Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom (v.12).
When Sinclair Lewis, Nobel Prize winner for Literature, died and was cremated in 1951, his ashes were sent to Rome’s American embassy for disposal. One morning a visitor noticed a worker on her knees with a dustpan and broom. Next to her was an overturned urn. When asked what she was doing, she replied nonchalantly, “Sweeping up Sinclair Lewis.” What a picture of the transient nature of the human experience! This is why the Bible says: “He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust” (Psalms 103:14).
Dust is only one of many images the Bible uses to describe the transient nature of the human experience. Human beings are like grass and flowers—living briefly and passing quickly (Job 14:2; Psalms 90:5). Moreover, human beings are like fleeting shadows (1 Chronicles 1:15). Sometimes the image of shadows is joined with other images (a dying lake and drying river) to indicate the brevity of life (Job 14:1).
Other images of transience are breath and wind (Psalms 144:4). There are additional images and metaphors that describe the brevity of life: a cloth that wears out (Psalms 102:25), a fleeting dream (90:5), a swift runner (Job 9:25) and a weaver’s shuttle (Job 7:6). Yet another image of the transient nature of the human experience is numbers. Counting the years of human life indicates that it’s measurable; it has a beginning and it has an end (Genesis 6:3; Psalms 90:10).
God has given us the gift of time, but because it’s so brief we’re instructed to recognize its brevity, number our days, use our time wisely, seek God while He may be found, awaken people from their sleep and invite them to receive the free gift of salvation, and make the most of opportunities that God brings our way.
ReadJames 4:14 and discover another image of transience—the brevity of life.
Knowing that we have a limited amount of time on earth, how are you using your time with wisdom? What are you doing to invest your time and energy in things that are eternal?