Live Your Only Life
Dr. Jerry A. Collins
You get one life and one life
only here on earth. Life cannot be started over again. What remains of it
for you must be guided by wisdom. Moses was an older man now. He knew the
inevitable. He now knows that neither he nor the Israelites with him who
rebelled in the wilderness would see a successful end to their wanderings. The
entire generation would die by Godís wrath against sin. The remainder of their
days and the lives of the next generation need Godís favor. They need to learn wisdom and
submit themselves to God for blessing. This Psalm is a statement about
the reality of existence.
WHILE HUMAN LIFE IS FLEETING, GOD IS ETERNAL
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (Verses 1-2).
The Psalm begins with an
affirmation of faith Lord, You have been
our dwelling place in all generations. The God of the Bible is a safe
haven. God had, of course proven himself to be both Lord and our dwelling place to
His people even before they formed as a nation in the land. He is the reason
they exist. The verse stresses the sovereignty of the Lord as creator You gave birth to the earth and the world.
The underlying point is that the Sovereign God precedes creation. He is God even from everlasting to everlasting.
The devout find comfort that God is always with them as our perpetual
Application: The God we worship has no
rivals. There is no God who can compare. Our reliance upon Him is possible
because our God is capable of caring for our every need.
GOD SOVEREIGNLY BRINGS
HUMAN LIFE TO A SWIFT END†
You turn man back into dust and say, "Return, O children of men. ďFor a thousand years in
Your sight are like yesterday when it
passes by, or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; toward evening it fades and withers away (Verses 3-6).
In contrast to Gods eternal
sovereignty is manís human frailty You
turn man back into dust. When sin entered the human experience mankindís
dream of divinity died too. Man is not like God after all. By divine decree God
say[s], "Return, O children of men meaning Ďyou are mere mortalsí. People might not think of lifeís
brevity when all is well, but death comes quickly and you are gone. But
time is different for God ďFor a thousand
years in Your sight are like yesterday when it
passes by, or as a watch in the night. From Gods eternal perspective
human life is so brief its almost insignificant.
Life and people are fleeting
and frail You [God] have swept them away like a flood, they
fall asleep. Human life is a whimper then comes the sleep of death. Once that
life seemed vigorous in the morning they
are like grass which sprouts anew. Vitality, activity and accomplishment
made it seem so in the morning it
flourishes and sprouts anew. However, as with all life toward evening it fades and withers away. Morning and evening are
pictures of the beginning and end of life. There is one. Then the other is
Application: Humans may flourish for a
time, a brief time, but in the end their life is ended and they wither away. And, by the way, there are no
u-hauls behind a hearse.
THE SWIFT END TO HUMAN LIFE
IS DUE TO SIN ††
For we have been consumed by Your anger and by Your wrath we have been dismayed. You have placed our iniquities
before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence. For all our days have declined in Your fury; we have finished our years like a sigh. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly
away (Verses 7-10).
reason for human lifeís terrible affliction is Godís anger over sin we have been consumed by Your anger and by Your wrath we have been dismayed. Sin is the cause of all suffering and death. In
context, this level of intensity,
consumed and dismayed, can be
found in Israelís wilderness rebellions and wanderings. There, every adult
twenty years of age or older, at the beginning of the journey, were destined to
die in the wilderness. The sins of the people cannot be hidden You
have placed our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your
presence. Even our most secret sins
are openly known by God. The brevity of life reminds us
of this divine death sentence upon our sins for
all our days have declined in Your fury; we have finished our years like
The days pass quickly and soon
the years go by, one by one, until life ends. What we need, of course, is
forgiveness for sins and divine compassion for a longer and better life. But
for now, the focus is on the sequence of sin, wrath, and death. Just how long
do we have before life slips away? As for
the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years. How much is left for you? The
adults in the wilderness wanderings could count their remaining days
accordingly. Here is what the years of our human life will look like yet their pride is but labor and sorrow. Even the best years, the ones
they could boast about were filled with trouble and sadness. Times passes
quickly for soon it is gone and we fly
away. It is a fleeting life and then suddenly the finality of death.
Application: Godís rightful indignation
over human sin reminds us that all are sinners and deserve divine wrath. This
reality is highlighted whenever collective sin is the focus.
GODíS WRATH UPON SIN
INSTRUCTS US TO USE OUR TIME WISELY
Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom (Verses 11-12).
The rhetorical question asserts that no one understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You. Gods anger and fury is related
to the fear that is due You [God]. People seldom connect sin and
mortality, so they keep on sinning. John 3:36 says He
who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will
not see life, but the wrath of God
abides on him. The believer has everlasting life right now and
by contrast the unbeliever has Godís wrath right now. If that remains unchanged
and they die in unbelief without the fear of God, Godís wrath will end, and
they will then experience Godís justice by being cast into the Lake of Fire
(Revelation 20:15). People
reap what they sow. Godís wrath upon sin will culminate with just
However, devout people
understand the reason for Godís anger, and so pray for Godís wisdom in His Word
as they live on earth so teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Wisdom begins with divine revelation and so the
appeal is for God to teach us. The
object of this teaching is to number our
days. Not just
counting, but planning, executing, and evaluating the activities of the years
of life. The outcome is realizing how short and fleeting is life, and
how important to plan out the use of our time. The result of this endeavor is that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
A life of wisdom characterizes one who has the right affections, makes the proper choices, and is
morally productive. This pays dividends after death, in eternity.
Application: What you are taking with you at the end of your life is
your discipleship, i.e., your conformity to Jesus Christ. Radically pursue
Christlikeness, the essence of wisdom.
GODS WRATH ON SIN REQUIRES SEEKING COMPASSION TO LIVE JOYFUL LIVES ††
Do return, O Lord; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. O satisfy us in the morning with Your
lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our
us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, and the years we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to
Your servants and Your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon
us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of
our hands (Verses 13-17).
The prayer is for God to turn
back from His course of Judgment over sins do return, O Lord; how long will it be?
They want to know when Godís anger will cease. Then they appeal for Gods
compassion instead and be sorry for Your servants. This is the only way prospects
will change. If Godís wrath relents and He turns to compassion it will satisfy us in the morning with Your
lovingkindness, that we
may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
So the prayer is for gladness, not just in the moment, but for as many days as
he afflicted them make us glad according
to the days You have afflicted us, and the years we have seen evil. The favor of God would fill them with joyful singing rather then
lamenting their days.
They have endured years of suffering for sin. They are ready for
divine blessing, but they want Godís compassion displayed to them in a
marvelous way let Your work appear to
Your servants and Your majesty to their children. Then they would all know
that God has heard their prayer. Not only this, but they also want their own
work to be established let the favor of
the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands. They want God to take
pleasure in them so their lives will flourish. It is an appeal to God to enable them to have a
productive life, one with value yes,
confirm the work of our hands. Once weak and perishing, they now
appeal to God for divine favor, blessing, and a joyful productive life to
Application: The easiest way to live your
life, is to live it for an audience of one. If your only interest is to please
God, you will face conflict, but never be conflicted.
violating Godís character, is what brings trouble and despair to life, and then
life of faith enables wise living that gets beyond sins curse to a productive
Godís selective favor will that your fleeting life has eternal significance. †