You turn man back into dust And say, “Return, O children of men.”
Who ultimately makes the decision of the exact moment when a person dies? Doctors? Soldiers? Police? The person themselves? According to this verse, the Lord Himself decides the point at which our spirits leave our bodies, and we begin a process of biological decay that sends our material elements back into the earth from which they came and from which they grew. But looking at the newspapers, it would appear that God has very little to do anymore with the death of human beings. Homicide, disease, traumatic accidents, combat, physician assisted suicide…the list goes on of ways that humans seem to be the final judges of who dies, why they die, and the moment at which they die. As I’ve written, the Bible says otherwise, that God actually determines these things. I used to hate that idea—God arbitrarily deciding the moment of my death, as if I had nothing to do with it. Now, I think to myself, “Who better to have the fate of my earthly, physical existence in His hands than God Himself. Do I want such the decision to rest wholly in the will of any person, group, or fate, or (perhaps the worse of them all) me myself?!” Death is hateful to humans (particularly our own death!), but not precious. To most of us, it is certainly not a divine-human transaction that precludes physical resurrection to an eternal life. Perhaps that is why we haven’t been able to fight, kill, legislate, or simply rip, the ultimate control over death out of the hands of God. Our lives are in His hands, and to simply rest and trust in this truth is one of the deepest expressions of faith I have ever been challenged to live. Psalm 90 is a poem Moses wrote about time; all time, including the timing of your own death. May we look at the verse from the viewpoint that allows us to rejoice that as our death is in the hands of God, so are our continued, blessed lives.
Let’s pray to day for the wisdom and humility to live as people who do not know the moment of death, and so live each moment of life in wisdom and obedience to our Lord. Look around you—today; you will probably see people who will not be alive in 20 years, 10 years, perhaps even a year. When He calls them to “Return” to the dust, will they have had the opportunity to know and be saved by the One who will one day call into the dust, “Arise,” and command it to give up its dead? Any that you know who are sick, ill, or injured; suffering in any way today, please pray for both their physical and spiritual health and healing.