So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Too often, I have not followed biblical instruction. I understand the eternal essence and existence of God and I thank God for creating me. Unfortunately, I try to take over my life and use it for myself rather than the glory of God. I think I’m not the only one in the boat. I call it the “Epicurean spirit of the age.” Self-interest prevails while the spiritual nature of life becomes a utilitarian tool. Oh, there is plenty of interest in religious talk, especially from the pious few. Many people call themselves morally upright, but they interpret the moral code to fit their own personal agenda.
The Bible in general and this Psalm particularly says something different. This Psalm is not merely about how many days God has given you. It is about understanding life. It is about understanding reality. One of the ugly marks of sin is imperfect understanding, which is misunderstanding. Another ugly mark of sin is laziness. When you combine misunderstanding with laziness, the result is a notorious distortion of reality. Now to unscramble all this and re-state it; we don’t like to work to understand life. We tend to base our understanding of life on what we experience, rather than searching for what is really real. A wise resolution is to seek an understanding of life based on the Word of God.
The Psalmist said, “Teach us to number our days.” It does not mean that God wants us to count the days of this temporal life. It is not a question of whether our days are numbered; it is a question of understanding life for the number of days we live. It all starts with the Lord; “In the beginning God.” Our dwelling place here is temporary, but God is eternal. God is the eternal King. We are mere humans and subjects of the eternal King. God is unchangeable; we are always changing. What is man compared to God? The Bible is not ambiguous. “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
The question I ask is not from arrogance, but sincerity. Why do professing Christians treat life so lightly? I believe there are several reasons for the disrespect for life in this present age. The abandonment of a final and ultimate authority is probably on the top of the list. From family life, employment, and even ball games, there must be a final authority. The final and ultimate authority for life is God. God’s people have the privilege of understanding the ultimate, perfect, and just authority, because God has made it available in the Word of God. With the abandonment of a final authority, comes the floodgate of privatized Christianity. Everyone has his or her own private creed, beliefs, and understanding of life. Somewhere along the way Christians forget, or were never taught, to “Hold fast the pattern of sound words…” (2 Timothy 1:13). It means to have an outline of healthy words and healthy words are found in the Word of God. Healthy words are sound words and they are the foundation for sound doctrine. Unfortunately, the experiences of life and ungodly passions lead to words of confusion and words of strife rather than sound words. The result is forgotten sound doctrine.
How may you discern your destiny? If you gain a heart of wisdom you may discern your destiny. However, time is necessary to acquire wisdom. Time must be spent inquiring into the wealth of God’s truth. Also spend time inquiring into natural science – philosophy – literature – political theory – and every other discipline that it needed to serve God in this life. A wise reckoning of time is necessary to allow opportunities to develop from the knowledge that God gives you.
Are you willing to pray the same prayer that Moses prayed: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The challenge to every person is to number your days as if you are about to begin something new.
Pray and ask God to teach you to number your days, with a sense of integrity, understanding that life on earth is brief. For that reason, it is measured by days. If you understand the brevity of this life, we will better understand eternal life.
*Martin Murphy has a B.A. in Bible from Columbia International University and Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary. Martin spent nearly thirty years in the class room, the pulpit, the lectern, the study, and the library. He now devotes most of his time consolidating academic and practical gains by writing books. He and his wife Mary live in Dothan, Alabama. He is the author of twelve books relative to Christian doctrine.