As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth

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Psalm 103

Psalm 103 gives us a sobering contrast between the life of man and the love of God.  One is fragile and short-lived, the other is eternal and unchanging:

“As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.  For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.  But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.”  (Psalm 103:15-17)

The actress in her dream role, the athlete breaking all records, the musician with the world at his feet – they’re like brilliant floral displays.  Brimming with life, they dazzle and delight.  They reflect the glory of the Word, their Maker.   But just a change of wind – and they’re gone.

It’s not that our lives are pointless.  Instead they testify to an extravagant God who lavishes His world with beauty at every turn.  Human life is not a cruel joke.  But it is very, very brief.

As quickly as the seasons change, the actress loses her looks, the athlete is injured and the world moves on.   And so soon those bodies will be compost for the flowers their lives once resembled.

We may erect monuments to the dead, but before long their place “shall know (them) no more.”  I don’t know the names of my great-grandparents – and my great grandchildren will not know mine.  We don’t live on, even in the memories of those that are left.

This is the fleeting flourishing of the flesh.

But — verse 17 continues — the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him.  Now that’s quite a claim!  Though insubstantial, we belong to an eternal reality.  Though we are withering bluebells, we know a merciful love that goes on forever.

This love lasts, not just into the future, but is “from everlasting”?  The love of God does not just preserve the God-fearer to all eternity.  It is upon the God-fearer from all eternity.

How can this be?

I was not in existence from everlasting.  How can the love of God be on me from eternity past?

Here’s the Bible’s stunning answer:  God the Father loves me with the very love which He has for His eternal Son, Christ.  You see only Christ could be said to be loved “from everlasting to everlasting.”  If such a love is upon me it’s only because I’ve come in on God’s love for Christ.

When the Son took on flesh He drew us into His life.  God-fearers (another name for believers) become incorporated into Christ, and in Him we could not be more secure.

Now that we are in Jesus, God’s love for us is not like His love for Jesus.  God’s love for us is not based on His love for Jesus.  God’s love for us is His love for Jesus.  We are so identified with Christ that we are loved by God as the eternal Son.  In Christ we share in something unbreakably, unwaveringlyand  unimprovably wonderful – the everlasting love of God.

This is incredible.  Perishing plants like ourselves can get grafted into the true Vine, Jesus Christ.  In Him we participate in a love without beginning and without end.

No wonder the Psalm ends with rapturous praise:

Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

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