What does Psalm 103:16 mean?
ESV: for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
NIV: the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
NASB: When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place no longer knows about it.
CSB: when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known.
NLT: The wind blows, and we are gone — as though we had never been here.
KJV: For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
NKJV: For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.
Verse Commentary:
Continuing his thought about the frailty and brevity of human life, David notes how the wind passes over the grass and withers it. Not a trace of the grass remains after the wind tears it down. Isaiah 40:6–8 carries the same thought by stating that "all flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field." Both the grass and the flower wither and fade when the Lord blows on it.

In dry climates a scorching wind often dries up grass and flowers and leaves no trace of them. Human life may span a century, but the years pass quickly and death comes inevitably, leaving only memories. The apostle James compared the rich to grass that succumbs to the rays of the scorching sun. He concludes: "So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits" (James 1:11). He also compares human life to a mist that appears for a brief time and then vanishes (James 4:14). In view of life's brevity and uncertainty, James underscores the importance of living every day according to the Lord's will (James 4:15).
Verse Context:
Psalm 103:6–19 reflects on the Lord's benefits to Israel. Deuteronomy 6:1–15 contains the Lord's promise to bless the people of Israel if they would obey him. Psalm 105 and 106 are companion psalms that stress the Lord's goodness to Israel.
Chapter Summary:
Psalm 103 praises God for what He has done. This includes celebration of His personal influence, as well as the way God has blessed the nation of Israel. David encourages praises from himself, from the people in general, and even from the angels and hosts of heaven.
Chapter Context:
Psalm 103 is one of four psalms which complete the fourth division of the book of Psalms (Psalms 90—106). These four psalms ascribe praise to the Lord. Psalm 103 was written by David and expresses his gratitude to the Lord for all His benefits. First Thessalonians 5:18 conveys the same theme of thanksgiving by exhorting believers to ''give thanks in all circumstances.''
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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