Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. ~Psalm 39:5
A handbreadth is a term of measurement. It is the measurement across the widest area where the fingers join the palm. It is a short measurement. David was saying that the days of his life were very short. Imagine opening your hand and blowing upon it. This is a very sobering illustration of the shortness of life.
There is the vanishing.
David is describing the brevity of life. He said, “Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth.” James said, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). We are here only for a little time. As we get older, time moves very quickly for us. It feels like each year goes by faster than the years before. David was so concerned about the vanishing of time that he asked the Lord to make him know his end and the measure of his days. Don’t let your life vanish away.
There is the vanity.
David recognized that every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Vanity describes something as being worthless and having no value. We live our lives in the pursuit of success, independence, and accomplishment. As we move through the fourth quarter of life, we realize that many things we did have no eternal or lasting value. If we just live for now and for our personal achievements, we have lived our lives in vain. Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Jesus said about life, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
There is the vision.
Knowing that we have a lifespan that is compared to a handbreadth, it is important that we have a vision for our life. A vision is the ability to see things the way they can be. A vision for our life must be in accordance with God’s will. A vision for our life must be with God’s leading. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” A vision for our life should involve the exercise of faith. This means seeing the invisible and doing the impossible. A vision involves making a difference and changing things for the better.
There is the valuation.
We must make the days of our life count. Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” David prayed, “LORD, make me to know mine end.” Invest your life into that which has eternal value. First, spend your days being a good testimony and witness for the Lord. Second, spend your days being the best spouse and parent that you possibly can be. Third, spend your days in helping other Christians draw closer to God. Fourth, spend your days doing things that are profitable.