Let me know how fleeting life is…


Psalm 39:1 I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” 2 I was silent and still; I held my peace to no avail; my distress grew worse, 3 my heart became hot within me. While I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight. Surely everyone stands as a mere breath.  6 Surely everyone goes about like a shadow. Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; they heap up, and do not know who will gather. 

This psalm is attributed to King David who was a passionate person – the sort who took things personally and got himself worked up, “my heart became hot within me”. Sometimes that was a good thing. His days as a warrior under King Saul is an example of this. It was his passionate side that compelled him to accept the challenge of Goliath the giant Philistine. But as he got older, functioning more as a king than a warrior, he learned to moderate his reactions to his opposition.

I appreciate how he thought to consider his situation from the eternal perspective of God. “Surely everyone stands as a mere breath”. In other words, our lives are short so why spend what little time we have being angry? “They heap up, and do not know who will gather.” Why spend our lives trying to accumulate “stuff” that will end up going to someone else when we die anyway?

Lord it’s true that some of us let small things ruin our days. We let our emotions get the better of us. What a waste! The older I get the more I understand the wisdom of this psalm. Help me, and those like me, to embrace our days as the treasure that they are. For they are soon over. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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