Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

“Make Me Know My End”

Categories: Congregational Bible Reading


“Oh LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am.” (Psalm 39.4)

If you knew you would die tomorrow, you would live very differently today. But what if that date were a month from now? What about a year from now? To be faced with the eminent nature of that date would certainly affect our behavior; but the longer it is pushed out, the less concerned we tend to be. 

The central concern of the psalm is that we ought to think about our end. We each have a single, short time on this earth. We will experience many things in this life (Ecclesiastes 3), but the daily ebbs and flows of life (which are legitimate in themselves) cannot become magnified into the meaning of life itself. We must think soberly about death because it dictates the trajectory of our life. To ignore this reality, sets us up for regret and failure. Life as we know it will end... Then what? The bible offers glimpses into the afterlife, and it’s all in the hands of our Creator.

Certain life circumstances bring this into focus: a debilitating illness… social and political unrest… the death of a close friend or family member. David appears to be in-tune with life’s brevity due to negative events in his own life (see Psalm 39.10-11). But in his musing, David’s heart burned for something greater than this life. “…I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.” (Psalm 39.12b)

Like David, we know there is an end for all of us. But David’s plea God was not for information, but personalization. Knowing our end ought to prompt a response in the present. It challenges us to ask, “what should I do with this life I have been given?” A clear understanding of life’s transience prompts changed behavior to make the best use of the remaining time (Ephesians 5.16-17).

Given what we know, this is the only wise and appropriate perspective to life. Peter Craigie wrote, “It is healthy… to combine an awareness of the transitory nature of human life as a whole, with the wisdom that ‘sufficient for the day is the evil thereof,’ … [it] is a starting point in achieving the sanity of a pilgrim in an otherwise mad world.” 

Generations have come and gone from this world, and we will all join them some day. Life’s vanity reminds us of eternity. But we must not become callous and comfortable as we endure (Ephesians 4.17-19). We are stewards of the time we have and must give an account to God. If you know you are going to die, how are you using the time you know you have left? 

“…you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4.14-15)