Drilling deep in the word


Psalm 78:39

“He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.”

“The secret wheels of hurrying time do give; So short a warning. And so fast they drive, that I am dead before I seem to live…. – Francis QuarlesPosted 11/08/13

By Reverend Ray

Out walking in the North Dakota prairie this past week, I was privileged to a panorama of the unfolded vastness of the open plain. Of course, such an experience is foreign to the narrow valleys pressed deep into the mountains and plateaus of Central Pennsylvania where I had spent most of my life.

Equally impressing was the unshackled wind that rushed across the dry grasses as if on an unstoppable mission. It swept past me with not so much as the tip of a hat, and was gone as quickly as it sprang up all the while never suggesting that it would pass that way again to make amends for its rudeness.

It was with the same kind of rude precipitateness with which the Psalmist saw life. Indeed, we need not stretch far our gaunt glance at life to see that it is tripping along at breakneck speed to a mere chorus in time.

Perhaps no culture is more trapped in the rut of life’s brevity than here in America. We are on the one hand rushing about as if we are fully cognizant of the curtness of life and in the same breath living as if we are entirely oblivious of its shortness.

As C. H. Spurgeon, the nineteenth century English preacher, noted; “What a nothing is our life.” How aptly the Psalmist has here called to attention our frailty; like the wind, it rises, rushes across the stage of time and is gone, never to pass that way again.

Job reflected on this when he said; “But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?”So also, wind boasts its power as it roars across an open grassland but is effortlessly displaced and defused when it meets with the obstacles of hills and trees so that on the lee side there remains no sign of her boasting.

As well, human life runs along effortlessly as long as it is not confronted with any obstacle of disease, sickness or accident to expose her fragility.

It is to me yet baffling that just as the blast of wind smacks soberingly upon the face, that man face to face with the reality of his own fragility, remains content to ignore the manifestation of God’s mercy to him.

He is inescapably confronted with the swiftness with which time and life and strength melt away like wax figures in an August sun, yet he sees not the shadow of God’s mercy that will save him. Francis Quarles intimates daringly in his poem the dilemma of man’s fragile existence. He goes on to ask; “And what is life? The flourishing array of the proud summer-meadow, which to-day wears her green plush, and is to-morrow hay.”

But it is in the context of this frailness and brevity that is life, that we are met with God’s great mercy. Indeed, it is on the short stage of life that God’s mercy is magnified before man.

Because he is not ignorant of man’s fragility, He finds in it the opportunity to put on display His love and compassion to the fleeting man. He acknowledges; “… My spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh: nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”(Gen.6:3) and again in Psalm 103:14; “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” So He has stretched out His mercy through the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, that man might have brevity and fragility erased through eternal life in Him. Thus He has inverted the curse of life making it a mere stepping stone to the threshold of eternity.

Indeed man’s fragility is his great ally if he but acknowledges it and launches himself upon the mercy of God. John Calvin here notes; “His spirit goeth forth, and returneth not,” (Wisdom 16:14;) language which implies that men, when they are born into the world, do not bring with them the hope of future restoration, which must be derived from the grace of regeneration.1”We would conclude it irrational to ignore the reality of man’s fragile existence.

Can we then in light of our fragility not concede that we are all objects of God’s mercy to sustain us upon every breath?


Dribble from the pen


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