“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years.”
When we are young we think we will live forever; death, even aging, is for other people. As we age, we still cannot imagine a world of which we are not a part. Yet, the Psalmist is making clear, we have been designed by God with a shelf life. In other words, one day we will expire. The bodies that we live in will no longer be able to sustain life, and we will move on to an eternal habitation. James put it like this, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away ” (James 4:14). The word ‘vapor’ is defined as, “diffused matter floating in the air impairing its transparency.” In other words, a vapor is only slightly more than nothing. It speaks of the fact that life on earth is transitory, not permanent. This does not mean that life is meaningless.
God actually places the highest value upon human life. We know He formed us in the womb as the highest expression of His creation. We are told we are made in the image of God, and after the fall we were redeemed by the blood of God. That being said, it is possible to live a meaningless life. The Bible speaks, on more than one occasion, of “worthless men.” Calling them worthless does not mean that God did not value them highly, but rather, they were wasting life, instead of living it. When they timed out and their lives came to an end, they had nothing eternal to show for it. When James refers to life as a vapor, he is reminding us that life is temporary.
No matter what your diet or exercise program consists of, death is certain. It has been proven that the death rate among human beings is 100%. One hundred years from now none of us will be alive. Now I am not saying this to depress you, but to prepare you. You see, while life is temporary it is also preparatory. What we do now prepares us for where and how we will spend eternity. We might benefit from thinking of life as the preliminary round. When asked the meaning of life, Rick Warren put it like this, “In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever and God wants us to be in heaven with Him. We may spend 60-100 years here but we will spend trillions in heaven. This is the warm up act”
We are prepared for death when we have received Christ and are surrendered to, and serving Him. As a result, the Psalmist encourages us, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).” Since we have limited time, seventy or perhaps eighty years, we are encouraged to number them. We need to understand, there is a limited number and we must spend them wisely.
Let’s do it. * 70 x 365 = 25,550 * , now multiply your age x 365 *, subtract that number from 25, 550 * I have 8,760 days left * I am 65% done. Another way of looking at it is, if my life were a book, I am two-thirds done. The plot has been set, the main characters developed, and the final act is being set up. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What are we writing on today’s page? What, from today, will last for eternity?” If we have prepared for eternity by receiving Christ, we further prepare by living each day in light of eternity.
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1
Questions for Psalm 90
- What do you think it means that the Lord is our dwelling place?
- In verse 4-12, the Psalmist compares the eternal nature of God with the temporal nature of man. Knowing that in light of eternity, life is very short. What changes do you need to make in the way you are living?
- The response of the Psalmist is important. What do you notice from his prayer in:
- Verse 14
- Verse 17