Psalm 39:5
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
"Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
Behold, thou hast made my days as hand-breadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before thee; verily, every man, even the high placed, is altogether vanity. Selah.

World English Bible
Behold, you have made my days handbreadths. My lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely every man stands as a breath." Selah.

Young's Literal Translation
Lo, handbreadths Thou hast made my days, And mine age is as nothing before Thee, Only, all vanity is every man set up. Selah.

Psalm 39:5 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth - literally, "Lo, handbreadths hast thou given my days." The word rendered "handbreadth" means properly the spread hand; the palm; the hand when the four fingers are expanded. The word is then used to denote anything very short or brief. It is one of the smallest natural measures, as distinguished from the "foot" - that is, the length of the foot; and from the cubit - that is, the length of the arm to the elbow. It is the "shortness" of life, therefore, that is the subject of painful and complaining reflection here. Who has not been in a state of mind to sympathize with the feelings of the psalmist? Who is there that does not often wonder, when he thinks of what he could and would accomplish on earth if his life extended to one thousand years, and when he thinks of the great interests at stake in reference to another world which God has made dependent on so short a life? Who can at all times so calm down his feelings as to give utterance to no expressions of impatience that life is so soon to terminate? Who is there that reflects on the great interests at stake that has not asked the question why God has not given man more time to prepare for eternity?

And mine age - Or, my life. The word used here - חלד cheled - means properly "duration of life," lifetime; and then, life itself; Job 11:17.

Is as nothing - That is, it is so short that it seems to be nothing at all.

Before thee - As over against thee; that is, in comparison with thee. Compare Isaiah 40:17, "All nations "before him" are as nothing;" that is, over against him, or in comparison with him. When the two are placed together, the one seems to be as nothing in the presence of the other. So the life of man, when placed by the side of the life of God, seems to be absolutely nothing.

Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity - Margin, "settled." The idea is, that every man is "constituted" vanity. Literally, "All vanity every man is constituted." There seems to be nothing but vanity; and this is the result of a divine constitution or arrangement. The idea expressed in our common version, "at his best state," however true in itself, is not in the original. The thoughts in the original are:

(a) that all people are vanity; that is, life is so short, and man accomplishes so little, that it seems to be perfect vanity; and

(b) that this is the result of the divine constitution under which man was made.

It was the fact that man has been "so made" which gave so much trouble to the mind of the psalmist.

Psalm 39:5 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Epiphanius of Pavia.
ABOUT the same time that Cæsarius was thus labouring in France, Epiphanius, Bishop of Pavia, was labouring in a like spirit in Italy. He also was a blessing for his land, convulsed by the disturbances of war, and deluged by one barbarous tribe after another. Amidst the strife of hostile tribes, he gained equal confidence and equal respect from the leaders of the adverse parties, and shed benefits alike on friend and foe. When the wild hosts of Odoacer were destroying and plundering Pavia, in
Augustus Neander—Light in the Dark Places

Period ii. The Church from the Permanent Division of the Empire Until the Collapse of the Western Empire and the First Schism Between the East and the West, or Until About A. D. 500
In the second period of the history of the Church under the Christian Empire, the Church, although existing in two divisions of the Empire and experiencing very different political fortunes, may still be regarded as forming a whole. The theological controversies distracting the Church, although different in the two halves of the Graeco-Roman world, were felt to some extent in both divisions of the Empire and not merely in the one in which they were principally fought out; and in the condemnation
Joseph Cullen Ayer Jr., Ph.D.—A Source Book for Ancient Church History

How those are to be Admonished who Decline the Office of Preaching Out of Too Great Humility, and those who Seize on it with Precipitate Haste.
(Admonition 26.) Differently to be admonished are those who, though able to preach worthily, are afraid by reason of excessive humility, and those whom imperfection or age forbids to preach, and yet precipitancy impells. For those who, though able to preach with profit, still shrink back through excessive humility are to be admonished to gather from consideration of a lesser matter how faulty they are in a greater one. For, if they were to hide from their indigent neighbours money which they possessed
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

"And we all do Fade as a Leaf, and Our Iniquities, Like the Wind, have Taken us Away. "
Isaiah lxiv. 6.--"And we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Here they join the punishment with the deserving cause, their uncleanness and their iniquities, and so take it upon them, and subscribe to the righteousness of God's dealing. We would say this much in general--First, Nobody needeth to quarrel God for his dealing. He will always be justified when he is judged. If the Lord deal more sharply with you than with others, you may judge there is a difference
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Cross References
Matthew 6:27
"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

Luke 12:25
"And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?

Romans 8:20
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope

James 4:14
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Job 11:12
"An idiot will become intelligent When the foal of a wild donkey is born a man.

Job 14:2
"Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.

Psalm 39:11
"With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity; You consume as a moth what is precious to him; Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.

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