“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10-12).
John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. How often do we find ourselves concentrating on the future and not taking time to consider the present?
As the opening verses above show, in Psalm 90, Moses, the great man of God, speaks about the importance of our taking stock regarding the brevity of our lives. This psalm appears to have been written by Moses during the time of the 40 year wilderness sojourn of the children of Israel. Moses mentions God’s anger being directed against the children of Israel and His affliction of them because of their sins (Psalm 90:7-9, 13-17). Historically this happened following the children of Israel listening to and heeding the bad report of the evil spies regarding the Promised Land (Numbers 13:26-14:10). As a result, God was wrath was aroused and His judgment was to have them wander in the wilderness for 40 years (Number 14:20-35). I have tremendous admiration for Moses because he led God’s rebellious people during these 40 years knowing that they would not enter the Promised Land. His unselfish leadership was essential to preparing the next generation of God’s people to enter the land God had given to them as an inheritance. I look forward to seeing Moses in heaven even though he may not look like Charleston Heston.
As he is leading God’s people, Moses does not look far ahead to the future. Instead, he takes time to live in the moment. Rather than longing for a time when the Promised Land would be the dwelling place of God’s people, Moses takes time to remember that God currently is, and always will be, their dwelling place: “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:1-2). Moses recalls how God had patiently worked with His people to encourage them to follow Him. The Israelites had spent much of their years wasting away in rebellion against God: “You turn man to destruction, and say, ‘Return, O children of men.’ For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night. You carry them away like a flood; they are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers” (Psalm 90:3-6). Moses mentions life is too short, 70 or 80 years typically (Psalm 90:10), to have us spend it longing for what tomorrow may hold. It is wise for God’s people to live focusing on serving the Lord today and trusting in His ability to lead His people to whatever dwelling place He may have for them on this earth: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Ultimately, God is the dwelling place of His people and that is for Whom their hearts should long.
Today, I will let God teach me to number my days. I will not let my heart long for some particular dream house or land upon this earth. I will remember that my time on this earth is very short in comparison to eternity. God is my dwelling place both now on this earth and in the future in heaven.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that’ (James 4:13-15).