Psalms 55:23 commentary

Psa 55:23 But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.

In Psalms 55:23 David describes how God will bless the righteous and punish the wicked. An interesting phrase in employed against those who God will strike down. They will not “live out half their days.” In Job a similar phrase is used. Man’s days are determined and he cannot pass:

Job 14:5 Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,

The figure of speech being employed in both these scenarios is that man has an upper limit on his lifespan. Man can grow old and die. No one is immortal. He lives out his days when he dies at old age. When he dies young, he does not live out his days. Neither phrase speaks towards determinism. The Israelites were not seeing a man’s life as fated and dying young as subverting that fate. Instead, the most natural take-away is that a fated lifespan was not an available position in Israelite theology so much so that it didn’t factor into their discussions of human life.

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