Almost everything in the world in which you live is as fleeting as the stories in your Facebook news feed. Trends and fads are here today and gone tomorrow. The fastest, best, most fascinating technology dies this afternoon because faster, better and more fascinating technology was born this morning. The winds of change are always blowing, and they don’t limit themselves to fads and things. Those winds are as indifferent to people as they are to trends and widgets. If you are fired from your job tomorrow, next month there will be many who will have forgotten that you were ever there. Even great men who did great things, and had statues or cities named after them are no longer remembered by the majority of the people who live in those cities or daily walk by those statues. This is a sad truth affixed to our existence.
David, the chief psalmist, recognizes this truth with a powerful word picture in Psalm 103:15-16. It’s there that he compares a person’s life to grass or to a flower that springs up and flourishes for a time, but then withers away so quickly and so completely, that the ground it was growing from doesn’t remember it anymore. David is arguing that we are completely temporary, and that we have no permanent impact upon the ground on which we grow and stand. It all seems rather bleak, and a bit out of place if you lift only those verses from their larger context in this psalm of praise. But it isn’t so bleak when you see the next verses. In Psalm 103:17-18, David sings that God’s love for those people who fear him, love him and obey his commandments is eternal. If those people wither away from existence like flowers or grass, then God’s love for them couldn’t be eternal. For instance, if you had a house that you cherished, and it burned completely to the ground, you wouldn’t be able to say, “I love my house.” You would only be able to say, “I loved my house.” God loves forever the people who love him. And if he loves them forever, that means that he will keep them alive and in existence under his care forever.
Interestingly, David argues in his song that people who love God and follow his ways, transfer righteousness throughout the generations that follow them as long as those generations continue to obey. So unlike the flower and the grass who leave no lasting mark, God’s people, who are not like ordinary people, have the ability to leave long lasting marks of good on the world in which they live.