4 Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. 5 Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah (Psalm 39:4–5, NKJV).
The circumstances of our lives can change in an instant. A dear friend was hit by a drunk driver last week. He remains in the hospital, facing a long period of recovery. Another friend had an accident yesterday and broke his neck. He survived, was rushed to surgery, and his outcome is still unknown. Illness, accidents, and death touch our lives and those we know and love practically every day. David expressed his yearning to know the quantity and end of his days. Like us, David did not know when he would die. But he wanted to know the truth about his life so he could guard himself against sin while living in hope (Ps. 39:1-3, 7-8). We yearn for the same knowledge. Like David, let us pause (Selah) and reflect on life’s uncertainty and brevity and their impact on us. (1) We are frail (v. 4). Life is fleeting. No matter how strong we are, our bodies will ultimately fail us and die. Therefore, we must lay up heavenly treasures for life beyond this flesh (2 Cor. 4:17-5:1). (2) God is the giver of life (v. 5). Life is a gift to be cherished, not squandered (Eccl. 5:18-20; James 1:17). Met us honor His will whatever life brings (Eccl. 12:13). (3) Life is short (v. 5). Our lives are brief like a vapor’s rapid disappearance (James 1:14). In comparison to God’s eternal existence, our time is “nothing” before Him. As we busy ourselves with daily activities, we must remember this life’s treasures are vain (Ps. 39:6). “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord” (Jer. 17:7).
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 46:8–11, NKJV)
The Lord continues to rule over the kingdoms of men, which testifies of His boundless wisdom and power to be our refuge in times of distress (Dan. 4:25-26, 34-35). God uses times of turbulence and warfare to raise nations and bring them down according to His purposes and judgments (Amos 6:14; Hab. 1:5-11; Jer. 50:8-16). Eyes of faith see God’s justice roll “down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” to execute His will among the nations (Amos 5:24-27). Instead of being anxiously distracted from trusting and obeying the Lord in times of trial, Christians keep their faith set squarely upon God. Eyes of faith see God’s exalted place, power, and providence in all things. So, in reverent humility, let us pause and ponder during the psalmist’s interlude (Selah), and grasp the comfort in knowing God is our stronghold – a mighty fortress in times of trouble (Psa. 9:9; 27:5).
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah. (Psalm 32:3–4, NKJV)
We saw in 2 Samuel 11:1 in yesterday’s Sword Tips (#1843) that David was not where he should have been, when he should have been there, or doing what he should have been doing. Failing to guard himself against sin, suffering came upon David, his house, his nation, Bathsheba, Uriah, and others. David was tormented with guilt over his adultery, deception, and murder(cf. 2 Sam. 11:27). You see, covering up sin does not comfort the heart of the person who is given to doing the will of God. David was such a person – a man after God’s own heart, in fact (1 Sam. 13:14) – yet he sinned (Psa. 51:3-4). He felt the internal pain of sinning against the Lord. He could not escape the turmoil that captured the depth of his soul. His vigor was sapped from him. David inserted a suspension in the music at this point in the psalm (“Selah”) – a pause, perhaps to reflect on the gravity of sin’s destructive powers and our futility to overcome it alone. Surely we should pause and ponder the depth and guilt of our own sins and our helpless condition without the mercy of God. David’s only real escape and renewal of hope was through God’s mercy and forgiveness (Psa. 32:1-2). The same is true of us (Eph. 1:7; 2:1-10). The guilt and shame for our sins need not be our undoing. Through Christ, we obtain mercy, grace, regeneration, and hope (Tit. 3:4-7; Acts 2:37-41).