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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

September 05 2023

Today, Tuesday September 05

“Teach Us to Number Our Days”

Psalm 90:3-12

“You turn man to destruction, And say, "Return, O children of men." For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night. You carry them away like a flood; They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers. For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

This is the oldest psalm in The Psalms, and it was prayer written by Moses, the man of God. It's possible that Moses wrote this psalm after Israel's failure of faith at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 13-14), when the nation was condemned to journey in the wilderness for forty years until the older generation had died. In this prayer Moses shares with us how he learned to deal with the difficult challenges of life. In verses 1-2, he reminds us that we are pilgrims traveling through this world and that God Himself is our eternal home.

In verses 3-12, his prayer teaches us that we should be learners and life Is our school. Moses was "educated in all the learning of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22), but the lessons he learned walking with God were far more important. In the school of life (v. 12), we need to learn two important lessons. First life is brief and passes swiftly (vv. 4-6), and so we should make the most of it. Secondly, that life is difficult and at times seems futile (vv. 7-11), but this is the only way to mature. Were there no sin in the world, there would be no suffering and death; but people made of dust defy the God of the universe and try to repeal the inexorable law of sin and death, "For dust you are, and to dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:19). While we all thank God for modern science and the ministry of skilled medical personnel, we cannot successfully deny the reality of death or delay it when our time comes. The school of life is preparation for an eternity with God, and without Him, we cannot learn our lessons, pass our tests, and make progress from kindergarten to graduate school!

The older we get, the better we understand that life is brief and moves past very swiftly. God dwells in eternity (Isa. 57:15) and is not limited by time. He can cram many years of experience and work into one person's lifetime or make the centuries flash past like the days of the week (2 Peter 3:8). Compared with eternity, even a long life is like yesterday when it is past or like the changing of the guards while we are sleeping (a "watch" was four hours). Only God is eternal, and we humans are like objects suddenly swept away by a flash flood (Matt. 7:24-27) or grass that comes and goes. In the east, the grass often grows on very thin soil and has no deep roots (Matt. 13:20-21). A field will be lush and green in the morning but become withered before nightfall because of the hot sun. God is the one whose command "turns us back" (v. 3), and we need to fear and honor Him and use our lives for His glory. In the school of life, those students learn the most who realize that the dismissal bell rings when they least expect it!

In verses 7-11, Moses reflected on Israel's sad experience at Kedesh Barnea (Num. 13-14), when the nation refused to obey God and enter the Promised Land. This foolish decision led to four decades of trials and testings in the wilderness while the older generation died off, except for Joshua and Caleb. God is "slow to anger" (Ex. 34:6), but the repeated complaints and rebellions of His people tested even His longsuffering. God saw what Israel did and God knew what Israel intended to do! No secrets are hidden from Him. The twenty-year-olds would be close to sixty when the nation returned to Kadesh Barnea, and Moses saw eighty years as the limit for humans. He died at 120 and Joshua at 110, but King David was only 70 when he died.

Sin takes its toll on the human race, and we no longer see lifespans recorded like those in Genesis 5. We don't like to think about the wrath of God, but every obituary in the newspaper is a reminder that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). We finish our years "like a sigh" (v. 9) and marvel that it all went by so fast! So, now is the time to ask God for wisdom to become better students and stewards of our time and opportunities (v. 12; Deut. 32:29).

We number our years, not our days, but all of us have to live a day at a time, and we do not know how many days we have left. A successful life is composed of successful days that honor the Lord. “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom”.

God bless!

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