Verses 5 and 11 of Psalm 39 both end with the exact same assertion: “surely every man is a mere breath.” It is also of note that following each of these verses is the Hebrew word, “Selah.” While the exact translation of this word is uncertain, many believe it to mean a contemplative pause — an opportunity to think about what has just been said.
Both of these verses end with the same reminder of the transience of man, and both are the occasion for a selah, or pause to think. So we have this double reminder in Psalm 39: “every man is a mere breath,” and “selah” –THINK ABOUT IT! So indeed we should … What does it mean for us that “every man is a mere breath”? Let’s “think about it” for a moment as the Psalm exhorts us:
— It means that the people you fear, or who oppose you, are a mere breath, and will not always be around. That should be a comfort!
— It also means that the people you love and respect and look up to, are also a mere breath, and will not always be there for you! That is a challenge for us to depend upon God and not people.
— It also means that YOU YOURSELF are human, and therefore also a “mere breath.” This is a good reminder of your own frailty and transience. You will not be here on earth forever, but only for a few predetermined days, which will be over before you know it. This should dramatically affect the way you live your life. How specifically should this affect your personal attitudes and practices? “SELAH”: that is, take some time to “think about it”!