The Meaning of Psalms 90:4 Explained

Psalms 90:4

KJV: For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

YLT: For a thousand years in Thine eyes are as yesterday, For it passeth on, yea, a watch by night.

Darby: For a thousand years, in thy sight, are as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

ASV: For a thousand years in thy sight Are but as yesterday when it is past, And as a watch in the night.

What does Psalms 90:4 Mean?

Context Summary

Psalms 90:1-17 - The Message Of The Passing Years
The majestic music of this great psalm separates it from all the rest. It is like the deep bass stop of a mighty organ. Moses' authorship is stamped upon it. It is worthy of the man who had seen God face to face.
Psalms 90:1-6. The transitoriness of human life is contrasted with the stability of God. He is the asylum and home of all the generations of mankind, Deuteronomy 33:27. The earth and its mountains the universe and its worlds, were born of Him; but He Himself had no origin, no beginning. Time is but a sigh, a breath, the swift rush of the mountain-torrent, a tale told by the camp-fire at night, the grass of a morning's growth.
Psalms 90:7-12. A wail is borne in these verses from the forty years of wanderings. The ceaseless succession of graves was the bitter harvest of Israel's rebellions. Oh, that we might apply our hearts to wisdom that we may not fail of God's rest!
Psalms 90:13-17. In the closing words Moses utters a sublime prayer which includes us all. Let us seek to do some good work before we go, and may our children be a nobler generation than ourselves! But all beauty of character and permanence of work must emanate from God. [source]

Chapter Summary: Psalms 90

1  Moses, setting forth God's providence
3  Complains of human fragility
7  Divine chastisement
10  and brevity of life
12  He prays for the knowledge and sensible experience of God's good providence

What do the individual words in Psalms 90:4 mean?

For a thousand years in Your sight [Are] like the day before when it is past and [like] a watch in the night
כִּ֤י אֶ֪לֶף שָׁנִ֡ים בְּֽעֵינֶ֗יךָ כְּי֣וֹם אֶ֭תְמוֹל כִּ֣י יַעֲבֹ֑ר וְאַשְׁמוּרָ֥ה בַלָּֽיְלָה

אֶ֪לֶף  a  thousand 
Parse: Number, masculine singular construct
Root: אֶלֶף 
Sense: a thousand.
שָׁנִ֡ים  years 
Parse: Noun, feminine plural
Root: שָׁנָה  
Sense: year.
בְּֽעֵינֶ֗יךָ  in  Your  sight 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, cdc, second person masculine singular
Root: עֹונָה 
Sense: eye.
כְּי֣וֹם  [Are]  like  the  day 
Parse: Preposition-k, Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: יׄום 
Sense: day, time, year.
אֶ֭תְמוֹל  before 
Parse: Adverb
Root: אֶתְמֹול  
Sense: yesterday, recently, formerly.
יַעֲבֹ֑ר  it  is  past 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: עָבַר 
Sense: to pass over or by or through, alienate, bring, carry, do away, take, take away, transgress.
וְאַשְׁמוּרָ֥ה  and  [like]  a  watch 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, feminine singular
Root: אַשְׁמוּרָה  
Sense: watch (a period of time), night-watch.
בַלָּֽיְלָה  in  the  night 
Parse: Preposition-b, Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: לַיִל 
Sense: night.