MY REFLECTION ON PSALM 90:12. SO TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS
salm 90 is usually identified as the Psalm of Moses. Moses started this Psalm with a profound view of God's omnipotence and His power in providing a place of refuge for him. "Lord you have been our dwelling place in all generations". It is significant that Moses did not say that God provided a dwelling place. He says that God Himself is the dwelling place, which is an astounding claim. It reminds us of Psalm 91:1. "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadows of the Almighty". Dwelling in God guarantees our protection.
In Verse 2 Moses took a panoramic view of how God has existed before the mountains were formed, and even before the earth and the world were created and ended on the second verse with a breathtaking affirmation of God, "from everlasting to everlasting You are God" In short saying God is eternal, immutable and unchanging. God's nature is permanent.
In Verse 4 Moses talks about how Time is endless with God "a thousand years in God's sight are like one day". With God time flies, it goes so quick, so fast that at times we do not notice. Moses then talks about how nurturing, God is. God tends us, God looks after us, nonetheless before Him we are all like grass which grows up and flourishes in the morning. But unfortunately in the evening when it is cut down, it withers and dies. Moses says our lives are like that. Here today gone tomorrow. Our lives are not permanent!!!!!!
Moses then swung to Verse 10 where He further contrasts the permanence of God with the impermanence of our own lives. He reminds us that our life is transient with limited life span. He says the days of our lives are 70 years and if by reason of strength they are 80 years, which however are soon cut off and we fly away. Just a small reminder there that nobody lives forever.
Then in verse 12, Moses, because of all these, prayed a significant, deep, intense and outstanding prayer "So Teach Us To Number Our Days That We may Gain a Heart of Wisdom". Note the collective word there "US". Moses did not just pray for himself, he prays for All Peoples. However I always wondered where Moses description of God, his affirmation of God and that sharp summary of God came from. Obviously it must have come from his deep and personal knowledge of God. Moses is described as a Prophet whom "God knew face to face" (Deut. 34: 10). The Bible also says that the Lord would speak to Moses as one speaks to a Friend (Exodus 33:11). Obviously Moses relationship with God was Intimate, Up Close and Personal, which means that Moses days were God Filled and God Centered.
Moses expression "Number Our Days" caught my attention. I then began to reflect on what Moses meant exactly by this numbering of days, what would be the dynamics of numbering of days and also the implication from Moses perspectives. Does it mean merely taking note of our days, like keeping a diary? When we human beings number our days we do the chronological thing, counting and recounting our achievements in days, months and years. We say things like, I was born in year so and so, started school five years later, finished school in year so and so, went to college the same year, got my first job in year so and so, fell in love on day so and so, got married in year so and so, had a baby on day so and so, had another one the following year, bought my first car in year so and so, followed by my first home a month after etc etc etc.
There is nothing wrong with taking note of our life's achievements. It gives us the opportunity to thank God and praise Him and show appreciation for the blessings that have come our way. However Moses prayer was not that God teach us to NUMBER our "months and years" but to number our "DAYS". If "numbering of days" is as easy as keeping a diary of life's event which many people routinely do, I don't think Moses would need to pray about that. But I believe Moses had something else in mind. Moses was thinking more about "DAILY" account and our accountability to God in our DAILY interaction with God.
If Moses were to "number his days" he would talk about being pulled from a stream as a baby in a basket, being raised as a privileged prince in the court of Pharaoh. He would talk about his escape from Egypt and finding himself a worker in the house of Jethro, and marrying Jethro's daughter. Moses would talk about his call by God from the Burning Bush, his 40 days experience with God on the Mount without food and water, his collecting from God what has become the blue print for God's children, The Ten Commandments. Moses would also talk about God's command that he returns to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh. He would talk about the plagues that God unleashed on Egypt that led to their release by the hard-hearted Pharaoh.
He would certainly talk about the great phenomenon, the parting of the Red Sea and the part he played in it. He would add to it the 40 years journey in the wilderness, how God fed them with manna and even how the people's clothes were not torn, their feet not swollen and their shoes not worn (Deut. 8:4). Moses would even talk about his experience with these hard-headed people that left him frustrated to the point that he disobeyed God's simple instruction at Meribah, and God's anger with him which led to God's decision that he would not enter into the Promised Land. As an aside to get the full story of Moses life, I suggest you watch the movie: The Prince of Egypt or The Ten Commandments which I actually prefer. It is quite interesting. It captures the long life of Moses.
We can see how Moses's life led from one thing, to another and another and another all towards one overall goal, to achieve some purpose, God's purpose for Moses and also for His people. The key aspect of Moses numbering of his days was that DAILY, Moses walked with God, in a "pillar of cloud" by day and a "pillar of fire" by night. Moses delighted in God's presence DAILY to the point that he told God that he would not go anywhere if God's Presence did not go with him (Exodus 13:15). On a DAILY basis, Moses consulted with God and submitted at every turn to God's plan and intention. He agreed to God's purpose and in wisdom he changed course whenever he was asked to. Moses lived his days for God. He responded to God's agenda. Of course Moses made some mistakes, like all of us he was human. He had a very tough task, he knew it and so he stayed close to God on a DAILY basis to acquire a heart of wisdom to do the job. Moses was able to achieve all that he did in his 120 years of existence because he DAILY numbered and monitored his days with God's benchmark. His DAILY reflection, DAILY consultation with God and DAILY evaluation of events helped him to stay on course till the end.
I believe that for all these God rewarded Moses with a very long life and good health, to the point that his eyes were not dim and his bones were not weak as the bible says. (Deut. 34:7). The Bible also said that when Moses died God buried him in a place that up till today no one knows where his grave is, not even the modern archeologists. What a significant end to a significant life of relationship with God!!!. Overall, Moses did not undermine the challenges of each day of his long life; neither did he take his relationship with God for granted. Moses established a solid relationship with God because he knew that "numbering of days" would NOT be easy for anyone and so God's help would be needed. Hence to receive God's help DAILY Moses devised that prayer: "Teach Us To Number Our Days".
I believe that the significance of "numbering of our days", as the Bible tells us, is that God DAILY loads us with benefits (Psalm 68:19). DAILY, we receive goodness from Him. DAILY we receive provision from Him. In addition Jesus, God's son DAILY carries our burdens. For all these, the expectation is that we should be accountable to God on a DAILY basis. So I thought to myself what would numbering our days mean for all of us, for me, for you, and for everybody? It is bad enough numbering our years in birthdays. It is a tedious task. At times we forget. We forget friends' birthdays, parents' birthdays, children's birthdays, couples at times forget each other's birthdays, siblings too forget. Monitoring each day of our lives is therefore a greater challenge. However I believe that in numbering our days there are four questions that we all need to ask ourselves at the end of each day.
Has today been Meaningful? Not just for us, but for the people around us, for humanity and above all to God.
Has today been Fulfilling? Does each day satisfy some predetermined requirement? What are the set goals for our lives? What do we want to achieve? At the end of each day we want to ask ourselves if we have inched closer to the fulfillment of those set goals.
Has today been Worthwhile? Has each day been worth the effort, worth the time and worthy of God's attention? Does each day have a merit of its own?
Has today been Purposeful? We are required to live each day for God, so that our life has a purpose in Christ who has shown us what it means to be part of His Body. Purpose is something that one intends to get, do or plan. How do we know this purpose? It is by walking with God on a DAILY basis to know, to understand and to fulfill that purpose. Asking ourselves these questions DAILY may help us to stay focused.
Moses, prayer was more than "Lord, teach me to number my days" he adds "That I May Gain A Heart Of Wisdom". Wisdom is not some advanced form of knowledge or learning. It simply means skills of living. It is commonsense, it is understanding the way of the world. It is not what one knows intellectually, but what one does practically with what one knows. It is Truth Applied. James 3:15 tells us that Wisdom comes from God therefore Wisdom is divine. It is knowing how God works. We all need Wisdom that comes from God to navigate our lives DAILY. We need Wisdom to promote God's agenda for us and for all His creation. We need Wisdom to move us from one point of our lives to the next, so that we can be who we need to be in Christ Jesus.
A heart of Wisdom is not a condition. It is a process. We are expected to reflect on the unique opportunities that have been granted to us DAILY and how we have made use of them. We are not required to be perfect but we are required to DAILY make the effort, to DAILY make amends as we go on, to improve each day. If we do not achieve what we set out to do one day, we should restructure the next day and look for ways where we can improve.
The overall GOAL is to live a profound life for God and to live it in consonance with His will in our lives DAILY. I like the chorus of a favorite song that captures the essence of our numbering our days "One day at a time Sweet Jesus that's all I am asking from you, just give me the strength to do every day what I have to do. Yesterday's gone Sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine, Lord help me today, show me the way, one day at a time". So for all of us knowing fully well that we cannot do this by our individual strength and that we need help from above with the attending "Wisdom", let us each follow in Moses footsteps, by praying Moses prayer DAILY, making it our DAILY supplication, "Lord Teach Me To Number My Days That I May Gain A Heart Of Wisdom". Amen.