5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death — they are like the new grass of the morning: 6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. 7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. 10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. 11 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. 12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
We are painfully reminded that our lives are exercises in disintegration – we are wearing down and wearing out until we are dust again (verse 3; Genesis 2:7). Verses 7-11 remind us that death is not the natural order of things but the effect of our turning from God and the curse on all creation (Genesis 3:1-19). Without this robust doctrine of sin, we will not be wise (verse 12). We will be constantly shocked by what people (and we!) are capable of, and by how life swiftly takes away everything we love. We will trust in our own abilities too much and seek satisfaction in things that we will inevitably lose. Face sin and death or be out of touch with reality.
Lord, I have not done the profound soul work necessary to be ready to die. Give me the strength to ask the big question: Would I be ready to die tomorrow? Be such a “living bright reality” to me that I can answer that question wisely and then do what is necessary. Amen.