Teach Us to Number Our Days

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So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12 NKJV).

There’s an interesting thing that happens to people, at least, it happens to me. I know that I have a limited time on this earth, but most of the time, I’m not thinking about it. In our heads, it seems as if time is forever and so we procrastinate. We live as if there’s no God or as if we’ll have all the time we need to repent before we die.

We don’t seem to grasp how finite our time here on earth is or else we don’t fully understand the frailty of life. Maybe it was this idea that the psalmist was wrestling with when he wrote Psalm 90. He realized that because we don’t fully grasp these two concepts our lives aren’t lived as well as they should.

What does teach us to number our days mean?

The word translated as “to number” is the Hebrew word mânâh, (pronounced maw-naw’). Mânâh could also have been translated as to weigh out.

Let’s imagine that for a second. What if each of our days held a particular weight, not in terms of what it would look like on a scale, but in terms of importance. Suppose we earned credit for how our days were lived (a bit like you do when earning credit for a course)? How much would your days weigh? What would be the impact of each of your days on earth? How would they differ from your days now?

Psalm 90 is accredited to Moses, a man who lived 120 years. Moses’ life was divided into three equal parts:

  1. For forty years, he lived in Egypt and would have experienced both the poverty of the Hebrews and affluence and the Egyptians. He grew up as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter all the while knowing that he belonged in the fields with the other slaves.
  2. For forty years, he lived as a shepherd following his flocks across the land as they sought food and water. Much of his time would have been spent outdoors with little or no human companionship. He would have had ample time to contemplate the meaning of his life and his actions in the past.
  3. For forty years, Moses served as God’s mouthpiece to the children of Israel. He would have experienced the power and glory of God, as well as, the frailty of human nature.

We don’t know at what point Moses wrote this psalm, but we have the benefit of his advice.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom (Psalm 90:12 NLT).

Only when we understand how short our lives are will we learn to act with wisdom. If we forget how fleeting life is, it’s easy to get distracted. We can get so caught up in pursuing success as the world sees it that we forget our true purpose is found in God.

My friend, do you understand how precious and temporary your life is? I pray that you will choose to find purpose in the One who created you instead of all the things that distract you. May God teach you to number your days.


Lord, teach us to number our days. Help us to remember that this life is temporary and should be lived for Your glory. Reveal to me those things that I need to be doing to glorify Your name and help me to accomplish them. Thank You for hearing and answering this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pause for Reflection

  • Read Psalm 90. What do you learn about how fleeting life is?
  • What does this psalm reveal about the character of God?
  • What changes do you need to make in response to this psalm?

Other actions you can take:

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Teach Us to Number Our Days
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