Psalm 39 (Listen)
39:1 I said, “I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent;
I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse.
3 My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
4 “O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.
8 Deliver me from all my transgressions.
Do not make me the scorn of the fool!
9 I am mute; I do not open my mouth,
for it is you who have done it.
10 Remove your stroke from me;
I am spent by the hostility of your hand.
11 When you discipline a man
with rebukes for sin,
you consume like a moth what is dear to him;
surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah
12 “Hear my prayer, O LORD,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest, like all my fathers.
13 Look away from me, that I may smile again,
before I depart and am no more!”
“Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!” (Psalm 39:6)
This Psalm confronts us with the truth that even if we live to a ripe old age, life is really quite brief — “a mere breath” (verse 5). So what are you heaping up in these brief days? Are you storing up treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy (Matthew 6:19-21) or piling up things in the basement, garage and offsite storage –things that will probably just be thrown away when you die? Are we rushing around in vain trying to manage stuff, or are we doing something that has eternal impact? Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. Keeping a heavenly perspective before us everyday can help us stay focused on what is most important in a world that tells us more is better.