Fragile Flesh, Fleeting Life (Psalm 103:15-16)
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; ¹⁶for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. —Psalm 103:15-16
Growing up in East Texas with blistering summer days, I had a first-hand look at the once-green-grass quickly turning into nothing more than dry, brown straw wilting under the oppressive sun. The glory of the grass and flowers in April and May soon became nothing more than an afterthought when the long, hot summer days arrived. The glory days of showing off their vibrant greens and various floral colors were short lived. This image the psalmist invokes is intended to remind us of the frailty and fleeting nature of our own lives. This is not happy news, nor is it intended to make us feel good about ourselves.
Just as springtime grass and flowers rise and flourish quickly, so they wilt and wither when the heat and winds come. It is the same with our lives. A new baby seems all potential and possibility but even before his first birthday, he is "outwardly wasting away" (2 Corinthians 4:16). Our days are short. While we long for eternity, we are continually reminded that our lives are quickly fleeting. I recently had a difficult battle with Covid. From being perfectly healthy one day, to ending up in ICU and receiving a grim prognosis just a few days later, I was very quickly reminded of this truth that my own life is fleeting and fading.
Whether it is unexpected death and tragedy, unavoidable sickness and disease, or feelings of despair and hopelessness, we are continually confronted with the fragile and fleeting reality of our lives on earth.
Psalm 103 is frank: next to God, our lives are bleak and frail. That's what makes His mercy and goodness so amazing. This psalm is a hymn of praise that puts the goodness and loving kindness of God at the center. The verses about humanity’s frailty and finite nature bring a humbling and sobering reminder that there is nothing within us that deserves God’s gracious invitation to salvation.
Our inability to save (or even extend) our own lives is bad news if it stands alone. But Psalm 103 answers this reality with glimmers of gospel hope. Against the backdrop of God's glory and splendor we are nothing. Our current, fallen state has left us unable to live and flourish in the presence of the holy and righteous God. But there is good news and hope for us. Christ has traded His life for ours. He took our broken and frail humanity upon Himself. He lived the perfect life we are unable to live, and traded our brokenness for His righteousness. In Christ Jesus we are being transformed from grass and flowers that wilt and fade, to heirs that will receive the crown of life (James 1:12). Because of His work, “we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). For this, we bless the Lord.
When faced with your own frailty and fragility, what is your response? Are you reminded of your need for salvation? Pray and ask God to produce a response of awe and worship for who He is and what He has done for you in Christ.
Repeat the gospel to yourself daily to remember and celebrate that Jesus has given us new life and an eternal hope that is unfading.
Who around you is discouraged by the fleeting nature of our lives on earth? Pray for opportunities to remind them of the hope that is in Jesus.
A native Texan, Daniel Bond now resides in the Cleveland, Ohio area with his wife Jenny and their two children, Asher and Gracie. He is a graduate of Denver Seminary and LeTourneau University. Since 2005, he has served in vocational ministry and now serves as the principal at a classical Christian school. Scripture memory has been a part of his life as long as he can remember and he is committed to passing that on to his own children, as well as the students in his school.
Note: Bond says of his recovery from COVID, “Praise God, I’ve made a full and complete recovery! Though my doctor told me that I was 'standing on death’s doorstep,’ I don’t have any lingering side effects or symptoms.”