As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth

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Psalm 103 gives us a sobering contrast between the life of man and the love of God.  One is extremely 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 are like a brilliant bluebell.  They dazzle, they bring joy and delight.  They reflect the glory of the Word, their Maker.  They seem so full of life.  But it only takes the wind to change and they’re gone.

It’s not that our lives are pointless or a sick joke.  Flowers of the field are not pointless – they are delightful.  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 brief. So very, very brief.

As quickly as the seasons change so the actress loses her looks, the athlete breaks down and the world turns away to the next great musician.   And so soon those bodies will be compost for the flowers their lives resembled.

We may erect monuments in honour of the dead, but it doesn’t take long before our place “shall know it no more.”  In spite of the tombstones, I don’t know the names of my great-grandparents.  And my great grandchildren will not know mine.  We don’t even live on in the memories of those that are left.  Those memories are just as ephemeral as we are.

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 is quite a claim!  For such insubstantial apparitions as us there is an eternal reality to belong to.  For we withering bluebells, there’s a merciful love that goes on forever.

But did you notice that this merciful love does not just last eternally into the future, did you notice that such love has been upon us “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 that be?

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

Well the stunning answer of the bible is this:  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 can only be because God’s love for me is His love for His Son.

When the beloved Son came to take flesh He opened His arms to the world to draw 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.  If we are in Christ then we share in something unbreakably, unwaveringly, unimprovably wonderful – the everlasting love of God.

This is incredible news.  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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