Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
This Psalm is unique in being the only one attributed to Moses, and as such is perhaps worthy of special attention. It is amusing that he famously speaks of human lifespan as 70 or 80 years (verse 10) when he himself lived to 120. It is particularly poignant to read that this morning, when the top news item is the passing of Queen Elizabeth at 96. All of that, including the news item, points up the importance of the prayer in this verse. None of us know how long we will live, and we will lack wisdom until we come to terms with our own mortality and choose to spend our days in right relationship to our Creator, from Whom we came and to Whom we return. I think that’s what it means when it says, “number our days,” since we don’t know how many we will have. Many parents try to shield their children from the reality of death, even avoiding having pets because most pets have short lifespans, and they don’t want their children to grieve. That is terribly misguided, because death is indeed part of life, and failure to recognize that leaves us foolish indeed. I once watched a video of someone talking to young people about HIV, I think it was, and he said, “No orgasm is worth your life.” Failure to recognize our mortality can cause us to take all sorts of stupid risks. The flip side of that is people who live in such fear of death that they never really live, focusing on avoiding all possible risks. Wisdom lies in recognizing not only our mortality but also where our life comes from in the first place, and living each day in obedient gratitude toward the One who gave it to us.
This is pointed for me because in two weeks I will have outlived my father by 10 years, since he died about a week after his 64th birthday. The news about Queen Elizabeth comes at a point when I have a friend with terminal cancer and an 85-year-old church member recently was running a high fever, and her son came by to discuss the eventuality of her passing. I have lost count of how many funerals I have conducted, and for how many people I was present at their passing. I am instantly recognized at the city crematorium! I have certainly learned the difference between the death of a believer and that of an unbeliever. For believers, I have conducted some genuinely joyful funerals! We get so tied up in physical life that we lose sight of the reality that 100 years, even, is essentially insignificant on the scale of eternity. I personally would not want to be stuck in this body for eternity! I am personally to rest, and revel in, the eternal life I have by grace through faith in Christ, and I am to use my days, however many I am given, to draw others to that life as well. As Jesus assured us, in this life we will have trouble, (John 16:33) but it is an opportunity to learn of God and His love for us, and choose to follow Jesus as Lord, with everything that means.
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for Your perfect timing for everything. Thank You that I have my first class today with a new group of nursing students. I pray that my every interaction with them would point them to Christ. They too will rub shoulders with death in the course of their careers. May they indeed learn to number their days aright and commit themselves to their Creator, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!