In Psalm 90 verse 12 we read, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. However, we can never be sure how many days we have on this earth, and there is no ‘normal’ time scale on the length of life, so how can we really number our days?
In my own studying of the Scriptures, when I come across a verse that I find difficult to grasp, I often read it in different translations. In the New Living Translation of the Bible this verse is translated as this – “Teach us to realise the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom”. The dictionary definition for the word Brevity is ‘shortness of time’ and it comes from the Latin word ‘Brevitas’ which means brief. We all like to think that we will live forever, but the Psalmist reminds us that this is not the case. In telling us to number our days he is reminding us that no matter how long we live, in the grand scheme of things, life is indeed short. It is out of realising that we won’t live on earth forever that we gain a heart of wisdom.
In my opinion to ‘number our days’ doesn’t mean to put an actual digit number on each day, for example at the time of writing these thoughts I have been alive for 12,270 days. I think it means to come to a realisation that one day life as we know it will end, so therefore preparations need to be made for when that day does come. So to number our days means to live each day as if it is our last, with inviting the Lord Jesus to be in the centre of everything we do.
One of my late Grandmothers favourite hymns contains these words:
Life at best is very brief,
Like the falling of a leaf,
Like the binding of a sheaf, Be in time!
Charles Harrison Mason, who wrote this hymn, knew what it meant to number his days. In the last verse he tells us exactly what we must do in order to number our days.
Sinner, heed the warning voice,
Make the Lord your final choice,
Then all heaven will rejoice, Be in time!
Come from darkness into light;
Come, let Jesus make you right;
Come, receive His life tonight, Be in time!