[Cliffs of Moher, 2014, JA Van Devender]
Psalm 49:6–7 (NKJV)
6 Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches, 7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him—
About the only impressive feature of the tower poised at this point, is the perspective it gives to the majestic cliff it crowns.
The image can be taken metaphorically I think. When you stand right at the foot of this tower and notice its solid construction, the attention given to its placement and the strategic view it commands, it is easy to grow proud of man and his accomplishments. It is easy to see it as representing his (man's) potential to shape his world and bring his will to bear on anything that is set before him. It is easy, when you are in the midst of it and the work of man or the condition of man is "up close and personal" to lose sight of the big picture.
Standing close on to a mile away, staring across the gaping divide, the tower appears puny and somewhat paltry. When one shifts gaze to the stretching cliff, the massive power of jutting stone, the intricate and delicate interplay of vegetation and color and the sheer obstinate strength that resists the constantly pounding waves, then the tower of man's achievements is not so impressive at all.
Man, by his native constitution, is rich in potential and executive ability. Those who trust exclusively or primarily in these inherent talents or even worse, in the mere financial wealth or resources that they have accrued through these talents, have lost whatever true perspective they may have previously possessed. The ultimate proof of man's inherent helplessness stares him in the face each time he confronts the ultimate questions of life.
Can man do anything to purchase his own salvation? Can man do anything to cancel the ultimacy of his own mortality? If birth is the first step on the road to death, how can it be possible to not see every passing moment as being comparable to life on death row?
Man is helpless against the power of death... and the threat of death (its sting) which is its judicial character. Death is the wage of sin and validates the equation. Death stands as the ever present witness to man's ultimate wickedness and the certain retribution which such wickedness requires. And no man can "purchase" his redemption from that sentence nor possess the power to prolong his life without end.
Yet there is that cliff.... there is that massive foundation on which the puny strivings and edifices of man are built. Even as there is the witness to the omnipresent and inevitability of death, so man's achievements, by their very nature, point beyond themselves to the foundation on which those achievements have been gained. Man's achievements necessarily demonstrate that he carries and functions as bearing the image of God. The image of God points beyond itself to the God whose image we bear. Man's towers point to the cliff... they become the observation point by which the perspective of the cliff is appreciated. Properly viewed they teach that man's wisdom points to the wisdom of God, man's creations point to the Creator and His Works, man's folly highlights God's perfection, ...
At every point, man's achievements, in all their glory and impressive results, always act to shift our eyes to a different perspective so that humility and gratitude replace arrogance and pride.
No matter how glorious are man's works, they are puny and futile compared to God's, but not such that they lack consequence, meaning or purpose... but rather find their consequence, meaning and purpose in the manner which they point to the Source of every blessing and the Provider of all good things.
We need to step back and put things in perspective every once in a while... or every day if need be. The world of man and our own smaller world of self can occupy the full range of our interest if we let it. Whether as causes of joy or as heralds of fear, the details of the little tower that is our individual life may so consume our attention that the majesty, power and glory of the rock on which we rest may be completely ignored.
But by drawing aside, taking a moment to just gaze at the whole picture, our tower can regain its rightful significance and sense of purpose. Our finite life is important to the whole picture... but we have to remember which aspects of that picture truly are the most impressive.