In April last year, I wrote a blog which I called COVID-19 & (Christian) students. In it, I shared my thoughts on studying during the pandemic. One verse I used was Psalm 90: 12 which says: “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Despite writing something about this verse more than a year ago, it continues to be on my mind constantly. Maybe it is because I love Math and the verse tells us to number our days. Alas, that is not what the verse calls us to. The numeration of days is not something that we need divine lessons for. We have calendars and calculators for that. Even I know that there are 30 days in September and 365.25 days in a year. So why do we need a divine being to teach us to number our days? What calculator do the divine have that we don’t?
If I live my entire life in the Netherlands, I can expect to reach 80 years (the life expectancy being 81.81 years). With this estimation, I have at least 50 more years to live. However, as I shared in another blog about the reality of death (my favourite blog from last year), “one thing is evident and we all know this – it’s not a mystery: life is short and tomorrow is never promised.” The 50 years to come are not guaranteed regardless of what country I reside in and the healthcare I receive. Not even tomorrow is guaranteed because the breath I am taking now may well be my last. Psalm 90:12 is a call for us to see the brevity of life.
So teach us to number our days O Lord, that we may see the brevity of life.
Oh no, there is so much more to the verse than simply “life is short.” The verse also reminds us of the weakness of human life. The preceding verses put it more plainly. Particularly verses 5 and 6 which say “You bring our lives to an end just like a dream. We are merely tender grass that sprouts and grow in the morning, but dries up by evening.” Our lives are not only short; they are also frail.
So teach us to number our days O Lord, that we may learn to depend on you because we are weak and frail beings.
As though being short and frail was not bad enough, these short lives of ours are also filled with trouble and sorrow. “We can expect seventy years, or maybe eighty, if we are healthy, but even our best years bring trouble and sorrow. Suddenly our time is up, and we disappear” – Psalm 90: 10. Need I write anything about the trouble and sorrow of this world? The trouble and sorrow that bombard us each working moment? Maybe that should be a theme for another blog.
So teach us to number our days O Lord, that we may remember the trouble and sorrow that are ever before us.
We all reach a point in life when time seems to be flying. Of course this often leads us to realise that life is indeed short. However, especially for young people, this realisation encourages behaviours of living for the present. Although not always, this behaviour may also involve giving in to urges that lead to sin. Lord, teach us to number our days that we may remember that “you know all of our sins, even those we do in secret” – Psalm 90:8. Dear young person, my friend, numbering our days is living each day knowing that despite our lives been short, the actions and sin we commit today have eternal consequences. May we never sin in the name of enjoying life or simply being young.
So teach us to number our days O Lord, that we may always remember that you know our sins, even the ones we commit in secrecy.
Teach us to number our days O Lord that we may realise that life is short, that we are weak and frail beings, that our lives are filled with trouble and sorrow and that our actions in this brief life have eternal consequences. But there is more! Teach us to number our days so that we can sing “Our Lord, in all generations you have been our home. You have always been God—long before the birth of the mountains, even before you created the earth and the world” – Psalm 90: 1-2. As we realise how short and frail our lives are, may we remember that in all generations you have been our home. When trouble and sorrow come knocking, may we run to you because you have been our home for generations Lord. When we are tempted to give in to sin in the name of enjoying this short life we have, “let your love satisfy all our needs” – Psalm 90:14a. And for every day of our lives, cause us to “…celebrate and be glad for what time we have left” – Psalm 90:14b.
Teach us to number our days O Lord that we may gain a heart of wisdom.