For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
“Dust in the wind / All we are is dust in the wind.” This lyric was written by Kerry Livgren from the band named Kansas. Livgren also describes a life as “just a drop of water in an endless sea.” This song was actually inspired by a truth of Scripture. Though much of the song would not be considered theologically sound, the basic premise is that humankind, that includes you and me, are small, seemingly insignificant and fleeting.
In Psalm 103: 11-18, David uses the “we are dust” (v14) metaphor to contrast man’s smallness to the immensity of God’s character. In the two bookends of this passage in verses 11 and 18, David compares the “steadfast love” of our God to two examples of things of tremendous magnitude. The first is that of space. How can we ever fathom the size of our solar system which is just a speck in the vastness of the galaxy, not to mention the universe? Such is the enormous scope of the love of God for those that fear him. The psalmist further illustrates that enduring love in the word picture of time from forever ago to forever in the future. The Apostle Paul capsulizes this same thought in his prayer that the people of God would “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). God’s love is vast and totally without dimension. His love is not a fickle love that is on and off; rather, it is a “steadfast love” that we can rest confidently in.
Between the bookends of his love are two truths that express what this love looks like. First is the amazing immensity of the forgiveness that he offers his children, a forgiveness that is beyond measure, just as the distance between east and west is without measure. This forgiveness isn’t just sin overlooked, but is sin “removed” an unfathomable distance from us. The second truth is the depth of the loving relationship our God has for us. David highlights that we are recipients of an extraordinary compassion found in the loving relationship of a child with his “abba” father. Some of the most precious words of the Psalm are in verse 14; “He knows our frame”. Incredible. This compassionate Father knows a mere speck of dust like me.
Father, may we draw deep comfort in the assurance that your love and compassion are perfectly expressed in who you are and that you know and love me, a mere speck of “dust in the wind”.
– Gary Schoenwald