Withering Grass, Fading Flowers
Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field (v.6).
Elton Trueblood, noted Quaker author, educator, philosopher, theologian, former chaplain both to Harvard and Stanford Universities, and advisor to US Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, wrote 33 books, including the provocative The Predicament of Modern Man (1944). In this book, Trueblood warned of the dangers of a “cut-flower civilization.” He wrote, “Beautiful as cut flowers may be . . . they die because they are severed from their sustaining roots.” Without God, human life is transient and temporary.
Trueblood was not the first to liken mankind to flowers. Nearly 2,700 years earlier, Isaiah was told by God to “shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field” (Isaiah 40:6). The frailty and brevity of human existence is graphically represented by the twin metaphors of grass and flowers. Three times God emphatically reminds us that human life is fragile and fleeting: “The grass withers and the flowers fade” (vv.6-8).
Isaiah was to shout this news first: mankind is transitory and mortal. Death is imminent, inevitable, and inescapable (vv.6-8). Man is helplessly hopeless. But Isaiah was to shout even louder the good news (v.9): “Your God is coming!” to rule (v.10) because He cares for you (v.11). The eternal, omnipotent, victorious, sovereign God was coming to rescue and reign over His people (v.10), to be the Good Shepherd who tenderly carries His flock in His arms, gently leading, benevolently providing, and securely protecting His sheep (vv.9-11).
We may be withering and fading, but you and I have become much more perennial and valuable than mere grass and flowers (Matthew 6:26). For, in loving us, saving us, and giving us eternal life, God has bestowed upon us immeasurable value, great significance, indestructibility, immortality, and everlasting glory (Isaiah 43:3).
Read Isaiah 43:3 to discover how much God loves, values, and honors you.