For all our days are passed away in your wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
Yes, it is true; we do spend our lives as is here said. I know the word rendered "tale" may bear other meanings - a thought, a breath, a meditation, a numbering (Exodus 5:8). But this in our text sets forth the psalmist's thought as well as, if not better than, any other. His view of life is a very sad one, and is by no means true as concerns the blessed dead who die in the Lord. Their lives are not all "labour and sorrow;" still less are they "all passed away in" God's wrath; nor are they so vain and worthless as, in his sadness, the psalmist represents them. His idea, in the similitude he here employs of "a tale," has in view the brevity, the trifling character, the speedy forgetfulness into which they fell; but these are not all the characteristics of a tale that is told. Oriental peoples are very fond of short bright stories, and one who can tell such stories well is ever welcome amongst them. The psalmist had no doubt often heard such recitals, and he says - So is man's life. Well, it is so -
I. IN THAT OUR DAYS ARE SOON OVER. The tale that was told was never long, but soon done, and room made for another. And so is it with our life, even at the longest, and especially that portion of our life which is of paramount importance - the formative character fixing years. How soon they are over! And the life takes its bent and bias from them, and generally continues so to the end. In the tale of most lives you know very soon how it will go on. The child is father to the man, and you can generally foretell how it will wind up. Let such as are young, therefore, take heed to their days, the days of their youth - they are all-important.
II. IN ITS VARIED CHARACTER. There are tales told that are poor, mean, hurtful, not worth the telling; that stain the imagination, that incite to evil, and are doomed to a speedy and contemptuous oblivion. But there are others of an entirely different character. And so it is with men's lives - some evil, some blessed and good.
III. IF EITHER IS TO BE WORTHY, THE ESSENTIAl, ELEMENTS ARE THE SAME.
1. Energy and activity.
3. Character must be revealed.
4. The aim must be generous and high.
5. It must end well. - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.