As tempting as it is to come up with ten New Year’s Resolutions, I thought better of it, and I decided to consider Psalm 90:12 instead. Maybe I can come up with ten things to learn from this short verse.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (KJV).
Or in the NKJV: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
1. Apparently we must be taught to number our days, because otherwise we naively think we have an unlimited supply. The calendars just keep whizzing by, year after year, and we think nothing of it. But God has put a lesson on the board, and we are to learn it.
2. It is also clear from this prayer that the psalmist assumes God is the only suitable teacher for this material. No one else is capable because no one else understands it. We just don’t get it. We need the Holy Spirit to do His work so we will learn this important, central, vital lesson. In other words, this is a big deal, not a minor detail.
3. The end of this teaching is wisdom. We don’t learn to count down how many days we have left on this earth so that we can party to the end. We are looking for wisdom here. Wisdom is what we want and obviously need, and it doesn’t just grow on trees. We must be taught. That means sitting down at our desk and licking our pencil.
4. If we really get this lesson, if we learn that time is a gift to us with limitations, it will result in wisdom. Wisdom is when we come to the application part of the sermon. Wisdom results in doing something.
5. When we consider that our end is nearer than we thought, this steadies us up a bit and puts life in perspective. It gives us a healthy sense of urgency. How important is it that you continue this fuss with your sister, for example? Wisdom helps you get it right and cover it with love and forget about it. Now. Not tomorrow.
6. This knowledge also results in gratitude. We are more thankful for each day when we understand our life is a mist. How many more times will you sit down at the table with your family? How many mornings will you wake up to see the sun? How many more times will you get to sit in church and hear a sermon and sing the “Doxology”? Ten times? Two times? One hundred times? Wisdom makes each one count.
7. If I see that the gas gauge of days left for me is under the halfway mark, maybe even under the quarter mark (and there’s no filling it back up again), I’m not tempted to spend my time dragging Main Street, wasting my resources. I consider my ways. This is walking by faith.
8. When I think my days have a stop mark, I might start to get my house in order. What kind of legacy am I leaving behind? If you knew you only had ten days left, what kind of things would you take care of? Are there bills unpaid, apologies to be made, letters unanswered, things unsaid that need to be said, forgiveness to be sought or extended? Numbering our days makes us rush to get these things done. It’s a good kind of pressure.
9. Numbering our days makes us count our blessings, which far outnumber our days no matter how many we have. This goes back to #6. Today is my anniversary. How many blessings have resulted from my marriage to this man of mine? An infinite number that only God can count. Blessing upon blessing. And how many blessings did I receive from my parents? Innumerable. And my children? Can’t count that high. And the grandkids? Now that’s impossible. All I can do is thank God for the mounting pile of blessings that He has poured out and continues to pour out on my head.
10. Finally, none of this is meant to make us morbid. God wouldn’t want us to learn to number our days if it would make us fearful or negative. If it does, then we haven’t learned it correctly. When God teaches us to number our days, we are wise, not frantic. Wisdom is a glorious thing. It is peaceful. Therefore, we should get wisdom.
The New Year is a great moment to begin learning how to count down with joy the days that are left to us. Then we can gratefully fill each remaining one with faith in our good God. He has planned good works for us to walk in, so we had better keep our eye on our opportunities and apply our hearts to wisdom.
And of course: Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!