Psalm 90: Dwelling in God to Escape Vanity

grey beach

If you missed my last two posts, Does Science Incriminate the Bible? and Why Can’t Science and Faith be Friends?, I suggest you read them first before continuing on to this one. I have been following a loose but developing line of thought throughout them.

This third post picks up at the assumption that science/life is all there is, i.e. there is no supernatural, spiritual, or eternal elements to the world and human experience.

The most basic human condition is inescapable vanity.

The biggest muscles, atrophy. The sharpest minds, dull. The prettiest faces, wrinkle.

Nothing not only doesn’t satisfy eternally, but nothing even lasts eternally. Man is confronted, not merely conceptually, but actually in experience with his mortality and resulting vanity.

The days of our years are seventy years, or, if because of strength, eighty years; but their pride is labor and sorrow, for it is soon gone, and we fly away.

-Psalm 90:10

If a newborn child could think rationally upon birth and came out of the womb with the full ability of the creative use of language, he might ask his parents on his first day, “What can I expect to gain out of all this?” His mother may look off to the side, pause, and then answer sheepishly, “Seventy years of labor and sorrow.”

Psalm 90:10 describes the quantity and quality of human life.

The quantity of life that we can expect is 70-80 years. Monaco, population 30,500 in July 2011, has the highest life expectancy in the world, at 89.73. So, 3500 years later, Moses’ word still stands. The quality of life we can expect isn’t much better- labor and sorrow.

O Jehovah, cause me to know my end, and the measure of my days, what it is. May I know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as mere handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before You; surely every man at his best is altogether vanity. Surely man goes about as a semblance; surely they bustle about in vain: he heaps up riches yet knows not who will gather them. And now what am I waiting for, O Lord? My hope—it is in You.

-Psalm 39:4-7

Modern technology however, masks man’s true condition.

We can cover up the quantity of life with our new available quality of life.

Just think how difficult cooking, childbearing, and life in general were just 100 years ago. In these events, man felt the sagging weight of his mortality. He felt the transience. Moses, the writer of Psalm 90, surely had a poignant sense of this, trudging around the wilderness for forty years while leading the children of Israel. The rawness of human life reminded man that “it is soon gone, and we fly away.”

Technology may be a welcomed form of temporary relief or distraction, but it ultimately has no recourse against the fall.

The promise of a technological salvation is empty. The gospel of Steve Jobs ends up being little more than ingenious entrepreneurship. Apple’s original logo of the bitten, forbidden fruit imprinted with a rainbow, a Biblical symbol of hope and promise, implies that technology can reverse the effects of the curse. But this only creates false hope.

The most it can do is mask the symptoms. Even if modern medicine gives man a little extra strength to extend his days, what does it benefit him? It’s pride is labor and sorrow. Even if man could live to 969 years, the longest recorded life span in the Bible, what would he have to boast of in the end? ” We bring our years to an end like a sigh (Psa. 90:9).”

O Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

-Psalm 90:1

Only by dwelling in the eternal God, can our finite life have eternal value and satisfaction. The Christian was “regenerated unto a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3), a hope contingent on the life of God. A multifaceted hope for this life and the next. To be a Christian is to believe into God. This meets not just a religious need but a very human need.

Dwelling in God is the only solution to the human condition.

3 thoughts on “Psalm 90: Dwelling in God to Escape Vanity

  1. Pingback: What does the gospel offer? 23 Eternals « life and building

  2. Pingback: What the Gospel Offers | life and building

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