So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
Our days are numbered—we just don’t know the number for certain. Only the Giver of Life does. He has said, however, that an average expectation would be 70-80 years (Ps.90:10). Even so, Moses—the author of Psalm 90—states that the years will race by and all too quickly we “fly away.” A wise man is one who contemplates the brevity of life and the gravity of eternity. Now, Moses was exceptional—living to be 120—yet, he died. These words seem to carry an even greater weight when we realize they are spoken by such an “old-timer.” If he felt that life was too soon at an end, then how much more will we who in a few rare instances may make it to 100—though it may be that none who read these words will. Since our days have been counted already in the all-knowing mind of a Sovereign God, then we ought to make our days count for something worthy—that will stand the test of eternity.
Every generation needs to run to God for refuge (v.1). Mortal flesh can cast itself on the Eternal God. He has created all things—including us—for a purpose, and when we discover that, and pursue it, then we can fill our limited time with meaning (v.2). We can build a heritage of faith that will outlast our days on earth (v.16-17).
Death is coming for us all (v.3). That specter may lurk around the corner, ready to seize us with icy fingers before this day concludes. We are like broken branches in a river at flood stage, swept away by the current of time (v.4). We are like grass in the field, green and growing, then the Grim Reaper cuts us down with his scythe (v.5-6).
Death is all about us, for we live in a world under the curse of sin (v.7-11). Even the best of people have succumbed to iniquity—and the wages of sin is death (Rom.3:23; 6:23). We enter the world with a cry and we exit it with a sigh (v.9). How appropriate—for this life is full of burdens and sorrows (v.10).
This could lead us to deny reality—to fight against it with Botox, silicone, facelifts, tummy tucks, and all the rest. We can dye our hair and even replace it when it falls out, yet we are only fooling ourselves if we think that our deadline with death can be evaded. Such troubling thoughts may drive some to seek to fog the brain with drugs, alcohol, accumulating material possessions, and experiencing carnal pleasures lest they contemplate their end. That is folly—not wisdom!
The wise man embraces his mortality and sets his heart on preparing for eternity (v.12). The man of God (the title affixed to Moses in the superscription) and the woman of God, as well, is driven to seek God with urgency and find the compassion He offers (v.13). We will never know satisfaction in this life apart from Him—and the experience of His mercy (v.14a). The sooner we seek that the better off we are. God’s people are not immune from grief, but they find great reasons for gladness (v.14-15). Our brief sojourn on earth can be a testimony of God’s activity and redound to His glory (v.16). The work done for Him is of eternal significance and an enduring heritage (v.17).
Our days are numbered—let us make them count!