One of the aspects of life that we all have in common is suffering. The question is not, “Will we suffer?” The question is, “How will we suffer?” What I mean is, do we know how to suffer in hope and wisdom? What does hope and wisdom look like? This Psalm gives us great insight into this.
First of all David talks about holding his tongue as he suffers, especially when he is in the presence of those who are not of the people of God (the wicked). One thought as to why David would think this way is that he does not want to say something, in the midst of his suffering, that would be demeaning to the holiness and glory of God. Now, I must say that God in His Word does not in any way tell us that we cannot cry out to Him in lamentation and complaint. After all, one of the books of the Bible is called, “Lamentations.” I am sure that David would not want to express unnecessary and unfaithful blame on God for his situation.
But, the family of God knows that something needs to be said in the midst of suffering. So, this is why, as David sought to hold his tongue in the midst of the wicked, he turned to worship and began to speak. Note how David does this. I think it is startling that David begins to ask God to let him know just how fleeting he is and how “measured” the days of his life were. How could this bring wisdom and help? Well, as we deal with the reality of the brevity of life and that we do not have a mortgage on time, measuring our days helps us not to waste our lives in turmoil and focusing on wealth as the means to heart and life satisfaction. I have never seen an armored car at a funeral. We can’t take it with us and we don’t have ultimate control over how the wealth we leave behind will be spent or who will actually gather it. So, it is good in the midst of suffering to take inventory of our lives and re-focus on what really matters.
David says that mankind stands “as a mere breath,” and goes about “as a shadow.” Wouldn’t such things hurt a person’s self-esteem? It just might, but it is very healthy to realize that we are not the center of the universe because we cannot effectively prop up our lives in a fallen world through self-aggrandizement. You know what it is like to be in the presence of a child who has been treated without discipline and who has been taught that the world exists for them rather than for God. Such a child will not be able to have strong emotional health nor a healthy view of themselves because they will go around treating people as if everyone owes them something. No, we were created to love and give and to turn our love for ourselves inside out. As I apply David’s wisdom I instantly feel better and relieved. I am reminded that I am a creation of God and He alone is God. My days are in His hand. Life in Him means that I must not focus simply on the here and now, which will one day be no more. No, I am to focus on that which is eternal. This gives me hope and assurance. This gives me strength to put one small foot of faith in front of the other.
In suffering run to God. Do not run away from Him. He is your Rock, Refuge, and Strength.