In the very last words of this verse, we find what appears to be one of the strangest phrases in Scripture: there is no hope. Although we often feel this way about our short time as Earth-tenants, there is clearly more to this phrase than meets the eye.
There are many other plausible translations, such as “there is no abiding”, that help inform our understanding. The idea is that we cannot stay. Our days are numbered. All we do is subject to the effects of time. We cannot hope to find our full meaning here, as tenants and sojourners. There is no abiding in the circumstances of this life. They will, inevitably, come to an end. And this end marks a new beginning.
This verse is found in the middle of a prayer offered by King David at the very end of his life. David is acknowledging a reality that is sometimes hard for us to accept – our lives are transitory. David can’t stay. He has to go. Like all men, he must die. But this is not a prayer of lament. It is a prayer of rejoicing. By acknowledging the reality of our short time on this Earth, we allow ourselves to experience life to the fullest. The intensity of life’s brevity is our invitation to intentionality.
We have the chance to participate in the great dance of life. The story of God and mankind. This brief life is our one and only opportunity to live and come to know God by faith.
Our hope is not in continuing to pay rent on this Earth long after our lease expires. Our hope is in participating in the Kingdom of God during this short and beautiful life. And doing so as a prelude for what is to come.
“For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope.”
– 1 Chronicles 29:15