For all our days are passed away in thy wrath
The life of man is rather measured by days than by months or years; and these are but few, which pass away or "decline" F7 as the day does towards the evening; see ( Jeremiah 6:4 ) or "turn away their face", as the word F8 may be rendered: they turn their backs upon us, and not the face to us; so that it is a hard thing to get time by the forelock; and these, which is worst of all, pass away in the "wrath" of God. This has a particular reference to the people of Israel in the wilderness, when God had swore in his wrath they should not enter into the land of Canaan, but wander about all their days in the wilderness, and be consumed there; so that their days manifestly passed away under visible marks of the divine displeasure; and this is true of all wicked men, who are by nature children of wrath, and go through the world, and out of it, as such: and even it may be said of man in general; the ailments, diseases, and calamities, that attend the state of infancy and youth; the losses, crosses, and disappointments, vexations and afflictions, which wait upon man in riper years; and the evils and infirmities of old age, do abundantly confirm this truth: none but God's people can, in any sense, be excepted from it, on whom no wrath comes, being loved with an everlasting love; and yet these, in their own apprehensions, have frequently the wrath of God upon them, and pass many days under a dreadful sense of it:
we spend our years as a tale that is told;
or as a "meditation" F25 a thought of the heart, which quickly passes away; or as a "word" F26, as others, which is soon pronounced and gone; or as an assemblage of words, a tale or story told, a short and pleasant one; for long tales are not listened to; and the pleasanter they are, the shorter the time seems to be in which they are told: the design of the metaphor is to set forth the brevity, and also the vanity, of human life; for in tales there are often many trifling and vain things, as well as untruths told; men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree a lie, in every state; and, in their best state, they are altogether vanity: a tale is a mere amusement; affects for a while, if attended to, and then is lost in oblivion; and such is human life: in a tale there is oftentimes a mixture, something pleasant, and something tragic; such changes are there in life, which is filled up with different scenes of prosperity and adversity: and perhaps this phrase may point at the idle and unprofitable way and manner in which the years of life are spent, like that of consuming time by telling idle stories; some of them spent in youthful lusts and pleasures; others in an immoderate pursuit of the world, and the things of it; very few in a religious way, and these with great imperfection, and to very little purpose and profit; and particularly point to the children of Israel in the wilderness, who how they spent their time for thirty eight years there, we have no tale nor story of it. The Targum is,
``we have consumed the days of our life as the breath or vapour of the mouth in winter,''which is very visible, and soon passes away; see ( James 4:14 ) .