Reading: Psalm 103 (Verses 13-18)
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts (NIV).
Last week I heard a news report that stated that new research has led astronomers to realize that there are ten times more stars in the universe than they previously estimated. A minor miscalculation you may assume. Not really!
Our own Milky Way galaxy contains about 400 billion stars of varying sizes. The most recent astronomical estimate counts 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe. To do a rough calculation of the total number of stars in the universe, you multiply 400 billion stars X 170 billion galaxies and get a number with twenty-five zeroes tacked on the end. Now that’s astronomical!
So how does that ginormous number connect with today’s reading from Psalm 103? It tells us the LORD’s concern and care for us are nothing short of astounding. The God who created all that vast array of stars cares even for you and me. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Dust… We are nothing more than dust. From dust we were formed and to dust we will return. (See Genesis 3:19.) Yet despite our humble origin and our body’s grave fate, we have a God who has the compassion of a father for his children. Furthermore, this care and compassion is not fleeting; it’s eternal. Our time on earth may be transitory, but God’s love for us persists. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Why would a God of such infinite capacity commit Himself to a creature of such miniscule significance? The LORD is mind-boggling; God is completely mind-boggling! You can see it in the stars. You can count it in the grains of dust—dust that the LORD loves!
Response: Father God, you are matchless. There is none like you. Your compassion is astonishing. Your grandeur is beyond my ability to even imagine. I love you, LORD. I bow in awe. Amen.
Your Turn: How big is your God? How tiny are you before this awesome God?
Reading: Psalm 90
A prayer of Moses the man of God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered (NIV).
In case you have not noticed, your life on this earth is temporal. It won’t last forever. In fact, there is very little on this earth that fits into the “lasts forever category.” My car fits well into this rusty, temporal category. My physical body will suffer a similar fate. My morning aches and pains remind me of this outcome. In this psalm Moses states the obvious when he makes this declaration: You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
James, the brother of our Lord, makes a similar observation: You should know better than to say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!” What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears (James 4:13-14).
Only God stands apart, above and beyond this temporal world. He is the ageless One, untouched by time. This assertion holds true. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
The entire book of Ecclesiastes addresses the topic of the temporal nature of human life. Glenn Fobert has written an excellent book that explains the true meaning of that puzzling book: Everything Is Mist: Ecclesiastes on Life in a Puzzling and Troubled Temporary World
Life is not meaningless or vanity. According to Fobert, scholars have mistranslated the Hebrew word for mist in Ecclesiastes. Life is like a morning fog that lifts and it is gone. Where has it gone? It goes to the eternal One, the Creator of all life. How then should we live? Ecclesiastes gives us the answer. Simply live in full reverence and praise to your Maker.
Response: LORD God, I thank you for being the author of this wonderful thing called life. Today I want to live in humble thanksgiving and praise to you. Let my work, words and conduct honor you. Amen.
Your Turn: Is the Lord your dwelling place? Are you at home with Him?