The Brevity of Life and the Last Word on Death (Thoughts on Psalm 39)

graveyard-534616_640Have you ever prayed this prayer?

“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.”

David uttered this request in Psalm 39:4. He is keenly aware of life’s brutal brevity, for he then proclaims, “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:5).

Yes, this life is short, especially when compared to eternity. Forever is a long time, while our years on earth are but a drop in the bucket. Take a breath, David says, and reflect on just how quickly the decades pass.

I was recently reminded of this sobering fact. I came to the office and was told that one of my co-workers had not yet arrived. The supervisor had phoned her but got no response. Concerned, the supervisor drove to Alice’s house to check on her.

Tragically and unexpectedly, Alice had died over the weekend. She could be seen through the window, lying on the couch. We don’t know the cause of death yet; it will probably take weeks for the autopsy results to be revealed. All we know is that our friend and co-worker is gone. She was here one day and gone the next.

Since her passing, our department has been in a perpetual daze. Sadness pervades the air like a fog that will not lift.  It seems so surreal. As I walk by her empty desk throughout the day, the memory of her sitting there, working away, remains strong.

Yet death is not surreal. It is the reality we face very day yet are eager to sweep under the rug. We make jokes about our “bucket list,” as if we have any control over how long we get to stay here for yet another day of fun and frolic.

What do we do when death rears its ugly head and laughs in our face? Make no mistake, death is not our friend. It is the enemy, and on any given day, while we pretend to look the other way, it appears to have the upper hand.

And so it is with great comfort that we turn to the Word of God to get the last word on death. God has spoken about the fate of this gruesome foe. One day, death will die the ugliest of deaths. For the believer in Jesus, our hope in the certainty of the resurrection overcomes the devastating inevitability of death. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too will be experience the resurrection of our bodies at the last day.

The Apostle Paul explains the wonderful truth that should be the cause of much delight in the heart of a true Christian: “For he (Jesus) must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

As sad as I’ve been over my co-worker’s death, there is reason to rejoice — because Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has overcome death. “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Thanks be to God for the victory Jesus has won over the last enemy!

Wayne Davies

Wayne Davies

To receive 2 free gifts to help you read, study and understand the Bible, just click on my picture (to the left) or my name (directly above).
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