Numbering our days ∙
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12
4 Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.
In our 21st century hyperkinetic age, we live for the moment. To live for the moment means to focus on the pleasure one can have in the now, without fretting about possible consequences. It is to concentrate on the present, with little or no concern for the future. Young people often tend to give little thought to growing older. The thought of their death is not a concern.
The hedonistic spirit of our times has captured many people who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification.
Some 19th and 20th great thinkers also have little concern for the future, but their conviction was due to the wisdom of their years and maturity rather than hedonism. The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time (Abraham Lincoln). I never think of the future – it comes soon enough (Albert Einstein).
The Father lives in eternity. Time is actually one of His creations. The Father created time to provide sequence for His “time-bound creations.” The Father exists outside of time.
Isaiah 57:15 The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, he lives forever.
“God dwells in eternity but time dwells in God. He has already lived all our tomorrows as He has lived all our yesterdays” (A.W. Tozer).
A Kenyan proverb says, “Westerners have watches, Africans have time.” They track days, but not hours. Whatever deadlines exist are not hurried or driven by stress.
REFLECT & PRAY
We do not know how many days we have left. A successful life is composed of successful days that honor the Lord (Wiersbe).
Father, I have realized that my days are numbered. Enable me to make better choices with the time that You have allotted to me.
Psalm 90 acknowledges the vast difference between the Father of eternity and finite people. Moses is well aware that the Father’s perspective on time and eternity is totally different from the natural man. Moses had an advantage that only time, age, and maturity bring.
In earlier life stages, adults focus on the here and now, and the near future. They have little concern for what happens after that. End-of-life issues are not on their radar. It is almost as though they think they are immortal.
Moses is past that. As he aged, he became more aware of his own mortality. He sought to work things out in his mind. As he focused on the reality of the fact that his life had an expiration date, he began what we might call today a “self-check.” He wanted to take an assessment of his life and put things in better perspective.
He prayed that he would learn to “number his days.” As we number our days, we become aware of how few there really are. We realize that our time is short and death is certain. Today we would say that our “days are numbered.”
Moses had reached a point in his life where he was now there. Moses realized he needed wisdom, greater skill in his thinking. Going forward, he sought to make the best possible choices with the time he had left. “By reflecting on death, one can learn how to live” (Waltner).
Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
What does it mean to number our days? A literal translation would be “to keep an account of the days (already lived).” We are to realize how many are still left. The FRCL version translates, “Make us understand that our days are numbered” (USB).
The brevity of life is touched upon in other portions of the Scriptures.
4 LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment from your perspective; at best, each of us is but a breath.
Psalms 90:10 Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.
Deuteronomy 32:29 Would that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would know their fate!
For each of the Father’s children, wise choices flow from knowing the Father’s purpose for their lives and seeking to live out that purpose. Life is too precious to waste on petty, inconsequential, trivial pursuits.
A wise heart is “the prize of the one who knows his own limits because he is aware of the limits of human existence” (Westermann).
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more” (Mother Teresa).
The ironic outcome of looking out for your own interests without concern for long-term consequences, or incidentally, the best interest of others, is played out again and again in the Scriptures. What does not numbering our days nor acquiring a heart of wisdom look like?
15 Then Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.
17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’
18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.
19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”‘
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”