Each of us is a mere breath ∙
But now, Lord, what do I look for? You are my only hope! – Psalm 39:7
1 I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.”
2 But as I stood there in silence – not even speaking of good things – the turmoil within me grew worse.
3 The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words:
4 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”
6 We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.
7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
8 Rescue me from my rebellion. Do not let fools mock me.
11 When you discipline us for our sins, you consume like a moth what is precious to us. Each of us is but a breath.
Homer was the first and greatest Greek poet and is said to have authored the Iliad and the Odyssey around 1000 BC. The Iliad contains the story of the battle of Troy. In the story, the great hero and champion of the Greeks is Achilles.
Achilles was the seemingly unbeatable superhero of his day. He never lost a battle and seemed immortal. According to Greek myth, Thetis, his mother, did everything she could to give him great strength and invincibility. She dunked him into the River Styx, whose waters were said to have the miraculous power to provide the god-like invulnerability. However, she gripped Achilles by the foot, and the water never touched his heel. As a result, only Achilles’ heel was vulnerable.
Achilles dies when an arrow strikes his vulnerable heel. So down to this day, the term “Achilles heel” is used to describe a powerful person’s fatal weakness. We have a similar expression that comes from the Old Testament, “feet of clay” (Daniel 2:33). It refers to a weakness or hidden flaw in the character of a greatly admired or respected person.
When we think of David, Israel’s greatest king and hero, he had feet of clay. And so it is with each child of the King. Our loving heavenly father arranges the circumstances of our lives. But, we often deal with the consequences of our own poor choices. Struggles are inevitable; how we respond is a choice.
David made his first bad choice with Bathsheba, which led to a cascade of other destructive decisions and consequences. Psalm 39 recounts David’s introspection and prayer, seeking relief and restoration.
He is miserable and depressed. He recognizes the brevity of life. Each of us is but a breath (Psalm 39:11). His options are few, but he chooses to do the right thing. He exercises his faith and seeks relief from his heavenly Father.
Psalm 39:7 You are my only hope!
David takes responsibility for his foolish choices. David declares his hope and trust are in the Father. He seeks restoration and forgiveness. He makes himself vulnerable and bears his heart to Him. He humbly requests that the Father deliver him from all his transgressions and take away the consequences of his poor decisions.
He knew and believed the open secret of the Scriptures. On the one hand, we reap what we sow, but on the other hand, our heavenly Father is merciful, kind, and has no desire to harm or punish His children.
6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;
7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin.
David deserved death. Instead, he received grace. David was mercifully granted forgiveness and restoration and continued to serve the Father.
REFLECT & PRAY
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
Father, our hope is in You, and You alone. Be gracious and kind, and allow us to feel cleansing, restoration, and the joyful experience of Your presence in our hearts.
David embodies and provides a pattern for all of the children of the King. The haunting, tormenting fire within finally becomes light. Eventually, we see things as they are, and our illusions are crushed by reality. We stop our rationalizations and excuses. We take responsibility for our thoughts, words, and choices. We come to our senses and seek relief from the only source that can provide it, our loving heavenly Father.
The best defense is no defense at all, rather acquiescence and meekness.
“Life passes with lightning speed. We are on this earth for only a short time, so we must be diligent to live wisely and well. We may appear before God tomorrow – so let us live for Him today” (Stanley).
Haggai 2:19 Yet from this day on, I will bless you.
“Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life!”
© Dr. H 2022