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The psalmist asked the same question that is asked by man in each generation. “For what futility have you created all the children of men?” (Psalm 89:47, NKJV). In different translations it reads: “Why do you make all people so mortal?” (New English Translation). “Remember how short my life is, how empty and futile this human existence!” (New Living Translation).

There are circumstances in life that drive people to express such sentiments, but in their expressive frustrations, many choose different answers. The psalmist never lost sight of rationality; he knew well the Lord God brought man into existence. He was not of the irrational mindset that said the material universe came into existence from nothing, absolutely nothing. Neither was he of the silly notion that the material universe has always existed.

He may not have known much, but he knew that he was brought into existence by a power, force, and mind greater than anything of human creation. No, the psalmist was clear thinking, but his frustrations on this occasion were great. “What is the point of life!” he yells out.

If he was so rational and concluded that God brought it into existence, why is it that others who are equally rational conclude that God does not exist? Two reasons, I suppose. First, there is a strong desire and inclination to reject anything that is religious. Is it a matter of evidence? Not really. Evidence abounds. It is a matter of one’s desire to not be constrained or required to think there is One to whom we all must give an account (Heb. 4:12-13). A second reason is related to morality. If there is no God, then there is no moral code higher or greater than the one who made up the code he lives by. Strangely, for some, this is a liberating way of thinking. It is liberating until the moral code of another directly and adversely affects the one who made up his own code, thereby rejecting the Lord’s standard of right conduct. To reject the Lord’s standard of right conduct is to reject the Lord’s standard of righteousness (cf. 1 John 5:10).

The psalmist understood all these things. Earlier in the Psalm, he wrote, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (89:14, ESV). What does man know about righteousness or justice? If he is wise, he knows that with the Lord both exist, but without the Lord he knows that both are arbitrary, based on the whim of man’s thinking. With the Lord there is no futility.

Ron Thomas (updated, 6.22.2020 from an earlier writing)