Numbering Our Days
10 "As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away. 11 Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? 12 So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:10-12 NASB
Time is such a complex concept, so much so that the fact that God exists outside of the parameters of time can be somewhat difficult to grasp. However, if there is one thing about time that we can be certain of, it’s that it does not stop for anyone, meaning its continuity is independent of our circumstances. Jobs may be lost, loved ones may pass away, global tragedies may occur, and yet, time will still continue on. This is why time management is such a prized and coveted skill, both for work and life. The individual who knows how to maximize their time well can be successful in anything! Furthermore, it is wisdom that teaches us how to manage our time effectively, to make the most of the time we have!
Here in Psalm 90, Moses, one of the most notable men of the Old Testament, asks the Lord to teach him this very thing in the latter verses! In this Psalm, also known as the "Prayer of Moses the man of God", Moses is laboring in intercession on behalf of the wicked and rebellious people of Israel whose faithless grumbling incites God to enact a fatal sentence upon them (cf. Psalm 90:13-14). In Numbers 14:26-35, God declares that every Israelite who is 20 years of age and older, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, will die in the wilderness while wandering in the wilderness for a total of 40 years. This was God's righteous judgment upon the Israelite population for choosing to believe the faithless report of the 10 spies who were sent to spy out the Promised Land of Canaan instead of believing the faith-filled report of Caleb and Joshua, the only two faithful spies! Their children would also spend a total of forty years wandering in the desert along with them, but unlike their parents, these children would be allowed to enter into the Promised Land!
It is in God's sentence of death upon the elder generation of the nation of Israel that we see a sharp contrast between the infinite nature of God and the brevity of mortal human life due to sin (cf. Psalm 90:1-6). Moreover, it is disobedience that incurs divine judgement, for the divine wrath & anger that the nation of Israel experienced was a direct result of their continuous rebellion against God! In light of this revelation, Moses declares that the days of our lives are seventy years, or eighty years due to vigor & strength, which is consistent with the average human life span of 78.7 years (“FastStats - Life Expectancy", 2020). While living seventy plus years is deservingly praised among us as human beings, Moses reminds us that our days in light of God's eternalness are few and fleeting ("As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.") As a result, Moses likens himself to a student and pleads with the Lord saying, "Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom."
Moses realizes that in light of the frailty of mankind, God's infinite nature best qualifies Him to teach His people how to make the most of their remaining days on the Earth! And truly what better person is there to show us how to make the most of our time than God? Unlike other deities, God is eternal, so although we live in a finite world, He can teach us how to live and operate with an eternal perspective here on the Earth! In Psalm 139:16, David declares that "Every day of my life was recorded in Your book." Because God knows the exact length of each of our lives, it would behoove us to seek Him for wisdom on how to best invest, manage, and spend our time! If there is anything we can learn from the elder generation of Israelites, it's that time spent in rebellion against God incurs very costly circumstances! For forty years, the elder generation wandered in the wilderness until each one of them died. What an unfortunate waste of time and opportunity on their part to possess and dwell richly in the promises of God!
By numbering our days, we designate each day as a day of purpose, no matter what the day itself brings, understanding that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (cf. Romans 8:28)! By numbering our days, we understand and recognize that our very lives are extremely precious yet also short, and would be best spent walking in obedience to the will of God as opposed to disobedience! By making the most of our days according to God's directives, we can ultimately present back to Him the fruit of the application of His precepts: hearts both full of and transformed by wisdom! God, grant us the supernatural wisdom to manage our time, to find the time to both work and rest, to discern and choose the right opportunities to seize, and to glorify You and Your purposes!
FastStats - Life Expectancy. (2020, October 30). Retrieved November 08, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/life-expectancy.htm