The God who formed man from the dust knows the limitations of that frame. God knows our weakness. I’ll mention a few encouraging implications of this fact that come to my mind.
“For He Himself knows . . .”. This verse hinges on the first word, “for”, and the context is the compassion of the Lord. Starting at verse 13: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103:13,14) It’s a simple picture. God as a father looks upon the struggles of His children and looks on them with compassion. The Lord is compassionate with us because we are but dust.
Since God knows we’re made of dust, He wouldn’t leave us to struggle alone. Throughout scripture, there is a rich theme of God’s help for His children. He is “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Jesus lives to make intercession for believers (Heb 7:25). A clear promise of the Lord’s help is found in Heb 13:5, 6: “[…] For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
But lest anyone think that being made of dust is an excuse for sin, the Lord promised to be a help in temptation: “[…] God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1Co 10:13). Though we are dust, God supplies all that we need to escape temptation, which means human weakness can never excuse us from sin. “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” (2Pe 1:3)
Possibly most awe-inspiring of all is that God understands what it is like to have a frame of dust. Psalm 103:11 says that “as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” The span from heaven to earth is the distance that Christ came to take on a body of dust. It was in this lovingkindness that Jesus was “made like his brothers in every respect” (Heb 2:17). As the hymn writer wrote: “Verily God, yet become truly human.” He “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15). While fully God, Jesus became a real man and directly experienced sorrows and pain. He was born into a poor family, rejected by his brothers, largely rejected by his nation, betrayed, falsely accused, mistreated, and put to death in his youth. It is by His death that He has “removed our transgressions from us”, “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Jesus, by experience, knows what it feels like to have a frame of dust.
God knows we are dust and with this in mind, He is compassionate towards us, willing to help us live a life pleasing to Him. We can also be encouraged that Jesus lived as a man and experienced the hardships that we face. Though we are dust, God has graciously supplied all that we need.