The Psalms are a rich resource for those who desire to deepen their personal praise lives. The Psalms express “real” praise where struggle, pain, suffering, and depression are on full display as the writers try to navigate what they are experiencing in life with the promises of the everlasting delight they are to find in God. There are two truths that are repeated in the Fourth Book (Psalm 90-106) that root our praise of God deeper in our hearts.
The Brevity of Mankind
The shortness of life is described in many ways in this section of the Psalms. Our lives are shown to be as short lived as a dream, withering grass, and a heavy sigh. All these images evoke an impression of something that while it is happening feels as if it will last forever. The fall from a tall building in a dream, having to cut the grass each week, or a stressful sigh from a crushing burden, all have an expiration date and it is closer than we think. But in the middle of life it seems like we are invincible. But our lives are short; shorter than we know.
Men and women who grow old simply see more trouble. Those that resist God, such as the proud and arrogant, will be destroyed and crushed. The Israelites soon forgot the works of the Lord. The days of those that are oppressed are few.
Mankind does not last long. God calls each one back to the dust of the earth. While we remember to “number our days,” we must rejoice in the eternality of our God.
The Eternality of God
The word steadfast in the ESV is used to describe God’s love and mercy. His love and mercy are not a mere waning emotion, but are “from everlasting to everlasting.” His love and mercy will not change and those that fear Him will always find access to His love and mercy.
Another reminder that God is eternal in the face of our frailty is how the Psalms speak of the enthronement of God. He is seated on a throne that will never be overthrown despite man’s concerted effort (cf. Psa 2). God is the one who makes the earth tremble and shake. Those that lift themselves up against their neighbor, the poor, and widows attempt to do in essence what the LORD will do against them: “The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake” (Psa 99:1). God is enthroned and remains steadfast while those who attempt to dethrone God will be cast down.
God is also described as a rock and fortress for the weak and persecuted to hide from the troubles of life and the harm others would inflict upon them. Again, this description of God is in direct contrast to how people are pictured as grass and a sigh. God is a rock that cannot be shaken though the earthly mountains shake and fall.
What do the Psalms express as their desire for our reaction to these truths? The first one is to be humble. We must be careful not to lift ourselves up to a place we do not belong. There is a humility built in the examination of our short of lives. We do not last forever; God does.
Another response is to run to God when there are troubles from the proud and arrogant. There are those that despise and reject God and attempt and do oppress the godly. This, should not be a surprise to us and we have a shelter that cannot be moved during difficult times. Those that seek to oppress others do so by shaking their circumstances and altering their paths. But those that are humble and delight in God will never be shaken to the point of ultimate ruin.
The third response is the one God desires the most: praise to Him alone. Praise is the necessary reaction to meditation of the character of God. Worthy and delightful praise to God grows out of a proper response to knowing who we are and who God is. These Psalms paint the wonderful, true picture of the fragility of life and the eternality of God. Praise God alone!
Article by Caleb Nedimyer