Your days are numbered… While scrolling through the grab bag of rambling, rant and regurgitation that is Facebook, I came across a Bible verse that caught my eye. Perhaps it was a bit more graphically interesting than the prettied-up Scripture memes in my feed. Or maybe it sounded like it came straight from a gangster movie.
So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Whenever I hear about days being numbered, it’s never in a good context. We associate it with dying at worst and disaster at best. But perhaps, like Vizzini’s “Inconceivable!” in the Princess Bride, this word does not mean what we think it means.
The Hebrew for “number” in this context means to appoint, count, or prepare. For example, I buy one gallon of milk a week. Experience says that that is what my family will consume. If I buy too much, it will spoil. If I buy too little, I will be annoyed when I pour my cereal and there’s no milk. I have learned to “number” our gallons – I prepare for their purchase, I appoint their use.
We can look at Psalm 90:12 in the same way. It is saying that we should be prepared for what is to come, and because we have a limited time here on earth, we should use it well, for eternal purposes.
But what about the second half of the verse? All this talk about being purposeful with our days would have led me to a different conclusion than the one the Psalmist comes up with. If you had asked me to finish the sentence, it might have looked like this:
Teach us to number our days… so we can get a lot done for God.
Teach us to number our days… so we will not mess up.
Teach us to number our days… so we can save a whole bunch of people for Jesus.
Nope. There’s no behavioral cause-and-effect in this verse. There are no promises of glory, guarantees of righteousness, or physical rewards. There’s only wisdom at the end of this number tunnel.
Why is wisdom the end result? If I look at my own journey over the past few years, it’s been one of ruthlessly pursuing God’s definition of purpose. I have come to understand that a well-lived life is not measured by accomplishment but by a willingness to pursue God at all costs. I have been numbering my days, i.e. trying to wrap my mind around what God says about my life, and the result has been an increase in understanding of who He is, who I am, and how He sees me. In other words, I have gained wisdom.
Seems like a fitting reminder, here at the beginning of a shiny new year full of promise. May we number our days in 2017.
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