From the fountain of youth to the philosopher’s stone, humans have long been obsessed with finding a way to cheat death and achieve immortality. For most people, the solution to the problem of death is to just not think about it, to live life as if it will never end.
In today’s reading, Moses provides us with wisdom to live well. This wisdom comes from reflecting on the contrast between humanity and God. Moses reflects on the eternality of God. God is literally older than the hills (v. 2). Indeed, He is their creator. While a thousand years is enough time for about 40 generations of humans to live and die, for God it is merely “like a watch in the night” (v. 4).
Human life is fleeting. It is like grass in a desert climate that springs up in the morning, but withers and dies under the afternoon sun (v. 6). Moses reminds us, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (v. 10). This mortality is a result of sin going back to Genesis 3. Because of our sin, we are all under God’s wrath (vv. 7–9).
Often people and human institutions act as if they will endure forever. Wisdom means embracing mortality and recognizing that true life can only be provided by God. Moses asks God to “satisfy us with your unfailing love” (v. 14). He understands that we are dependent upon God for any lasting significance to our life or work (v. 17).
>> This psalm reminds us that life is short, hard, and ends in death. However, the message of the gospel is that Jesus died on our behalf and if we trust in Him, we can be forgiven and have eternal life. Jesus promises, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
No reality is too harsh while You are on the throne, God. “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble” (v. 15). We have counted the cost, and You are worth it all.