(By Diego Cuartas)
How do we gain wisdom? I suspect there are several answers to this question. A few weeks back I came across Psalm 90:12, and there was something sobering about the message found in this verse. In this Psalm, Moses prayed: "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."
In reading the rest of the chapter, I found more insights as to why Moses would request such a thing from God. I invite you to explore what are the ways we can gain a heart of wisdom. As we will see, perhaps there is more to it than "numbering our days".
A look at the Psalm.
- God is recognized as the "dwelling place in all generations" (ver 1)
- He is also recognized as the everlasting God who existed before everything was even created (v 2)
- God holds the power and right to terminate the physical existence of man by calling him back to "dust" (v 3)
- For God, time is different than the way we experience it. One thousand years for Him are like a day or a watch in the night (v 4)
- The language that describes our fragile existence on earth is depicted by phrases like "swept away", "like a dream", "flourishing and withering like the grass" and ultimately "brought to an end like a sigh" (v 5-7, 9)
- Our iniquities and sins are present before God; they are not a secret to Him (v 8)
- In this Psalm, life-span was considered to be between 70-80 years, the latter being by reason of strength. These years of existence are characterized by "toil and trouble" (ver 10)
- We can see that the question raised in verse 11 is very revealing: "Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?" The question reveals the innate inability of man to consider God's power and judgments over our lives.
- This is another reason why we are exhorted to learn to number our days: for the purpose of gaining a heart of wisdom (verse 12)
In other words, to live our lives unaware of both our fragile existence and God's supremacy over man it is to live out of a foolish heart, not a wise one.
When we recognize our fragile condition and God's everlasting nature, we then will be more inclined to:
1. Call for His mercy (or pity)
2. Ask Him to satisfy us with His steadfast love
3. Request the restoration of our gladness
4. Pray that God will reveal His "works" to us and His "glorious power" to our children
5. Ask that His favor be "upon us"
6. Petition that He "establishes the work of our hands upon us"
What an insightful Psalm this is. We are given perspective for life here! The wisdom our hearts can gain as a result of "numbering our days" deals with the most significant needs we have as humans. We need mercy, steadfast love, gladness, the revelation of God for us and the next generation, His favor and a purposeful life. I can't imagine possessing these things and lacking hope and enthusiasm for each new day!
How then can we number our days? From this passage, we can see that two things are essential. One, we need to regard our humanness as fragile and short. This should affect the way I think about today and the future. My experience of today and my plans for tomorrow need to be considered and embraced with humility and dependence on God. Two, we need to consider the fact that God is present in an everlasting way and has the power and freedom to accomplish His own will, in His ways, in His time. He also has knowledge of our situations, sufferings and sins. And He holds the prerogative to judge and deal with each person according to who He is and what He values.
Is numbering our days enough? I don't think so. What we are being exhorted to do, through this prayer, is to number our days in light of God and who He is. To just number our days will miss our origin, our source of strength, our faithful, merciful and loving Father and our real purpose in life.
Hopefully as we do this we will gain a "heart of wisdom" accompanied with the gladness of being part of something bigger than ourselves: a glorious God!
This is your day; what is God doing? How are you living in light of Him?