New International Version
He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
King James Bible
For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
Darby Bible Translation
And he remembered that they were flesh, a breath that passeth away and cometh not again.
World English Bible
He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes away, and doesn't come again.
Young's Literal Translation
And He remembereth that they are flesh, A wind going on -- and it returneth not.
Psalm 78:39 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
He remembered that they were but flesh - Weak mortals. He took their feeble perishing state always into consideration, and knew how much they needed the whole of their state of probation; and therefore he bore with them to the uttermost. How merciful is God!
A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again - I believe this to be a bad translation and may be productive of error; as if when a man dies his being were ended, and death were an eternal sleep. The original is, רוח הולך ולא ישוב ruach holech velo yashub: and the translation should be, "The spirit goeth away, and it doth not return." The present life is the state of probation; when therefore the flesh - the body, fails, the spirit goeth away into the eternal world, and returneth not hither again. Now God, being full of compassion, spared them, that their salvation might be accomplished before they went into that state where there is no change; where the pure are pure still, and the defiled are defiled still. All the Versions are right; but the polyglot translator of the Syriac, rocho, has falsely put ventus, wind, instead of spiritus, soul or spirit. The Arabic takes away all ambiguity: "He remembered that they were flesh; and a spirit which, when it departs, does not again return." The human being is composed of flesh and spirit, or body and soul; these are easily separated, and, when separated, the body turns to dust, and the spirit returns no more to animate it in a state of probation. Homer has a saying very like that of the psalmist: -
Ανδρος δε ψυχη παλιν ελθειν ουτε ληἱστη,
Ουθ' ἑλετη, επει αρ κεν αμειψεται ἑρκος οδοντων.
IL. ix., ver., 408.
"But the soul of man returns no more;
nor can it be acquired nor caught after it has
passed over the barrier of the teeth."
Pope has scarcely given the passage its genuine meaning: -
"But from our lips the vital spirit fled
Returns no more to wake the silent dead."
And the Ossian-like version of Macpherson is but little better: "But the life of man returns no more; nor acquired nor regained is the soul which once takes its flight on the wind." What has the wind to do with the ἑρκος οδοντων of the Greek poet?
Several similar sayings may be found among the Greek poets; but they all suppose the materiality of the soul.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
a wind. Or, as the Hebrew rooach holaich welo yashoov may be rendered, the spirit goeth away and returneth not again. To this purpose the Arabic, He remembered that they were flesh; and a spirit which when it departs returneth not again. The human being is composed of flesh and spirit, or body and soul: these are easily separated, and when separated, the body turns to dust, and the spirit returns no more to animate the body in a state of probation.
LibraryMemory, Hope, and Effort
'That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.'--PSALM lxxviii. 7. In its original application this verse is simply a statement of God's purpose in giving to Israel the Law, and such a history of deliverance. The intention was that all future generations might remember what He had done, and be encouraged by the remembrance to hope in Him for the future; and by both memory and hope, be impelled to the discharge of present duty. So, then, the words …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Fifteenth Day for Schools and Colleges
Out of the Deep of Loneliness, Failure, and Disappointment.
The Good Shepherd: a Farewell Sermon
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.
Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years."
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.
I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning.
Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?
"Show me, LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.
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.
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