04/16/F – Vanity and Substance

Job 12:1-13:28; 1 Corinthians 15:29-44; Psalms 39:6-13; Proverbs 13:7-8

Psalms: “Yes, a person goes about like a mere shadow. Indeed, they rush around in vain, gathering possessions without knowing who will get them. Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you. Rescue me from all my transgressions; do not make me the taunt of fools… You discipline a person with punishment for iniquity, consuming like a moth what is precious to him; yes, every human being is only a vapor. Selah Hear my prayer, Lord, and listen to my cry for help; do not be silent at my tears. For I am here with you as an alien, a temporary resident like all my ancestors. Turn your angry gaze from me so that I may be cheered up before I die and am gone.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39:6-8, 11-13‬ ‭CSB)

Most of King David’s life was categorized as devoted to The Lord God, His plans and purposes. However, there were a few times in the Biblical record where David gave in to the trappings of this world. Most of the time, the spoils that David won in battle were dedicated to the Lord, but there was a time (during the capture of Rabbah in 2 Samuel 12) that David allowed the plundered crown to be placed on his own head instead of dedicated to God. It was also during that time that David pursued his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. Then, there was a time when David ordered an unrighteous census to stoke his ego. Each time David pursued the things of this world instead of the purposes of God, David was disciplined by the Lord. I wonder if Psalm 39 was written during one of those times of worldly indiscretion. From David’s writing, we can see that he had transgressed, and that his transgression had brought about painful discipline… and during his time of discipline, David came to realize the vanity of pursuing worldly things that eventually come to nothing – like a moth eating away at a wool garment. It was there in the midst of his pain-stoked awareness that David realized that the only meaningful substance of life came from waiting on and hoping in the Lord.

Jesus taught that we are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness instead of seeking the things of this world. Jesus said that if we seek first the substantive things of the Kingdom – the things that moth and rust cannot destroy – the things that last forever, then the secondary things of this world that we need will be given to us. As David found out, if we instead seek first the secondary things of this world, we will lose the primary things of substance as well as the secondary things that eventually pass away. Our life here on earth is a vapor. This mortal existence that we inhabit is temporary. How much better it is to seek things of kingdom substance than worldly vanity.

Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to become enamored by the pleasures and possessions of this world, and make those desires and dreams our primary pursuit. However, You teach me in Your word to be eternally minded – to pursue truly substantive things like the kingdom of God and righteousness. Lord, help me, as I live in this world, to not be of it – to not pursue secondary things which will pass away with time, but to pursue Your purposes while trusting You to provide all the earthly things that I need. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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