Our six-year-old grandsons, Roy and Miles, are studying math in their Kindergarten classes this year. And they’re excited about their new found skills.
They’re learning to count everything. Puppets. Toys. Bears. Cars. People. And money. They’re doing addition and subtraction.
One day we picked up Miles from school and he proudly announced he knew the answer to 100-90. We, then, offered him some other “difficult” math problems which he enjoyed solving.
However, one thing Miles and Roy can’t do yet, is “number their days.” Oh, they can count the days of the week on a calendar, but not in the same way Moses admonished in Psalm 90:12.
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
This exhortation goes beyond the sheer, literally counting of days. You can count the days you’ve been alive. Today, I’ve been alive for 26,603 days. But Moses is reminding us to understand something far greater. Something deeper. Something infinitely more important.
#1 Our days are indeed numbered. When my Mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma she remarked, “Well, we’re not put on this earth to live forever.”
Relative to eternity our life is short. The Bible uses expressions to remind us that life is not endless. It is fleeting. And transitory.
- “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6).
- “Our days on earth are as a shadow” (Job 8:9).
- “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14).
- “My days…wither away like grass”(Ps 102:11).
#2 This Truth must be taught. Just like Roy and Miles are learning their numbers, we must be taught “to number our days.”
While it would seem that causal observation ought to alert us to life’s brevity, apparently it’s something we must learn. Not only do the above metaphors teach us about life’s transience, but we’re often reminded not to take our days for granted. Moses’ message is clear throughout Psalm 90.
Solomon counseled, “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1).
James also advised us not to make our plans apart from God’s will. Travel and business plans can change in an instant because we “do not know what tomorrow will bring.” “What is your life,” he asks. The sobering answer? “A mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jas. 4:13-16).
#3 Our days ought to be lived with wisdom. The realization that our life will one day end should prompt us to value each day. To count it as a gift from God. A blessing to be appreciated. A day to rejoice. An opportunity to be exercised for good. A time to use it for God’s glory and purpose.
Like the snowflakes, no two days are exactly the same. Each day offers its own unique sunshine and rain. Happiness and sorrow. Work and play. Smiles and tears. Healing and hurt. Planting and reaping. Gaining and losing. War and peace. Life and….death. (Read Eccl. 3:1-8).
This understanding motivates us to seriously heed the divine admonition: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17).
Numbering our days, therefore, ought to result in closer communion with God through prayer, Bible study, and worship. An appreciation of fellowship with His people. A deeper desire to walk in the footsteps of Jesus’ example. A greater incentive to serve the needs of others. And joyfully sharing our faith.
Finally, in the words of Ken Thomas, “Let those who thoughtfully consider the brevity of life remember the length of eternity.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman