Number Your Days
Jerry A Collins
Everyone of us ponder questions about how significant our lives may be. We want our lives to count for something. Life is simply too short to be wasted. That significance can only be found as we understand our relationship to God as we live our lives here on earth. This Psalm contrast Godís eternity with human brevity and confesses that while our lives pass away in Gods wrath, we can pray that our compassionate God would give His people success and their labors and joy for their sorrows. This will make our lives significant and meaningful.
1. WE CAN DECLARE THE GREATNESS OF OUR GOD 1-2
Our God simply has no rivals. There is no other God like Him. For instance:
A. In every generation people have taken refuge in him 1. A dwelling place is a place of protection. He is our sovereign, Lord, as well as our shelter, dwelling place. We are His to command though he is ours to enjoy. God exists as a home for man. We see this whenever people call on us to pray, just as our president elect did last week for himself, his opponent and our nation.
B. Our God is the Creator of everything 2. From the latest geological fact, the formation of mountains, and before that to the fertile earth and then before that to the world, the earliest geological fact, from which all of this was formed. The formation of mountains back to the emergence of land and finally back to the creation of the earth itself, god produced it all.
C. Our God is everlasting 2b. Before all of creation, God existed. He is beyond and above his creation. He is greater than everything he produced and existed before all of it. He never begins and never ends. He never grows old and is above all the limitations of time. Compared to the greatness of our God, mankind has none.
2. COMPARED TO GODS GREATNESS OUR LIVES ARE BRIEF AND FRAIL 3-6
Here we have a series of comparisons that display how brief and frail our lives are.
A. We will return to dust 3. God sets limits to life. There are certain things he will not let us do. We could never explore what God does not permit us to explore and when we try he says turn back o children of men. Eventually that means returning to dust which conveys the idea of being pulverized like dust. That is where all of us eventually return. In the meantime only what He permits happens.
B. Our lifetime is short 4. It may be that God originally intended a 1000 year lifespan for man. For instance, in Genesis man lived almost a thousand years and the oldest, Methuselah, lived 969 years before sin began to spread thru the earth. But even 1000 years, even the longest possible lifespan for man, compared with Gods greatness is but as yesterday. Or like a watch in the night which lasted about four hours.
C. We have no control over how long we are to live 5-6. Suddenly God sweeps us away to death like a swollen river overflowing its banks sweeping away everything in its path. No ones life is at all certain. Men can suddenly disappear from the scene. But even if they do not, their lives are but as grass which is renewed in the morning and withers in the heat of the day. Even a normal lifespan gradually decays and deteriorates until like grass there in the morning but gone in the evening. History is the rise and fall of men who appear for a brief time and then disappear. I enjoy reading about them. Human life is indeed frail and brief. Buy why?
3. OUR LIVES ARE TRANSITORY BECAUSE OF GODS WRATH AGAINST SIN 7-12
Here we see that sin brings a death sentence. This universal shadow over our human existence reminds us of the seriousness with which God views our sin.
A. Our sin is the cause of Gods wrath 7-8. Gods anger and wrath against us has done two things to us. First it has consumed us meaning that Godís wrath has been spent, there is nothing left. Second we have been overwhelmed by it like an army facing disaster. All of this because God sees mans sins even the so-called secret sins are open to him. even the ones we only mull over and play with, those inner defilementís are front page news to him. When man refuses to yield himself to God he creates certain conditions which God has ordained for harm as consequence of life minus God. That absence is Gods wrath he cannot withhold.
B. No matter the length, sin fills our lives with trouble 9-11. Since man is a sinner all his life is spent under Gods wrath and finishes with a sigh indicating prolonged effort that has come to nothing 9. Mans life is greatly diminished to 70 or possibly 80 years from the 1000 God originally determined. No matter our achievements this will never be reversed. No matter how long we live, our days will be filled with sorrow and troubles that mark the presence of Gods wrath. In spite of these signs of Gods displeasure we will ignore the fact of Gods wrath. We will pretend it does not exist. We will blame society. We will do so because we live only for the moment.
C. Gods wrath must keep us aware of the limitations of life 12. Because life is so brief and because it is spent under Gods wrath on sin we must have a realistic outlook of life. Facing it the way it is and not pretending and ignoring that. Then we can fully reckon with the relationships of man to God.
4. OUR ONLY HOPE IS GODS COMPASSION & FAVOR 13-17
Here is a prayer that begs for a reversal of all of this.
A. We must pray for Gods mercy 13. God had rebuked man with his turn back to dust in vs 3. Now man returns this cry to God turn back for mercy. Do not give to us what we deserve. This desire is key to what follows.
B. We must pray for joys to balance our sorrows 14-15. While all of our days are under Gods wrath we can pray that all of these days will also be full of joy. Even believers will continue to experience the consequences of Gods wrath on this world. But we can ask God to let us rejoice for as long as He has given us over to trouble in this life. A joy that makes up for the past and sees God continually correcting what once looked like a hopeless situations. While we too, may have the night of trouble, we also have the hope of the morning to satisfy us.
C. We must pray to enjoy success in our labors even though life is short 16-17. Not only that Gods work endure but that our labor will not be something wasted so that it is worth facing the unwelcome facts of time, wrath and death. With Gods favor we feel worthwhile as we share in Gods work here.