Psalm 90:10

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

The days of our years are threescore years and ten,.... In the Hebrew text it is, "the days of our years in them are", &c. {a}; which refers either to the days in which we live, or to the persons of the Israelites in the wilderness, who were instances of this term of life, in whom perhaps it first took place in a general way: before the flood, men lived to a great age; some nine hundred years and upwards; after the flood, men lived not so long; the term fixed then, as some think, was an hundred and twenty years, grounding it on the passage in Genesis 6:3, but now, in the time of Moses, it was brought to threescore years and ten, or eighty at most: of those that were numbered in the wilderness of Sinai, from twenty years and upwards, there were none left, save Joshua and Caleb, when the account was taken in the plains of Moab; see Numbers 14:29, so that some must die before they were sixty; others before seventy; and perhaps all, or however the generality of them, before eighty: and, from that time, this was the common age of men, some few excepted; to the age of seventy David lived, 2 Samuel 5:4, and so it has been ever since; many never come up to it, and few go beyond it: this is not only pointed at in revelation, but is what the Heathens have observed. Solon used to say, the term of human life was seventy years {b}; so others; and a people called Berbiccae, as Aelianus relates {c}, used to kill those of them that lived above seventy years of age, having exceeded the term of life. The Syriac version is, "in our days our years are seventy years"; with which the Targum agrees,

"the days of our years in this world are seventy years of the stronger;''

for it is in them that such a number of years is arrived unto; or "in them", that is, in some of them; in some of mankind, their years amount hereunto, but not in all: "and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years"; through a good temperament of body, a healthful and strong constitution, under a divine blessing, some may arrive to the age of eighty; there have been some instances of a strong constitution at this age and upwards, but not very common; see Joshua 14:11, for, generally speaking, such who through strength of body live to such an age,

yet is their strength labour and sorrow; they labour under great infirmities, feel much pain, and little pleasure, as Barzillai at this age intimates, 2 Samuel 19:35, these are the evil days {d}, in which is no pleasure, Ecclesiastes 12:1, or "their largeness or breadth is labour and sin" {e}; the whole extent of their days, from first to last, is spent in toil and labour to live in the world; and is attended with much sin, and so with much sorrow:

for it is soon cut off; either the strength of man, or his age, by one disease or incident or another, like grass that is cut down with the scythe, or a flower that is cropped by the hand; see Job 14:2,

and we fly away; as a shadow does, or as a bird with wings; out of time into eternity; from the place of our habitation to the grave; from a land of light to the regions of darkness: it is well if we fly away to heaven and happiness.

{a} Mhb "in ipsis", Pagninus, Montanus; "in quibus vivimus", Tigurine version, Vatablus.
{b} Laertius in Vita Solon. p. 36. Herodotus, l. 1. sive Clio, c. 32. Macrob. in Somno Scipionis, l. 1. c. 6. p. 58. & Plin. Epist. l. 1. Ep. 12. & Solon. Eleg. apud Clement. Alex. Stromat. l. 6. p. 685, 686.
{c} Vat. Hist. l. 4. c. 1.
{d} "----tristisque senectus et labor----". Virgil. Georg. l. 3. v. 67.
{e} Mbhr "amplitudo eorum", Montanus.