New International Version
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
King James Bible
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.
Darby Bible Translation
ye who do not know what will be on the morrow, ([for] what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, appearing for a little while, and then disappearing,)
World English Bible
Whereas you don't know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.
Young's Literal Translation
who do not know the thing of the morrow; for what is your life? for it is a vapour that is appearing for a little, and then is vanishing;
James 4:14 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Whereas ye know not - This verse should be read in a parenthesis. It is not only impious, but grossly absurd, to speak thus concerning futurity, when ye know not what a day may bring forth. Life is utterly precarious; and God has not put it within the power of all the creatures he has made to command one moment of what is future.
It is even a vapour - Ατμις γαρ εστιν· It is a smoke, always fleeting, uncertain, evanescent, and obscured with various trials and afflictions. This is a frequent metaphor with the Hebrews; see Psalm 102:11; My days are like a shadow: Job 8:9; Our days upon earth are a shadow: 1 Chronicles 29:15; Our days on the earth are a shadow, and there is no abiding. Quid tam circumcisum, tam breve, quam hominis vita longissima? Plin. l. iii., Ephesians 7. "What is so circumscribed, or so short, as the longest life of man?" "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth, because the breath of the Lord bloweth upon it. Surely the people is like grass." St. James had produced the same figure, James 1:10, James 1:11. But there is a very remarkable saying in the book of Ecclesiasticus, which should be quoted: "As of the green leaves of a thick tree, some fall and some grow; so is the generation of flesh and blood: one cometh to an end, and another is born." Ecclus. 14:18.
We find precisely the same image in Homer as that quoted above. Did the apocryphal writer borrow it from the Greek poet?
Οἱη περ φυλλων γενεη, τοιηδε και ανδρων·
Φυλλα τα μεν τ' ανεμος χαμαδις χεει, αλλα δε θ' ὑλη
Τηλεθοωσα φυει, εσρος δ' επιγιγνεται ὡρη·
Ὡς ανδρων γενεη, ἡ μεν φυει, ἡ δ' αποληγει.
Il. l. vi., ver. 146.
Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground
Another race the following spring supplies;
They fall successive, and successive rise.
So generations in their course decay;
So flourish these, when those are pass'd away.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
It is. or, For it is. a vapour.
LibraryDecember 29 Evening
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.--JAMES 4:8. Enoch walked with God.--Can two walk together, except they be agreed?--It is good for me to draw near to God. The Lord is with you, while ye be with him: and if ye seek him, he will be found of you: but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. When they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of …
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path
April 4. "Resist the Devil and He Will Flee" (James iv. 7).
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Whether Strife is a Daughter of Anger?
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.
He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.
They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?
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