39 vs 969: The Brevity of Longevity                            


  … and he died (Gen. 5:27)

Two men, one thirty-nine and the other nine hundred and sixty-nine, stepped into time in different era. One was conquered totally by death even after living for so long; the other rose above the confines of the grave and reached beyond the limits of mortality.

One named Martin and the other Methuselah. Martin, whom we would come to know as Martin Luther King Jr, lived for thirty-nine years before bowing out to an assassin’s bullet. Methuselah, a Hebrew life-expectancy genius, lived for an incredible nine-hundred and sixty-nine years. The stories of these characters only emphasize one fact: you are as old as you live after death. (That is why the oldest Man that ever lived is not Methuselah but the Messiah, having lived for just thirty-three years in time but with a posthumous influence that has spanned for over two millennia, yet counting. This is only a necessary digression.)

We normally do not need a long lifetime to etch our names on the pages of history. All we need is to have lived here long enough to be known as a living entity. Dr King, who represents the 39  above, made a sublime submission:

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle… some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer… so you refuse to take the stand.

Well, you may go on and live to be 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.


You can live a very long brief life; you can also live a very brief long life. The first is the Methuselah model while the second is the Messiah model where Martin falls into.

There was a precious soul by the name of Anne Frank who adopted the very brief long life model. She lived to be only sixteen (1929-1945), but kept a magnificent diary famously dubbed, The Diary of a Little Girl. She captured in her diary:

I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living after my death.

Now, that is an anti-Methuselah mode. After having lived for so long, three words are enough to sum up the life of the oldest breed of Adam: and he died.

May we not live and die like Methuselah when there is a more excellent way. Selah



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