Psalm 39

"O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!"

Much of Psalm 39 echos Ecclesiastes. In verse 11 of the poem we even hear the word "hebel," which is so central to the thoughts of Qoheleth: "every human being is only a vapor [hebel]."

Human life is vaporous and fleeting. And reflecting on this fact, according to Scripture, is the path to wisdom. 


Lots can be said here, but I think one of those things is that it is important to know exactly what you are. We can be self-forgetful, even delusional, in our perceptions of ourselves. We can forget what we are. Or think we are something different from what we are.

And what are we? We are creatures. We are haunted by finitude. We don't have unlimited energy or capacity. We don't have unlimited time. We have needs. We are vulnerable to damage, harm, injury, death and disease. We are not bulletproof. We are fragile and breakable. We come up against our limits. We cannot hold ourselves in existence.

Knowing this about yourself, knowing what you are, creates capacities. Capacities for self-care and self-compassion. Compassion, also, for others. Knowing you're a creature, that life is fleeting, also creates capacities for investment and intentionality. Each day is precious, so lean in and be present. 

Knowing you are a creature also means understanding that loss and grief are the shadows cast by joy and love. Creatures know they walk this dappled path. 

And lastly, knowing you are a creature means embracing your dependency. As creatures, we are not the source of our own being. We are held in our Creator's hands. The foolish forget this, or delusionally deny it. The wise walk humbly with their God.

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