For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. (Psalm 103:14)
Before guitarist Kenny Livgren wrote these lyrics in 1977, and long before the Native American poem inspiring that song was written, King David recognized and recorded the truth behind these words: “all we are is dust in the wind.”
Psalm 103 is a beautiful and profound song of praise to God. Verse 14, in particular, is one I repeat often: “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” One reason I remember this verse so fondly is due to a particular night at church when it was read aloud. Instantly those last words became the source of uncontrollable and inappropriate laughter between my daughter and myself. We reacted like eight-year-olds hearing, “we are butt-dust.” (Oh, like you haven’t laughed at sillier things!) I don’t share this memory to make light of God’s Word. To the contrary, the description seems a pretty accurate comparison of mankind to God. Lest I ever think too highly of myself, God has humorously burned those words into my brain. Yet there’s a far better reason for remembering this verse – the literal translation for “frame”, used here, is “formation” or “fashioning”, and is the same word used in Genesis 2:7, “the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…” Think about that. The Creator fashioned mankind from dust and, through His very breath, made us alive! Only the Breath of Life could take “us” from the middle of dust.
What we view as having “control” is just an illusion exposed by the arrival of the unexpected. At that point, when circumstances are insurmountable or irreversible, it becomes obvious – we’re not God. But… we are His kids! In fact, verse 13 describes the love of a father, which is why God remembers our frame with such compassion. Note some examples of this, as quoted by Spurgeon:
- He pities our childish ignorance.
- He pities our childish weakness.
- He pities our childish foolishness.
- He pities our childish naughtiness.
- He pities our childish stumbles and falls.
- He pities the pain of His children.
- He pities the child when another has wronged him.
- He pities the fears of His children.
Be assured, the One who made us knows us. Let’s, in turn, remember what we know about Him! (v. 3-12) He pardons sin, heals diseases, redeems life, satisfies years. He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness. He hasn’t dealt with us according to our sins or rewarded us according to our iniquities (our “just” reward would be hell). To top that off, “from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him.” (v. 17) All of Psalm 103 blesses the Lord for his benefits, praising the greatness of God. David’s song comes from a place of grasping the vastness between God’s fullness and mankind’s frailty.
That catchy Kansas tune is true, “all we are is dust in the wind” (sometimes prideful dust, in need of this reminder). But thanks to our loving Father, a useless pile of dirt became a precious child of worth. Yet, winds of change have a way of tossing us into doubt and despair, leaving us as dissatisfied with the vanity of life as David’s son, Solomon. Before choking on a cyclone of your own dust, remember – prayer clears the air for praise. Ask the Almighty for a fresh filling of His Spirit. Breathe in His love, bathe in His Word and bask in His bountiful benefits. Then, sing to the Lord a new song, not of dust or us, but to Him, for His glory. One that comes to mind is by All Sons and Daughters (like us!): “Your glory is so beautiful, I fall onto my knees in awe, And the heartbeat of my life is to worship in Your light, ‘Cause Your glory is so beautiful.”