For all our days are passed away in your wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
I. The main idea of the text is THE TRANSIENTNESS OF LIFE; it has the brevity of a cry. Some lives have only one word, some several, yet is each an exclamation. Some have the completeness of finished sentences; some fail in the midst; some have only a beginning, rather intimate that there is something to be said than say it. Then is life short, indeed, when man dies, not because he has exhausted a force so much as because he has met with an obstruction. And yet how often is this the case! The days are "cut off;" "the sun goes down while it is yet day; "the flower fadeth." Then, also, is life short when, though its voice fails not at the commencement of its utterance, it is broken off in the midst, and gives no complete expression to the deep meaning with which it is charged. And yet how often is it as an unfinished cry! How often do men pass away before they have half revealed the significance of their being! Things are long and short in comparison. The sense of duration is not absolute. The insect that lives but a day has, or might have, the feelings with which we regard seventy years... Suppose a being to live two millions of years, he would look down on our existence of seventy years with the same feelings as those with which we regard the creature of a day. It is only eternity that is really long — absolutely long. Eternity makes life nothing, and yet everything; sinks it to utter significance, and yet invests it with inconceivable importance.
II. If life is transient as a cry, it is A CRY FULL OF MEANING. The importance of utterances does not depend on their length; it is not how long it takes to express a thing, but the nature of the thing expressed, which decides the greatness of the expression. A few words may reveal a world of meaning. Life is a cry, but what does it not reveal? The broken speech of our earthly days is the voice of souls. It shows what we are as souls; our principles, habits, etc .... And, showing what we are, it shows also what we shall be, what we shall be for ever. And it does more than show what we shall be, it helps to make us it. Many different cries proceed from our common nature. Life in some is a cry of wonder, an expression of amazement at this mysterious universe, and their own mysterious being. Life in some is a cry of pain, . . . grief from physical suffering, grief from adversities of lot, grief from social pressure on the heart's affections. Life in some is a cry of joy, the rapid, incoherent speech of ecstatic feeling. I do not ask which of these your life is, nor does it much signify in relation to the most important of all matters. But I do ask you, what is the temper and the form of your life? Time, which is so short, is the season for conversion, salvation; and without these, when it is passed, you will find yourselves in an eternity for which no preparation has been made. Everlasting life dates from regeneration, not from death; we cannot have the life immortal if we be not born again.
(A. J. Morris.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.