In the book of James, chapter 4 vs 14, the writer asks a stunning question, “For what is your life?” The answer comes, “It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Life is short. Earthly ambitions are empty of merit. Though some days seem like they drag, the reality is that time really does fly against the background of eternity. As a vapour appears from a warm breath on a cold winter’s morning, so too, do our lives vanish away. Psalm 39 delves into this subject with slightly more detail than what’s offered on this subject in James.
It begins with the resolve of the Psalmist to control his tongue. To harken back to James, we know that the “tongue can no man tame. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” That’s a fairly aggressive statement about something we must contend with daily in our lives. Nevertheless, David is determined to hold his peace, “even from good.” Suppressed feelings and emotions soon build up and he MUST speak, as is the nature of man. He understands in this moment just how frail he is, and it is at this time that he carries all his burdens to the Lord in humble realization of his weakness. He admits 4 things about himself that every believer could stand to grow by admitting.
1. We are frail – vs 4
2. We are finite – vs 5a
3. We are faulty – vs 5b
4. We are financially disadvantaged – vs 6
David understands himself and his life, better, through this moment of spiritual experimentation. He learns rapidly that he is a frail and weak man. He understands that his days are short, numbered, and that he is finite compared to his God who is infinite. He also understands that at his very best state, even with all his earthly glory and fame, he is vain and faulty. Most notably, this also brings him to a sobering reality regarding his earthly possessions. Once his short life is over, someone else will have all his inheritance.
But the best thing about his careful consideration and searching, is that he finally understands that His hope is completely in the Lord (vs 7). Will our earthly musings and humble considerations lead to a similar fate? We won’t know until we try.