Of Time and Eternity
(23) He has weakened my strength in midlife. He has shortened my days. (24) I said, “My God, do not take me away in the midst of my days. Your years (are) throughout all generations. (25) Of old you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens (are) the work of your hands. (26) They will perish, but you will remain. They will all wear out like a garment. You will change them as a robe, and they will pass away, (27) but you are the same. Your years never come to an end. (28) The children of your servants will settle down. Their offspring shall be established before you.”
We should first note that each of the six verses in this concluding section contains references to either time or eternity. Two repetitions contrast the brevity of our human existence with God’s eternality. The phrase, “my days,” is mentioned twice referring to the temporality of human existence (vss. 23 & 24). The expression, “your years” (vss. 24 & 27), is not intended to be taken literally as a way of placing God in the realm of time but rather as a way of contrasting God’s unending existence with humanity’s brief sojourn on the earth.
The last two verses contain an amazing insight. Our eternal God whose “years never come to an end” (vs. 27) has destined us to dwell with him (vs. 28). He will one day translate us from the temporal into the eternal. What a glorious thought!
I. Our temporality: measured in shortened days (23 & 24a)
II. God’s eternality: measured in unending years (24b & 28)
When frustrated with the brevity of our lives, we can take comfort in knowing that God has destined us to dwell with him forever.
This psalm embodies one of the basic principles of the universe that, left on its own, every organized system tends to move from a state of order to a state of disorder (vs. 26). We see this principle at work when we fill a glass with ice (high order) only to find the ice melted an hour later (greater disorder), and that glass empty a few days later because the water has all evaporated into vapor (even greater disorder). We see it when, after straightening up our bedrooms, making our beds, and cleaning up (higher order), we find, a day or two later, that everything has returned to its normal state of disarray (lower order) and needs to be straightened and cleaned all over again. This fundamental principle called “entropy” reflects the truth that complex, ordered arrangements tend to become more disordered with time. There is an irreversible downward trend at work throughout the universe at every level, both micro and macro. In essence, everything is gradually and inevitably unwinding and “wearing out like a garment.”
Although the entire creation is slowly falling into a state of disorder, the creator remains above this process. Our God never changes. He never grows weary, nor ages with time. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Those who are his will one day be transferred from this earthly realm of time and decay into his eternal presence. In our resurrection bodies, we will dwell with our timeless God in a place where the principle of entropy will no longer dominate our lives. While we can hardly imagine what this will be like, it will definitely mean indescribable freedom and joy.