Wisdom To Understand The Life Expectancy – Psalm 39

Observing life expectancy emerged in the 19th century for the first time when human death rates attributed to the rise in diseases, started increasing exponentially with time. The life expectancy data attributed various causes to the climbing death rate numbers, and people worked out scientific solutions to enhance the life span of people. Moses had a thought about this when people died in the wilderness, and he prayed to God to give him the wisdom to number his days, approximately during 1500 BC. He did not explore the cause of their death but asked God for awareness to understand the short span of life. In this Psalm, David expressed his understanding of the short span of life, while many think that their life never ends. As a result, they do not fear God, and even in their old age, they do not feel bad about doing evil.

Suppressing Emotions Accelerate Anger

I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

Psalms 39:1-3

The Psalmist tried to calm himself by not replying to his accusers and enemies. He thought that remaining silent would give him peace. While we control our lips and tongues, we do not control our thoughts and emotions. Rather we ignite them more and more without giving space for letting out our fury. Anger and frustration build up, and finally, it comes out of our mouths like consuming fire.

Being silent in the presence of our enemies is good because then our weaknesses would not come to light. Moreover, evildoers twist our words for the worse and manipulate them to spoil our image. Remaining silent by entrusting everything in the hands of God is entirely different from controlling our anger and keeping quiet. When we rely on God, we will understand His plan in every critical situation. Knowing His plan will help us remain silent. Our silence will be transformed into joy when we know His will.

Knowing His Father’s will, Jesus endured sufferings with joy (Hebrews 12:2). He kept silent during the trial, that if given answers, they would frame charges against Him. If Jesus had replied, there would have been charges against Him, and it might have appeared that Jesus died for His mistakes. Jesus remained silent to prove that He died because of the sins of the multitude and not for His.

Knowing Our End

Show me, LORD, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.
Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
without knowing whose it will finally be.

Psalms 39:4-6

God does not disclose our last breath in advance and keeps it a secret. For patients, doctors predict their last day on earth, but for the patient, it is a secret till they land in a hospital. If man knew his end, he could not live the life given to him at ease. However, our life span is shorter, and one should utilize this short time to connect with God. The more we know that our life is short, the more we invest that lifetime to gain entry into His Kingdom.

Knowing our life span, we will curtail our wasteful endeavours and boasting. We do not know what will happen to the wealth we gathered. Most of us do not understand this and toil all days of our life to earn nothing but pain.

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God (Luke 12:20-21).” Understanding this while living on this earth is the greatest of our spiritual boons.

Wealth Is Consumed

But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
for you are the one who has done this.
Remove your scourge from me;
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
you consume their wealth like a moth —
surely everyone is but a breath.

Psalms 39:7-11

Analyzing the destiny of people who trusted in their wealth, the author willingly put His trust in God. He urged God to save him from his sins and not allow the fools to mock him. The author learned to keep quiet with the understanding that whatever is happening in this world is the decision made by God.

In Psalm 37, the Psalmist observed the righteous people and how generously they lend. He also witnessed their children blessed by God. In this Psalm in the previous verses, the Psalmist understood the fragile life, and here he watched the destruction of wealth possessed by the rich people. He watched people’s wealth consumed like a moth by God. In the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus correcting people who trust in their wealth.

When we rely only on our wealth, zealous God confiscates the wealth to draw us near Him. Not understanding God, people tend to go far away from God when they experience losses. Job’s wife went with the trend of this world, while Job clung to God in his trouble.

Hear my prayer, LORD,
listen to my cry for help;
do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
before I depart and am no more.”

Psalms 39:12-13

People who understand God have the privilege of calling Him at all times. Seeing the plight of his ancestors, the author understood his state and called him a stranger. While God calls us His people, somehow, we feel like strangers to God. Till the hand of God lays heavy on us to correct us, we cannot live normally. One can pretend to live peacefully but the fakeness will come to light when challenges come. Loving God more and more every day will make us His children, and we do not feel like strangers anymore.

The Psalmist realized that his days were short on this earth and pleaded to God to take away His hand so that he could enjoy life again. It appears that he wants to live a carefree life and does not need correction from God. Yet, realizing that, a little time left, he wants to set the right things to remove the heavy hand of God from him. We all know that once our life departs from our bodies, we cannot ask pardon for our sins. It is better to come to God while we are alive to make our souls live forever.

Loving Heavenly Father, while outwardly we are wasting away, please do renew us inwardly day by day. 


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