Return to:

A Short Story

Scripture Reading: Psalm 90: 1 - 10; Text: Psalm 90: 9(b)


This is an important and unusual thought the the Psalmist has shared with us . It is in fact, so unusual that there is not another statement like it to be found in all the Bible. There is one statement in the New Testament that is somewhat similiar to it and we shall take a look at it before we conclude this study. The outstanding thoughts conveyed to us in this passage, are vital for us to ponder in our day and time. Please think with me about these words.

It is clearly evident from the surrounding verses of scripture that the prevailing thought is the brevity of life. I want us to give that idea some serious thought since it seems to be the focal point of this passage.

The other thought that is set forth, is describing life as a "tale" that is told. A tale may mean many different things in the scriptures as well as our present day conversation. It sometimes means the number of a certain item. For example, when the bondage, they made bricks for Pharaoh. When the tale was referred to in Exodus 5:8&18, it meant the number or tally of the bricks. However, in our scripture, the translators added a statement for clarity, and said the it is a tale "that is told." They did that because sometimes a tale is to meditate on something and then utter or tell what has been understood. Therefore, the idea here is that we are to mediate about life and then tell what life means. It is in this context that the idea of talebearers emerges. People are often injured by this practice. It is important that we remember thsi commandment rcorded in Leviticus 19:16.

We are going to think about life as a short story that is told. We can meditate on our life or that of another, then tell the highlights as a short story. We can be sure of this fact, we cannot possibly know all there is to know about anyone's life. There are always things that are hidden from us, but there are no secrets kept for God. He knows all that can be known about us or anyone else who has lived or ever shall.


As suggested earlier, the main lesson to be learned from the text and its surrounding scriptures, is that life is brief at best. In verse nine, he mentions our "days" and in verse ten, the "days of our years." Even in seventy or eighty years of life, there are not that many days. Seventy years is equal to 25,550 days and eighty years is equivalent to only 29, 200 days. That is not many and they do seem to pass by so quickly, don't they? The Psalmist describes life as "a watch in the night" in verse four and as "grass" in verse five.

In other scriptures, the brevity of life is also the focus. Consider that life is viewed as a "cloud" in 1 Chronicles 29:15, and as a "weaver's shuttle" in Job 7:6. These Old Testament passages remind us that just as a cloud cast its shadow upon the earth and quickly moves on to another spot, and as the shutter of the weaver is moved quicly back and forth in weaving the fabric; so life moves on quickly and is soon gone. In the New Testament there are also two examples we need to consider. Our Lord Jesus Christ described life as a "day" in which we may work and then night comes on (John 9:4). Later James says that life is like a "vapor" that appears momentarily and disappears into the atmosphere (James 4:14). From all these lessons we are to learn that life is too short to squander and waste. We need to be "redeeming the time" as Paul admonishes in Ephesians 5:16. It all comes into focus as we go back to Psalm 90:12. He reminds us that as we number our days and understand the brevity of life, that we are to pray that God will give us wisdon to live in the most beneficial and profitable ways possible. When we do so, life is lived to the fullest, others are considered and helped along the way, and the kingdom of God is the seed bed of our toil and labor, that God might be honored by our loving service. After all, He is worthy of such glory, for our natural life comes from Him according to Acts 17:28. He is also the source of our spiritual life, for He saved us by His amazing grace as the Holy Spirit quickened us into spiritual life and applied the efficacious blood of Jesus to our sin debt. As sin reigned, so grace has now reigned through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:21), and we should praise Him in our hearts.

At the out set I mentioned a New Testament passage that was similiar to our text. The reference is found in 2 Corinthians 3:2 where people are described as living epistles or letters so that their lives are read by other around them. Every time we examine the actions of someone or see them going about their daily lives, we are in reality reading their letter. Some people we are able to read better than others. For example, a husband or wife may read the tone of voice or the facial expression as well as the words that are spoken. Parents often read the actions of their children and pick up on the fact that something is wrong. Among the children of God, we read each others' letters and are reminded of the love we have for Jesus Christ, His church and word. So, each of us is writing a letter for we are living letters. Just as a tale is short, so are most of our letters.

With that similarity, there is also a noticable difference. The above mentioned is something that is written. When life is viewed as a book, we think in terms of chapters. In that concept, a chapter could represent a year or other major divisions of ones life. Then we might think of the kinds of books such as a "biography" when someone else writes about you, or an "autobiography" because you write the book yourself, or maybe as "fiction," which is the life of a hyporcite. But when life is thought of as a letter, things are simplified and we simply think in terms of paragraphs or pages. With either of these views, we must remember that we are using indelible ink, there is no eraser, so exercise great care as you write the pages of your book or letter.

The fact is that the lesson from our text, does not deal with either of the above. It is not about life as a book or a letter, rather it depicts life as a short story. In the ancient times, the stories or tales were said not to be very long, or people would lose interest in them before the story teller was finished. Therefore, the writer was inspired to write about an abbreviated account of one's life. In terms of life as a book, this would be an oral book report. It means that a life is read and told as a brief tale. The stories are all varied and different, because your story is different from mine and ours from every one elses. In reality, it only takes a short story to tell about the highlights of ones life.

In the story of our lives, there is much that we have forgotten about ourselves and the lives of others too. Sad to say, when we have been gone for a couple or three generations, no one may even remember the tale we told by our lives. Thank God, He will never forget us according to Isaiah 49:15. Our tale will always be safely kept by Him. He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14) but He never forgets our work and labor of love (Hebrews 6:10). Hopefully all of our stories have character, moral values, an adherence to Biblical truths. If we have left nothing of value when we are gone, has our life been lived in vain?

So what about your story or mine? We must understand the purpose of this divine simile.What can be said of our brief existence called life? That is the soul searching question I want us to now explore and consider very personally. I believe it is intended to provoke thought, to cause us to give serious thought about what our tale is up to this point. Such soul searching can help us to seek grace to change and thus leave a better legacy after we are gone. Often at funeral services, the minister or family members may reminisce and talk briefly about what a wonderful person the deceased was. Their story is being told at that moment. Think about it, what do you suppose will be the summary of your life when you are gone? I wonder what others will say, will there be something worthwhile that can be said of you and me? Let us ponder some things we might want in our life story.

First, hopefully our tale when told will be about how much we loved God: our Father and His Son, our Saviour and the sweet Holy Spirit, Who dwells within. If such a tale is to be told, we must live a life that reflects and manifests our love for Him. That is done as we live for His glory and do those things He taught in His holy word, the Bible (John 14:15). If we never do things that please and honor Him, how will people know what He means to us? If we seldom speak His word or use His holy name in our conversations, how will others know that He so wonderfully fills our hearts? The fact is, we must honor and glorify Him while we live if we want our dear Lord to be honored as our tale is told.

Second, hopefully our tale will tell of our love for His bride, the church. There are people who never attend, how can it be thought that they love the church? If I never came around my wife or children, never had anything good to say about them; how would anyone imagine that I loved them? On the other hand, if we are faithful to attend, we serve as opportunities present themselves, and always have a good word to say about the body; folks will know that we love our church. The Psalmist openly declared his love for the house of God and joyfully joined those who assembled there (Psalm 122:1). Today we need to begin to show that we really do care for and love the church, then it will be included in our tale as it is told.

Third, hopefully our tale will have something to say about the word and truth of God. Those who forsake the truth for social favors, who never openly defend the doctrines that honor God; how can it be said that they loved God's word of truth? On the other hand, when we take the Bible as our lamp and light, readit, study it, share its truths with others and rejoice when it is preached in its fullness; then it can be said that such a person truly loves the teachings of the Bible. Many in our world today dispise God's word and mock anyone who dares to make referenceto its teachings. It is not always easy to stand on such an unpopular side, but we will gladly do so if we love God's word. The Psalmist declared his love for God's word (Psalm 119:97) and multitudes have manifested their love for the Bible. Have you? If so, it will be a part of your tale that is told.


From the above challenges, may we realize that our story is now being compiled. We live life as a tale that is told (seldom while here, most often after we have completed our brief journey of life). Perhaps Revelation 14:13 has something to say about this lesson from the Old Testament. Our works will follow us, and what better way than in our tale that is told?

The wordly only want their story to speak of accomplishments, money an properties acquired, notarity and fame. But those of us who hope for heaven hereafter, should want our tale to tell of the good things of God, how He loved us and saved us. Think about what you want your story to tell, then committ yourself to such holy purposes as you live each day.

If we truly want to praise our Lord while we live, we will want to praise Him in the story of our life. May others be able to see the grace of God in us and praise Him for His priceless gift of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is suggested in Acts 11:23, that grace can be seen and I believe it is seen in godly lives. Life truly is as a tale that is told!

Return to:

Copyright © 2014 Light From God's Word. All Rights Reserved.
This page last updated on June 17, 2014