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  Bro. Tom’s Weekly Bible Study
  Week #141
Posted: January 29,2008

PSALM 39:4-6

We continue our study this week of this grand Psalm.  I mentioned last week that many believe this is a continuance of Psalm 38 when David remembered his past.

            I call our attention this week to verses 4-6, which says, “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.”  I am calling this section “David’s Perception”

            In verse 3 we are confronted with ‘David’s Perceiving A Condition’.  In verses 1-3 David has remained silent about this condition but finally he opens his mouth and cries out ‘LORD,” If we are in need of venting our souls it will be better to vent them God-ward rather than man-ward.  Our Lord will be much more patient with our venting and his purity cannot be stained by our rambling words.  David desires to know something about his condition.  He wants to know his ‘end’.  Literally he wants to know ‘when I shall cease to be’.  He desires to know the ‘measure’ of his days. How many days do I have left? Why would David want to know this? There are two reasons for this inquiry.  One is that this life of sorrow and heartache will come to pass and we will enter into a land of eternal bliss.  David desires to know when that will be.  The second reason is David wants to be reminded of how frail he is.  The days of our life are not a count of chance but are well measured out days of purpose.  Lord, help me to number my days and redeem the time for the days are short.  Lord, help me to make my life count for you.  “Only one life twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

            In verse 5 ‘David Is Perceiving A Contrast’.  David contrasts the length of his days with that of the Lord’s.  David begins this verse with the word ‘Behold’. The word means to look at with great intensity.  God used the smallest of measurements for our days.  He measures them with a ‘handbreadth’.  It is the length of the smallest part of our palm from side to side.  Our days when contrasted to our Lord’s are like a drop of rain to the ocean, a grain of sand in comparison to all the sand in the world.  One day to us is like a thousand years to Him.  David in his contrast comes away to realize that at our best we are in a state of ‘vanity’. This word means chasing the wind or bubbles.  He ends this verse of contrast with the word ‘Selah’.  This word is mention 71 times in the Psalms.  I heard a translation read recently where this word was omitted from the text. How sad! This word has several meanings.  It is a musical pause to catch the breath. These truths of contrast and condition would tend to take our breath.  The other meaning is stop and change the focus.  These thoughts may cause us to focus on the earthly hopelessness of life but we better stop and look up and focus on the eternal.  John Phillips said the word means, “Well, what do you think about that?”

            In verse 6 ‘David Is Perceiving A Conclusion’.  He sees life as a passing pageant of vanity.  We, at our best, fret, fume, and worry, but all for a mere nothing.  There is only one thing in this life we can be sure of and that is nothing is sure in this life.  The only certainty man has in this world is uncertainty.  The hope of this world is that everything is fleeing away. 

            “This is sad news for those whose treasures are beneath the sun; those whose glorying is in themselves may well fly the flag at half-mast; but those whose best estate is settled on Christ Jesus our Lord, may rejoice that it is no vain thing in which they trust.” (Spurgeon)