and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.
6 “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.
7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.
In the context of this psalm, David is asking for restraint to keep him from uttering his doubt and discouragement before his enemies, who were unbelievers. David is trying not to react in the flesh. He is asking God to help him from saying things that will tarnish God's name. As he did this, he says he heart burned with a fire. It was not easy for him.
Here is what one commentator has said,
"David's feelings were running high enough to be taken for disloyalty if he had vented them in the wrong company." (Kidner)
To put this matter in perspective David reflects on the brevity of life. He is not asking God to show him when he is going to die when he says, "Show me the length of my days". He is asking God to show him how short life is so, he can have the strength to honor God in his present circumstances.
David, "Compares his life to a 'handbreadth,' one of the smallest units of measurement in ancient Israel. It is equivalent to 'a couple of inches.'"
What might we say about this? David goes from an emotional, reactionary response, to considering the bigger picture. David weighs the long term consequences before acting. David has learned from other times in his life when his compulsive reaction not only hurt him, but did not bring praise to God's name. This is ultimately his most important goal in life. He knows that if he focuses on what is eternal his life with have an eternal quality to it.
Where do you need to step out of your present situation where your desire is to lash out or take matters into your hands, and reflect on how insignificant this matter is when compared to the shortness of life.
It is also been said, "Don't worry about the small stuff!"And most of the stuff we worry about is small stuff!