Teach Us to Number Our Days

One of the psalms that I think about all the time is Psalm 90:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
The line that I dwell on a great deal is "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

The NET translation translates "teach us to number our days" as "teach us to consider our mortality." That's a less poetic translation, but it communicates the idea.

Our psychological default is to live each day as if we have all the time in the world. Consequently, we become bored with life, even bored with those we love. Life is filled with hurry, distraction, dissatisfaction, and a taken-for-granted attitude. Days and moments get wasted.

But we don't have all the time in the world. Every breath and heartbeat is a miracle that should stun us into wonder and awe. We should baptize every day and every face with gratitude.

One of my constant prayers is that I'll number today, that I won't take this day or those I love for granted. I pray for a an open, grateful heart.

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