Teach Me to Number in Order to Be Wise!

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. "

(Ps. 90:12).

Dear Children,

It is possible, and actually it happens all the time, that while I sit or stand still, I may be moving with great speed. While I write these words, I am sitting on the earth which is spinning around its axis at about 600 miles a hour. Even faster is the speed with which we travel around the sun: about 10,000 miles per hour.

Yet, that isn’t as fast as the speed with which we travel to eternity. Each moment is a step closer to our eternal destination. Dear children, if a moment is a step closer, than a whole year is giant leap!

Take a moment to ask yourself, "Was the giant leap of the past school year forward or backward?" "Of course," you answer, "it was forward. I am older now; I have gone on to the next grade; I learned a lot of new things; I am taller than a year ago."

I agree, in that way each year may be a leap forward. But was it also a leap forward for your soul? Many times the Lord has spoken to you when the Bible was explained or when you read it for yourself. Did that make your heart softer or harder? Did that bring you to conversion? Did it make you more serious-minded toward God? Did the Lord Jesus become your Savior?

Again, I ask, were all the past years of your young life leaps forward for your soul? Truly, that’s what really matters. It is good to be diligent. It is wonderful to pass on to the next grade. It is nice when you grow bigger and stronger. But if in the mean time your soul has gotten harder and more guilty, then have you really gained?

Moses was quite old when he wrote Psalm 90. Most Bible teachers believe Moses was near to his death when he wrote this. He became 120 years old. That means he may have lived for 43,000 days when he wrote, "Lord, so teach me to number my days." Isn’t it surprising that he still needs to pray that the Lord teach him how to number his days aright? Of course, Moses knew how to count. No, he isn’t asking the Lord to simply teach him to count, but he prays that the Lord would teach him and his people to count in the right way. Notice the little and oft-forgotten word "so" at the beginning of this prayer.

So ... that means, "Lord, teach me to number my days, each one of the days, so I may live, in the right way." In what way did he mean this? Well, every day Moses saw people die among the 2 million Israelites in the desert. There must have been many funerals in the camp every day. Yet Moses noticed something shocking. The people are getting used to the fact that people are dying. It doesn’t really impress them that it is because of the "power of God’ s anger" that people die. In other words, the people are getting harder. Instead of making a leap forward they are making a leap backward. Moses must have felt something of it too, because he includes himself in this petition.

Don’t you think we need to ask the Lord to "so teach us to number our days" that instead of wasting our time, we use it well.

But when do we "use our days well?" When you make lots of money? When you have great fun? When you get many things done? No, only when we "apply our hearts to wisdom." In other words, when we become really wise. To be wise is something different than knowing many things. Sometimes the smartest people (that know much) aren’t wise at all. Once I talked to a very smart scientist who knew a great deal about physics. When I asked him whether he ever felt through all his studies that there must be a God in heaven, he answered, "Absolutely. Often do we come to impossibilities that can only be explained with ’God did it all.’" But though he knew very much, he wasn’t very wise, because he answered my question whether he sought to know this God and serve him with, "That’s a waste of time!" What a pitiful and foolish man he was! Isn’t that, however, like we all are by nature?

Moses desired God to teach him so to use his days that his heart would come to wisdom. Now, in closing, let’s together seek to answer the question, "what is wisdom?" I ask you to think and pray about each one of these short lessons.

1st. Wisdom is to realize that life is very short, far shorter than you expect it to be.

2nd. Wisdom is to remember that time is precious. Each day is a special gift God gives us to glorify Him and to seek His grace. Each day past is one less of the number God set for us.

3rd. Wisdom’s beginning is the fear (high regard) of God. When this deep esteem of God and His Word fills our hearts, it will lead our hearts to wisdom.

4th. Wisdom is to be thoroughly convinced that "having all things we still have but ’things.’"

5th. Wisdom is to know that in God’s sight we are but "poor, wretched, miserable, and needy creatures," in spite of being rich, successful, beautiful, popular, or talented.

6th. Wisdom is to be convinced that we can’t please God with anything we can bring forth, for even our best works are in His sight stained with sin. Wisdom is to realize that we can never make ourselves acceptable in His holy sight.

7th. Wisdom is to know that we need the Lord Jesus Christ to be our only and complete Savior and therefore we "seek Him early, earnestly, and only."

8th. Wisdom is to seek Him where and when He can be found. To place or bring ourselves in the places or to read books where His Holy Spirit doesn’t blow, is to hinder our own salvation. How wise are such who place themselves there where the Holy Spirit commonly blows with His saving power.

9th. Wisdom is to avoid what distracts the heart from God and His service or what deadens our spirit to even seek Him.

10th. Wisdom is to make and to take the time to seek Him even though we are super busy. That is especially true when we realize that what God’s Word says, "Behold, the Judge standeth before the door." I wish we all would "so" learn to count our days so that we all would become "so" wise.

By Rev. Vergunst, Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Kalamazoo, Michigan.