This meditation by Rev. Gerrit Vos on Psalm 90:10 was first published in the January 1, 1963 issue of the Standard Bearer (Vol.39, No.7).
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away." Psalm 90:10
The days of our years!
When we are hard, superficial, indifferent, callous, it seems as though there is no end of them.
And who is not hard, superficial, indifferent, and callous?
Don't throw these adjectives away from you: they are your calling card. That is, for the most of your days and years, even at best.
Let's admit it: we commonly drift on the stream of time in our little boat. And we seem to drift endlessly. It is no wonder that the wicked say: my house shall stand for aye!
That is especially so when we attain to threescore years and ten, or fourscore years.
In such case it is difficult to imagine that soon we will be no more. We do not live with that thought. Our hearts say: tomorrow we will do this and the other thing. There is always tomorrow!
When we get to be a little older and celebrate our birthdays, we grow still. When we come to the end of a year, we grow stiller.
Another year came to its end! O God!
Oh, it is good to count our days in order that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Look at the clock, and look especially at the second hand. See how it visibly spins around? And then think on this truth: some day, some hour, some minute, some second that hand will stand still: it will be the second of my death.
Yes, the days of the years of our lives. There is a certain span of time given to each and every one. It is measured off in eternity, and given in history, in time.
It cannot be shortened or lengthened, no, not even when we commit suicide, which God forbid.
The Bible is clear on that. Read Psalm 39:5, "Behold, Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth . . ."
God makes your days. He makes them long or short, but He makes them.
And when the last second is lived, He comes to get you, ready or not. The Bible calls it "This night thy soul shall be required of thee . . ." Luke 12:20b.
Old year's eve is a messenger of God to all of us. And his testimony is: Redeem your time!
How brief are our days of the years of our lives!
They are seventy years.
But that does not mean that every one attains unto them.
In fact, most people do not live that long.
Even if we attain unto the span of seventy years, how brief are they.
No, it does not seem so when we stand before the seventy years. Then it seems as though we have oceans of time. It really seems as though there is no end.
No, but it is that way when we look backward. The present writer is two years short of that span of seventy, and when I look back it seems but yesterday when I began my weary walk through the years.
Our years are seemingly carried away as with a flood; they are as a sleep when one awakens; they are as a tale that is told.
That is especially so when viewed in the light of eternity. Then one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years, as one day. As a watch in the night; as yesterday when it is past.
Come on, think of your yesterday while you read this. What is it then? Twenty-four hours? Oh no, but really it is as a light mist. It is seen for a moment and it is gone.
And this brevity of our days is a serious thing.
It tells you that you are not made for time, but for eternity.
Your are rocked in the cradle of the deep, of the deep God!
The last evening of the year is a messenger of God.
And he says: Return! Your are getting closer and closer to God's face. Here on earth you receive many messengers of God, but there comes a day, an hour, a minute, a second, when the last messenger has spoken his tale, and then you will see Him!
Look at your days.
If by reason of strength you receive many of them, you will note that even their very strength is labor and sorrow.
The word "strength" here means the prime, the very best of your days. Now then, the very best of the days of your life are labor and sorrow.
Labor in my text means wearisome and painful effort, travail, misery, anguish, incessant toil, without getting anywhere.
And sorrow means literally to be nothing, not to be: negative power in your life. As in other languages: no, nie, na, non, nay, etc.
Or as in the German, which is almost literally Hebrew: ohne, which means to be without.
At the strength of my years, there I stand with empty hands.
If you raise a doubt about that, think on the long days when you shall be dead and buried, always lying down and looking up at the cover of your coffin.
Do you know what the Bible says about that? This: and their place shall know them no more!
Think of the dead in your own circle. They flew away and where is their place? In most instances another took that place. Those that wept and shed bitter tears at your bier are now smiling and laughing. They have forgotten.
No, man was not ever thus.
There was a time when he was very happy in his work. And he stood before the face of God with his hands full to overflowing. His hands were raised to the heavens full of the praises of God.
But fallen man labors and gets nowhere.
Result? Sorrow, nothing, vanity. Read Solomon.
Remember how one called this earth a vale of tears?
And the horror for man is that he shall be judged as though nothing changed. Remember the parables of the talents and the pounds?
When we come to the last second in our lives and we fly away, we fly directly to God. And that God demands absolute perfection of everyone. He demands perfect work, happy work, and full hands of praises to God.
And the deepest reason why our days, our best days, are labor and sorrow is this: the wrath of God.
The Lord God walks among us and cuts off the stream of time allotted, and says at every sickbed which turns into a deathbed: Return, ye children of men! Return to destruction!
God carries our days away as with a flood. Our days are consumed by His anger, and by His wrath our days are troubles. In fact, all our days are passed away in Thy wrath, the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us.
Here we stand at the end of another year that was given to us, but the end of that year says: it is soon cut off and we fly away!
Yes, we soon fly away like iron to the magnet. And the MAGNET here is God! The moment we die we see God, the living God.
You see, He gathers us in, both the good and the bad. No one ever escapes from this ingathering.
And when the last man is gathered in at the end of the ages, the books shall be opened, and the dead, both small and great shall be judged according to what is written in those books.
And let me tell you right here that if there were no Jesus, all of us would be cast into everlasting hell.
Even God's people, with all their good works, would be lost if it were not for Jesus.
In order to know that, look at your good works. Go ahead, look at them.
If you look long enough, with the spectacles of the Word of God on your nose, and the Spirit of truth in your heart, you will blush. You never did a good work that was absolutely perfect. Besides, also look at all the filth and corruption you are, spoke, did and thought. Oh yes, you will blush alright.
Listen to Moses, he will tell us: "Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance."
Yes, it grows very still in the waning hours of the last evening of nineteen hundred and sixty-two.
You know, I think that a very good prayer in that last night would be: O God, be merciful to me, the sinner!
Yes, there is a Jesus!
He was a man in everything like us, sin excepted.
And He wrought, He worked, He labored.
But He accomplished something. He worked a perfect work before the Face of God.
He removed an eternal mountain of sin, guilt, punishment, wrath and damnation. And He did it for you, my brother. He did it for you, my sister. The Bible speaks about the labor of His soul. Read Isaiah 53. Oh yes, his days were filled to the brim with work. He was Prophet, Priest and King in our stead. He loved God above all and His neighbor as Himself. He fulfilled the law of the ten commandments and exalted it. He loved God while laboring in hell.
Later, oh my God, how much later, an eternity later, He poured out the Holy Ghost into His own, God's own, and leads them through the dreary years of their pilgrimage. And He makes them work the work of God amid much stumbling and falling. But they ever rise again, and continue to look up to the final city, the city of God.
In the Old Testament you read of it. Look up and read Ezekiel 9, and especially verse 4. An angel put a mark on the foreheads of some, while the others were slaughtered.
It grows rather still on Monday night, December 31, 1962.
But let your last thought or word, or prayer be: Thanks to Thee, O great Shepherd of the sheep, for Jesus: Jehovah Saves! Amen.
Rev. Gerrit Vos was born in Sassenheim, the Netherlands on November 1, 1894. He died in Hudsonville, Michigan on July 23, 1968.
Rev. G. Vos received instruction in the PR Seminary and was ordained into the ministry in September 1927. He served churches in Sioux Center, Iowa (1927-1929); Hudsonville, Michigan (1929-1932) and again in 1948-1966. He was pastor at Redlands, California (1932-1943) and in Edgerton, Minnesota (1943-1948). He retired in 1966.
The Rev. G. Vos was very eloquent in preaching and extremely descriptive in his writings. One sermon remembered well at Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church was that preached the Sunday after a devastating tornado roared through the city in 1956. That sermon was later presented in the Standard Bearer as a meditation.
Three books of his meditations have been printed by the Men's Society of the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church and later reprinted by the Reformed Book Outlet of Hudsonville, Michigan.