praise You today. Amen. [1]

The Lord Is God (90:1–2)


1 The psalm begins with and ends on an affirmation of God as “the Lord” (Adonai), the Creator and Ruler of the universe. The difference between these two affirmations is that toward the conclusion the general recognition of God as the Lord and shelter of his people is the basis for the prayer that he may again bless his people with his favor in the future (v. 17). The Lord himself has been the “dwelling place” for his people (cf. 91:9; Dt 33:27)—their oasis of refreshment and encampment—for many generations (cf. Dt 32:7). The metaphor is related to the imagery of God’s protection (cf. 91:9), and it is not surprising that several MSS and the LXX read here “refuge” (māʿôz, GK 5057) instead of “dwelling place” (māʿôn, GK 5061).

2 The love of God is eternal. The psalmist expresses the greatness of God’s fatherly care in the imagery of birth. It is not entirely clear who is giving birth; is it God (NIV, “you brought forth the earth”) or the earth (“before the earth and the world gave birth”; cf. Pr 8:25)? The metaphor of God’s giving birth is possible (cf. Dt 32:18; P. D. Miller Jr., “Psalm 90,” in Interpreting the Psalms, 125–30); but it is more likely to render the phrase in favor of the earth’s giving rise to mountains, while not denying the creative role of the Lord in the process of the formation of the earth (cf. Ge 1:11, 20).

The confessional statement “you are God” affirms both God’s kingship over creation and his otherness. The designations for the Lord in these verses have been carefully chosen, as the psalmist sings praise to “the Lord,” the Ruler of the world, who alone is “God” (El; cf. Isa 44:6; 48:12). The Canaanites believed in El as the father of the gods, whose supremacy had gradually been taken over by Baal, his son. The psalmist states that there is no other Lord than the God who is eternal and who is the “dwelling place” of his own.[2]

90:1, 2 In the midst of so much transience and mortality, he first finds relief in the eternity of the Lord. While all else fades and vanishes, God is unchanging, a home and refuge for His people. From all eternity and to all eternity, He is God, “infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”[3]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 690). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 688). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


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