Life Is Short, Praise God! (Psalm 103:15-16)
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; ¹⁶ for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. —Psalm 103:15-16
Recently I presided over a memorial service for one of our older saints. She had spent most of her childhood in an orphanage. When I looked at her date of birth, it struck me that she had been born just two years before the Great Depression. And on the heels of the Depression came World War II. During the war, she wrote letters to the “boys” from the orphanage who served their country in battle, and she kept the home front, making incredible sacrifices for her family, friends, and country. She was part of what Tom Brokaw calls “The Greatest Generation.”
The Greatest Generation is passing away, and a new generation is rising. The Psalmist captures this reality when he says, “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psalm 103:15-16).
King David understands that life is short. But that’s not the point of Psalm 103. David points us to the brevity of life in order to magnify the grandeur of God’s steadfast, or covenant, love. Like the grass that emerges in the spring, then dies in the winter, we too will die in due season. Like a flower that grows and blossoms and blooms, only to shrivel up, fade, and die at the end of its brief cycle, so too will be our life. But God’s love for His children never dies; it will never fade! That's why David praises God for all the benefits he has received, flowing from God’s steadfast love: forgiveness of sin, redemption from the pit, and satisfaction with all that is good (103:1-5).
Taking his cue from Exodus 34:6-7 (103:6-8), David explains what God’s steadfast love is like. When our girls were younger, I tucked them into bed and told them, “I love you to the sky.” They responded, “we love you to the moon.” I would say, “I love you to the sun.” They said, “I love you more.” A father’s love is beautiful, and that is what David pictures here. Our heavenly Father’s love is as high as the sky (103:11). And He throws our sins away as far as the east is from the west (103:12). Oh, what love!
Our Father is mindful that we are fragile (103:14), and that our life is short (103:15-16). But when you compare His everlasting love with our short life, we remember that His steadfast love is everlasting to those who fear Him (103:17). That’s the point of Psalm 103. Because of His everlasting love, God is worthy to be praised.
Life is short, so praise God, for He has forgiven your sin.
Life is short, so praise God, for He has redeemed you from sin and death and hell.
Life is short, so praise God, for He has not dealt with you how your sins deserve.
Life is short, so praise God, for He has and will continue to love us as a compassionate father until He brings us home.
Life is short, so praise God!
When you consider how brief your life is, how do you respond? Does it lead you to praise God or become discouraged?
How does recounting God’s compassionate, fatherly love for His children, from the Bible and from history, lead you to praise God?
As a Christian, how does recounting God’s compassionate, fatherly love for you during this short life lead you to praise God?