UNDERSTANDING the FRAILTY of our LIVES: "Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them." (Psalms 39:4-6)
Psalm 39 is not a criticism of achievement or hard work, but it urges us to slow down and consider the end of our lives. Perhaps we need to stop and be quiet for a while (39:1–3). Perhaps we need to reflect on sins that have estranged us from God and confess them to Him, knowing that He is our only source of forgiveness, hope, and strength (39:7–13).
The reason for doing that is because our lives are as unsubstantial as a vapor (James 4:14). We rush around in frenzied activity, but what does it all amount to after all? We spend our lives scrimping and saving, and leave it all behind to be enjoyed by people who do not deserve it at all (Job 27:16–17; Eccl. 2:18, 21). We need to comprehend fully that our lives will pass on quickly and before we know it, will be gone forever.
We are but strangers and pilgrims on this earth (Heb. 11:13), and our life journey will not be for long. However, some people like to live life in the “fast lane.” They talk fast, get rich quick, live high, and expect to climb far. “They busy themselves in vain,” the psalmist warns. Having heaped up riches, they must leave them behind when they die (Psalms 39:5-6, 11).
King David had to remind himself that humans are frail and lives are short. Let us also understand the frailty of our lives. We are but sojourners on this planet. If we’re moving through life too quickly, it will be better for us to slow down and take time for the things pertaining to God and His kingdom. Let us repeat the prayer of Moses, the man of God:
"So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalms 90:12).