The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…
I. EXPLANATORY REMARKS.
1. Consider threescore years and ten, or fourscore years, as the limit beyond which the life of man doth not pass. The folly which leads men to expect to live a hundred years, because one individual may have reached them, is like that which encourages them to expect mercy in their last hour, because the thief on the cross obtained it. It hath the worst effects on life, and produces the bitterest feelings of disappointment and regret in death.
(1) If we attend to the situation of the wicked, we will perceive the wisdom of this limitation of life. Seventy or eighty years are surely a sufficient space for the exercise of the Divine patience with them, and for proving what is in their hearts, whether they will keep His commandments or no.
(2) To the righteous, life is a state of manifold temptations, and as God doth not afflict willingly, He will not subject them longer to these than He sees it necessary for the trial of their graces.
2. Consider that the limits of human life which are here specified are reached by few. Death commonly selects for its victims life at its best, and man in his prime. It becomes us, therefore, to say, "I will use the world as if I were soon to leave it; I will live with my friends as if I were soon to part with them; I will discharge my duty as becomes one who expects soon to give in his account."
3. The protracting of life to the limits here specified is not in itself desirable. the strength of such old men is labour and sorrow.
(1) In consequence of the decline of their faculties, the aged are unfit for labour; and when they do apply themselves to it, they are soon obliged to desist. To them the grasshopper is a burden.
(2) Mental application is oppressive to them likewise. It is a toil to them to read, and what they do read is quickly forgotten.
(3) The languor and the wandering of their minds in religious duty distresses them. The affections which were once so active and fervent, now move slowly and reluctantly: and when they contrast their present with their past condition, it fills them with the painful apprehension that the Spirit of God hath abandoned them, and that they have lost what God hath wrought.
4. When life is come to these limits, its extinction may be hourly expected. It becomes the aged to submit to death without murmuring. It is your duty to be ready for your departure, and to employ every moment that remains in cultivating the spirit of the world to which you are going.
1. To those who have arrived, or are on the point of arriving, at these limits.
(1) Think on the many opportunities you have had of promoting the Divine glory in comparison of others; and remember, that to whom much is given, of them also shall much be required.
(2) Remember that if you are strangers to Christ, your saving acquaintance with Him must be now or never.
2. To those who are yet at a distance from these limits of human life.
(1) Let those who are far advanced in years be the object of your pity and of your kind attentions. Encourage them in their labour, and cheer them in their sorrow.
(2) Acquaint now yourselves with God; and if your days shall be shortened, grace shall conduct you more speedily to eternal life; and should they be prolonged for fourscore years, it will support and comfort you amidst the labour and sorrow of the season of decay.
(3) Consider the diseases and afflictions which may be sent to you in the early seasons of life, as intended to remind you that death is at hand, and to induce you to submit to it cheerfully.
(H. Belfrage, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.