Psalms 102:11 AV
My days are like a shadow that declineth;
and I am withered like grass.
My days are like a shadow that declineth.
His days were but a shadow at best, but now they seem to be like a shadow which was passing away. A shadow is unsubstantial enough, how feeble a thing must a declining shadow be? No expression could more forcibly set forth his extreme feebleness.
And I am withered like grass.
He was like grass, blasted by a parching wind, or cut down with a scythe, and then left to be dried up by the burning heat of the sun. There are times when through depression of spirit a man feels as if all life were gone from him, and existence had become merely a breathing death.
Heart-break has a marvellously withering influence over our entire system; our flesh at its best is but as grass, and when it is wounded with sharp sorrows, its beauty fades, and it becomes a shrivelled, dried, uncomely thing.
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Explanatory notes and quaint sayings
My days (my term of life) are as the lengthened shade, the lengthening shade of evening, that shows the near approach of night. The comparison, though not strictly expressed, is beautifully suggestive of the thought intended.
— Thomas J. Conant.
The and I, in the Hebrew, stands in designed contrast to “But thou,” (Psalms 102:12).
— A. R. Fausset.
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My days are like a shadow that declineth
Or, “that is stretched out”, which, though it may appear long, is soon at an end; as it does appear longer when the sun sets, and departs from the earth: he reckons his life not by months and years, but by days; and these he compares to a “shadow”, which has no substance in it; his age being as nothing before the Lord, and has much darkness and obscurity in it; his days being days of darkness, affliction, and trouble, and quickly gone, as man’s life is; there is no abiding; (see Chronicles 29:15; Job 14:2).
Pindar calls man the dream of a shadow
And I am withered like grass
Which in the morning is flourishing, is cut down at noon, and withered at evening: this is the case of all flesh, however beautiful and goodly it may look; it is weak, frail, and mortal; cannot stand before the force of afflictions, which quickly consume strength and beauty, and much less before the scythe of death; (see Psalms 90:5,6; Isaiah 40:6-8).
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Hints for pastors and laypersons
Verse 11-12. I and Thou, or the notable contrast.
▪︎ I: my days are like a shadow,
• Because it is unsubstantial;
• because it partakes of the nature of the darkness which is to absorb it;
• because the longer it becomes the briefer its continuance.
▪︎ I am like grass cut down by the scythe; scorched by drought.
▪︎ Thou. Lord.
• Ever enduring.
• Ever memorable.
• Ever the study of passing generations of men.
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