Scripture Reading: Numbers 29:12-31:24 / Luke 8:19-39 / Psalm 39:1-13
Want to know your life expectancy? The Social Security Administration has a Life Expectancy Calculator that will roughly estimate how long you may live. It uses your gender and date of birth to determine how many additional years a person can expect to live. Since I’ve reached 55 years of age, they calculate an additional life expectancy of 27.7 years so I can expect to reach 82.8 years old!
Of course, those calculations are inaccurate and unreliable. No man can determine the length of a person’s days and none of us are guaranteed we will live to see tomorrow. Life is filled with uncertainties and can end abruptly and unexpectantly. George Bernard Shaw aptly said, “The statistics on death are quite impressive. One out of one people die.”
David writes about the frailty of life and asks God, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:4,5)
It is impossible for men to number their days. They attempt to extend and lengthen life through nutrition and health incentives. Life is short and the older we get, the faster life gets! I have discovered those things in life that I thought I had some measure of control; they are now out of my control! We may consider 70 years “long” in comparison to 5, 10 or 30 years but 70 and any amount of years are short compared to eternity!
David describes life as fleeting and similar to a “handbreadth”. A handbreadth is one of the shortest natural measurements and is equal to the width of four fingers…such is the brevity of life. Not only is it short, it’s also uncertain and frail. James describes life as a vapor, appearing for a short time and then quickly vanishing. (James 4:14)
David also uses an interesting observation by saying our life is but a breath. The word breath comes from a Hebrew word that is used 36 times in Ecclesiastes and means “vanity”. The word is used to describe something with no substance and is transitory; like pursuing your shadow or building a house of sand on the seashore.
Because life is so short, it is to be lived with great meaning and focus. We are not to live for the fleeting and uncertainty life of this world but for the Lord in the light of His certain promise of eternity! The longest length of days on this earth will never begin to compare to the never-ending eternity of heaven. A man made life expectancy calculator or a God given eternal life promise….what are you living for?