“Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
What does it mean to number our days? Is it to count how many days we’ve been alive? Or is it to guess how many days we have left? Neither actually. What the psalmist means is that we must consider how few our days really are in the long run, and live like each day may be our last. None of us knows when we will die. It could be today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now. No one knows but God himself. What we do know is that, even if we live a long life, the days we will spend on this earth are minuscule when compared with all the years of recorded history, let alone eternity. Our lives are fleeting. Our days on this earth are short, and every day they are running out.
Now, it’s tempting to be a little bit worried or scared by this thought. That’s natural. It’s in our nature to fear death and to avoid it. We try not to think about it, we try to stay healthy, we’ll spend huge amounts of money for doctors to save our lives. Death is something that most of us are not excited about, to say the least.
But the psalmist didn’t write this to make you feel doom or despair. These words were written to remind us how to live within our numbered days. The verse says that if we number our days, we will gain a heart of wisdom. The idea is that if you can truly comprehend how short life is, and put your daily actions into perspective, your priorities will change. If you found out you only had one day left to live, you’d spend it doing only the most important things. You wouldn’t waste your time scrolling through facebook or reading a boring magazine. You’d spend time with the people you love, you’d reconcile with those who you’ve wronged and those who have wronged you, you’d give away what you have, and hopefully you’d spend some of your short time telling people where you’re going. I hope that you would realize that you had only a very short time left to share the good news of Jesus. I hope that you would preach the gospel fearlessly because you know it’ll be over soon anyways.
It’s morbid, but it’s true! And that’s exactly what the psalmist is getting at. No, don’t go quit your job because you might die tomorrow and you don’t want to waste your last day at work. But maybe spend less of your time on meaningless things. Spend more time getting to know God and preparing yourself for eternity with him. Don’t waste any opportunity to share the gospel. These are the things that “numbering our days” produces. These are the things that a wise heart prioritizes.
I know that you are eternal and that to you, a hundred years is like the blink of an eye. I pray that you would help me see my days that way, to appreciate the short vapor that is my life and to make the very most of it for your kingdom. Help me to number my days and gain wisdom by it.
In Jesus’ Name,