“O LORD, make me know my end…”
~ Psalm 39:4
How do you see yourself? How do you consider your motivations?...if you do at all. Do you know your aim/objective? Are you intentional in these things? Whether you are or aren’t, are you rightly aware of, or operating in, these things?
Our motivations matter (1 Samuel 16:7). Our foundational perspective has relevance in reality (2 Cor. 4:18; Matt. 6:22-23). Have you ever made what turned out to be a self-righteous, wrongly motivated oath or vow to yourself? A promise to execute an appearance of obedience or righteousness sourced in a wrong motive or actually aimed at an objective beyond the self-righteous act itself?
David here admits that he did so and to disastrous end. The same has been true for me. And if you are honest, I know has been true for you as well. David, in consideration of his wicked enemies, made a vow to not speak in retaliation or self-defense. We may think such an personal pledge is a good and right thing to do, for Jesus himself taught such a thing and evidenced such a thing when before his accusers before his crucifixion. But we see here in Ps. 39 that David confesses that such a tactic ended in failure and being in a worse place than when he started. That is because he did so to prove himself different/separate/above/better than his enemies; and perhaps even to shame them, or guilt them, or frustrate them. He did not do so for the truly righteous reasons that Christ taught and exampled.
After disaster came (more sin as his heart was exposed, v.3), David then rightly turns to the LORD, confessing his self-reliance, his errant motivations and objectives (v.4-8). And then after pursuing God and his ways, David ends up still in a state of keeping his mouth shut (v.9). But now his silence is from the motivation of knowing how fleeting and insignificant he is in comparison to God (v.4-5,11). And his aim is the glory and exultation of God not of himself (v.7,9). No longer a pursuit of self-righteousness but living a display of the righteousness of God.
Be willing to ask the LORD to make known to you your end, the measure of your days, the fleeting nature of your existence; and then rest in the hope of his deliverance, the peace of his forgiveness, the joy of his presence.