Psalm 39

Psalm 39 has David dealing with his enemies and the prospect of them dragging him into sin.  He realizes that his words and what flows from his tongue has the potential of making him a sinner equal with the wicked around him.  “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence”.  His words are wise – we must guard our words and ways as the tongue can get us into trouble very quickly.  David found it easier to speak nothing than to speak wisely. He soon felt the pressure that one feels when intense feelings are kept silent and those feelings welled up inside him.

So David asks God to “make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am”!  David’s silence was broken in the best way – by humble prayer to God.  He realized that life is but a moment on the timeline of God, and he understood the frailty of his life.  It doesn’t last forever, at least here on earth.  Life is eternal, but our time on earth is measured in days.  Eternity, on the other hand, lasts forever and David knows that how he lives will determine what that eternity will look like.

David compares is life to handbreaths.  “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you”.  He compares it to a ‘handbreadth,’ one of the smallest units of measurement in ancient Israel. It is equivalent to ‘a couple of inches’.  We might have expected David to break his silence by telling off his enemies or by defending his own righteousness. He did neither; he sought God for wisdom.  David recognized that his life was a breath to God.  He wasn’t the center of the universe but a mere dot on the timeline of eternity.

But David gives us the only real answer to that reality.  “My hope is in you”.  Short and sweet but the only truth about life.  He is the only place for us to put our hope.  David perceived the shortness and frailty of his life.  He put his expectation and hope in God and not in himself. If he walked in right standing and friendship with the Living God, David could understand and prepare for life beyond this life. He merely shuts his mouth and recognizes that his life is authored and directed by the God of the Universe and he has nothing to say.  “I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it”.  Life is about God.  He is the one behind our curtain!


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