Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Waste of Breath

I balanced all, brought all to mind, 
The years to come seemed waste of breath, 
A waste of breath the years behind 
In balance with this life, this death.

 —W.B. Yeats

David was furious with God, but he didn't want to vent his rage in public: He said, “I will guard my ways; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle…” (Psalm 39:1).

But David could not restrain himself: "My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue”: Why have you made us this way: short-lived, transient, ephemeral—”mere breath?" (39:11)

We work hard to accumulate things only to leave them for others to enjoy (39:6). We have nothing to show for a lifetime of effort but suffering and a solitary grave. Hobbes was right: Life is "nasty, brutish and short.” 

At least, that’s the way David felt on this occasion: Life is short and full of trouble. And then we die.

There's no resolution in the psalm. No respite; only resignation and a bitter cry: “Give me a break, cut me some slack before it's too late and I'm out of here" (39:13 The Message)

It’s significant to me that God allowed this psalm to stand as it is—a witness to the fact that He understands how frustrated and angry we can be when things aren't going our way. 

God is safe. You can tell Him off now and then. 

David Roper

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