VERSE OF THE DAY
Psalm 90:12 (New International Version)
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
teach us how short our life is so that we may become wise for each day stands numbered in your book for you only know each day numbered
Why should we want God to teach us to number our days (Psalm 90:12)?
Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The request “teach us to number our days” means that we need God to reveal to us the brevity of life. That revelation will help us grow wise, and wisdom is important because the choices we make during our brief stay on earth have eternal consequences. The remainder of Psalm 90 gives details about God’s wrath against sin and about the meaning of life. Our earthly lives will not last long, and we need wisdom to prepare for what follows.
Psalm 90 was penned by Moses, a man with whom the Lord spoke “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11; see also Numbers 12:7-8). Yet Moses wrote about the fierce anger of God against sin. He pleaded with the Lord to help humankind realize that we will all answer to God for deeds done in the body (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10). In Psalm 90:11, Moses writes, “If only we knew the power of your anger!” Moses was a man who knew God better than most mortals, yet he had experienced the sting of God’s punishment for his sin and yearned to help others avoid it (Numbers 20:12).
Jesus gave a parable that also explains what happens when we don’t “number our days.” In Luke 12:19–21 He describes a rich man who wanted only to “eat, drink, and be merry” and had no time or thought for God. The rich man believed he had years yet to enjoy his pleasures, but God required his soul that very night. If the rich man had learned to “number his days,” he would have pursued ventures that had eternal significance. We can learn from this parable that none of us know how many days we will be granted, so we must not waste them on silly, selfish pursuits that have no real value.
God’s desire for human beings is that we learn, grow, and seek wisdom (Proverbs 2). As we learn to number our days, we will share that desire. We were created to walk in fellowship with God, discovering the mysteries and delights He has scattered throughout creation. The Lord enjoys partnering with us as we pursue all He designed for us to accomplish (Psalm 37:23; Ephesians 2:10). When we live in harmony with Him, death is simply a change of address. Our enjoyment of Him continues unabated when we step from this life into eternity.
Those who have learned to number their days spend them in pursuit of wisdom, goodness, and the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). They don’t have to fear the wrath of God when their earthly lives are over. Jesus came to earth to make a way for us to be made right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). But He won’t force His gift of eternal life on anyone (John 3:16–18). Those who never learn to number their days spend them as if this life is all there is. Psalm 90 warns them about the judgment they are destined to undergo (Hebrews 9:27). But when we learn to number our days, we see each day as a valuable gift and an opportunity to store up treasure in heaven (Luke 12:33; Revelation 22:12).
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Why did the people in Genesis live such long lives?
How do we “take refuge under His wings” (Psalm 91:4)?
What does it mean to dwell in the “shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1)?
Is there anything I can do to guarantee myself a long life?
Is there an age limit to how long we can live?
What Does Psalm 90:12 Mean? ►
Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.
Too often we think in terms of years and make plans for the far distant future, and yet we are instructed to live one day at a time and not to even worry ourselves about the needs of tomorrow, for each day has sufficient trouble of its own.
The children of Israel were given one day’s supply of manna in the wilderness in order that they might learn to trust in the sufficient provision of the Lord, Who never failed to provide for their daily needs – and we also need to learn this important lesson too.
We should not only reflect on the brevity of our time here on earth and recognise that our times are in God’s hands and that He has scheduled every day of our life to bring glory to Himself but also that we should make the best use of our time, during our brief sojourn on earth, by redeeming the time and making the most of every opportunity we have on earth.
This world is not our home for we have a heavenly citizenship and a glorious inheritance secured for us in heaven – but every day of our lives is an opportunity that God has graciously given us to use wisely and diligently for His glory, for the victorious life that has been lived wisely and well is the one that has honoured the Lord in thought, word and deed.
May the Lord teach each one of us to number our days carefully, so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts – by faith in Christ Jesus, our Saviour.
What does Psalm 90:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]
Considering God’s righteous anger and wrath (Psalm 90:11), Moses provides an example of sensible prayer. He asks God for wisdom to account for our time. Time flies, life is uncertain, and God judges sin. It is important, therefore, to value the moments and days He has given us. We cannot know what tomorrow will bring (Proverbs 27:1), so we ought to dedicate today and every day to the Lord. We must live sensibly and with a purpose, yet do so one day at a time.
We should seek divine wisdom for the best way to live throughout each day. Our prayer in the morning should be what David prayed: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” (Psalm 143:10). Jesus set a perfect example of morning prayer that we can emulate (Mark 1:35). Surely, if we considered every 24-hour period as something valuable God has entrusted to us, we would faithfully dispense our moments in ways that honor Him (1 Corinthians 4:2).
Psalm 90:11–17 calls on the Lord to teach His people to number their days and gain wisdom. Moses, the author, prays for mercy and joy. Also, he asks the Lord to prosper His servants’ work. Other Scriptures emphasize God’s compassion, the joy He gives, and the blessing He pours out on those who serve Him (Psalm 100:5; Proverbs 22:4). The books of Ezra and Nehemiah demonstrate the truth that God grants these gifts to those who honor Him, even if those gifts aren’t always in the form of an easy, prosperous life.
Psalm 90, likely the oldest psalm, opens with Moses addressing God as eternal and Israel’s dwelling place, but quickly shifts to an acknowledgement of man’s brief life on earth. Our iniquity is the reason God directs His wrath at us. In most cases, a person can expect to live somewhere around 70 or 80 years, barring disease or misfortune. Short or long, life is full of toil and trouble. In view of life’s brevity, Moses asks the Lord to fill His people with wisdom. He also asks the Lord to reveal His work, demonstrate His power, grant His favor, and make Israel’s labor successful.