Peace to Mere Breath in Psalm 39

Peace to Mere Breath in Psalm 39

Good discipleship throughout our lives trains us in the ways of God. Throughout my grief I have prayed that God would establish his ways in my life. In other words, I was saying, “Take control of my life in this turbulence called loss.” I don’t know what his specific will is for me in so many ways. I don’t know if I even have the wisdom I need. It’s easier to plead with him that he will guard my ways.

“I said, ‘I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle…’” Psalm 39:1

I’ve sought to be disciplined, walk with God, and to live according to his ways most of my life. I seek to guard my ways, avoid sin, and muzzle my mouth. After all, James reminds us “…the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness” (James 3:6).

Nothing gives emphasis to the discipleship you’ve received as loss does. Clarity is delivered right to your door.

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 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!” Psalm 39:4-5

Trying to do your best is of little benefit. James talks about the need for faith and works in tandem. They go together. Faith without works is dead, he says (James 2:17). Paul talks about working out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).

All the study and application could not do what loss did for me. He made me to know my end. Granted, he had told me. But loss convinced me. This is my failure. He delivered to me an accurate measuring stick. The fleeting nature of life is alarming when you’re forced to face it. Just a few handbreadths. Mere breath. A drop in the bucket.

David compares our times to a shadow. We work so hard for wealth, and then we do not know who ends up with it. Life is fleeting. Vanity of vanities says Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7

Our hope is not in the temporal but the eternal. We hope only in him. We wait only for him. He is the one who delivers us. We depend on him and not in our own strength or wisdom. When you face fleeting life, you go to the Creator of life. It’s always good to know your place and remain humble. Besides, all mankind is a mere breath (Psalm 39:11). See, he is telling you. What loss shows clearly has already been spoken.

He rescues us from ourselves and delivers us. We stand as recipients of his goodness and not our own. He does exceeding abundantly beyond anything we can do, ask, or imagine (Ephesians (3:20).

“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.” Psalm 39:12

We cry out to the Lord and beseech that he hears us. We know our place and we petition him to hear us. We beg for peace from within our weeping. When you face death, you recognize that every generation before you met death. Their traveling came to an end. We are passing through life as a sojourner. Tears prevail, but peace is coming.

All of mankind stands as a mere breath; and yet, peace is made available as a gift, even in the most painful of journeys.

“Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!” Psalm 39:13


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