As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. (Psalm 103:15–16)
“Man is like grass.”
Psalm 103 isn’t the only place the Bible tells us this.
Isaiah 40:6–7 says, “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.”
There is an important picture here that we can’t miss. David, the psalmist, along with the prophet Isaiah, is saying something to us. There are two crucial takeaways seen in two points of vivid contrast:
• First, there is the finitude of man.
• Second, there is the eternality of the gospel.
The Finitude of Man
Grass turns out to be a brilliant metaphor — and extremely accessible. Everyone knows about grass. It’s everywhere. No matter what kind it is — a highway ditch or the 18th hole — grass is the stuff that comes up from the ground, serves its purpose for a season, and then dies to be replaced with newer grass. And the Bible tells us, in no uncertain terms, that man is like grass. You and me are like grass.
But do we really believe that?
We certainly don’t feel it most times. Days can be long, not to mention years, or decades. Perhaps we yawn and carry on, passing the time by always anticipating that next best thing. Or maybe our lives are so filled with busyness that our projects run circles around the clock and we can’t believe another week has gone by.
But we’re grass, I tell you — grass. A hundred years from now we’d be amazingly privileged to be in anyone’s memory. Chances are two hundred years from now no one here will know we ever existed. The houses we lived in will be gone. The things we built will be vanished. We flourished for a season, like a flower, but then we’re gone and our own residence knows us no more.
The Gospel Is Everlasting
Now, all this talk about grass is kind of bleak. It doesn’t seem like the best way to prepare our hearts for worship. But wait. There is another point about Psalm 103:15–16 we need to understand. It’s that the gospel is everlasting.
You see, God is saying something about man to say something about himself.
We’re supposed to feel these words: “As for man, his days are like grass” — and then we’re supposed to feel the contrast that comes in verse 17, “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him . . .”
It’s about the contrast. We hear this grass-talk about who we are until it pushes us out of the plane, abandoning us, in a sense, to pull the chute on God’s steadfast love.
Yes, man is like grass, here and gone. Yes, man is finite, it’s place knows it no more. But God’s love — God’s faithfulness — is from everlasting to everlasting. He will always do what is right. He will always act in ways that are consistent with his character. His words and promises will never fail. There is no gust that will blow away the faithfulness of him who commands the wind.
In Awe Forever
It’s settled. It’s done. It’s forever. God’s love is from everlasting to everlasting.
And, to be sure, it is not love in a generic way. This is God’s love in the gospel. The love demonstrated in death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — that is what’s everlasting. God’s steadfast love, his mercy, his faithfulness, the way he revealed his name, all that is consistent with his character — it is all of this that is fulfilled in Jesus’s cross and empty tomb. This is the love that will never end.
We are finite, but God’s love for us in Jesus is infinite. We cannot be separated from it. That is the kind of God he is, which means, we, grass as we are, can stop talking. We can stop worrying. We can stop working to earn his favor. Because of his love, because of Jesus, because we are united to him by faith, we can stand in awe of him. We can let our words be few. We can celebrate his love forever.