Theme: This World Is Not My Home
In this week’s lessons we see how David responds in the midst of trouble, which is by taking his cares to the Lord and trusting him to act.
Scripture: Psalm 39:1-13
The New Testament perspective on the idea of an alien is found in several places, for example, in 1 Peter 2:11: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” It is an appeal to live like citizens of the heavenly country to which we belong and to which we are going and not as citizens of this earth.
Again, there are the examples of Hebrews 11, described in verse 13: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” In the next chapter, having listed the Old Testament saints as examples, the author of Hebrews applies the pilgrim principle to those of his day much as Peter did in the verse to which I have just referred: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).
Jesus had a short life of only thirty-three years. Yet his was the most significant ever lived. If we live for him, our lives will be significant too, however short or long they may be. As Alexander Maclaren says, “The lives that are lived before God cannot be trifles.”6
The last request in this psalm is not a particularly edifying one, though it is understandable: “Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more” (v. 13). This is asking God to lift his heavy hand of judgment so the psalmist may be happy once again before he dies. It is what Job meant in the verses I quoted earlier: “Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant” (Job 7:19)? Or even more directly later, “Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and deep shadow” (Job 10:20, 21).
This is quite understandable, as I said. Most of us have probably had times when we have thought along these lines. But there is a better way. Instead of worrying about where God had fixed his eyes, we should be concerned about where our eyes are fixed and should fix them on God himself, on the Lord Jesus Christ and on that eternal city yet to come (Heb. 11:10). That is what it means rightly to number our days and to apply our hearts to wisdom.
What is the theological meaning of the concept of “alien” in the New Testament?
How does this theme shape your perspective on life and death?
Key Point: Instead of worrying about where God had fixed his eyes, we should be concerned about where our eyes are fixed and should fix them on God himself, on the Lord Jesus Christ and on that eternal city yet to come (Heb. 11:10).
Reflection: How is the Lord working in your life to cause you to trust in his providential care and to fix your eyes on eternal and lasting things?