Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Life is Short

[To the chief Musician, even to Jedu'thun, A Psalm of David]

1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.

3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.

5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

8 Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.

9 I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.

10 Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.

11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.

12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

—Psalm 39 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David. In the song, David is asking God to help David accept the brevity of life and to stop chastening David In view of life's shortness.

The psalm superscription says it is for “Jedu'thun,” one of the choir directors appointed by David to lead public worship. Jedu'thun is mentioned elsewhere, including 1 Chronicles 16:41 and 1 Chronicles 25:1-3. Three psalms reference Jedu'thun—Psalm 39, Psalms 62 and Psalm 77.

In verses 1 through 6, David asks God to help him accept that life is so short. In verse 1, David wants to blame God for the shortness of life, but David did not want to say anything that the “wicked” would consider disloyalty to God. In verse 4, David asks to know just how short his life is. In verse 5, David describes the length of life as a “handbreadth,” or the width of four fingers. In verse 6, David describes the lives of others as “a vain shew,” also translated “as a phantom.” David is expressing that life is a shadow; unsubstantial. People do so much for no reason. They make money that in the end goes to someone else.

In verses 7 through 13, David asks God to stop chastening him because life is so short. In verse 12, David describes himself and those before him as travelers who are only passing through life. In verse 13, David asks that God will be kind to him in the same way God taught the people of Israel to be kind to the “stranger” and “sojourner,” as directed in Deuteronomy 10:18-19.

Father, as I get older, I realize just how short life really is. I get so bogged down in the details of each day, but I know I should treasure each day as a gift. Help me to savor every day and to fill it with praise and service for You.


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