Teach Us to Number Our Days: Psalm 90:12
(Adapted from a sermon given on Psalm 90:12 at Cross of Christ Fellowship on 1/1/17 in Naperville)
NOTE: I preached this Psalm again on 1/1/2023. Here’s a link to it.
Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to Number Our Days”
Intro: In 120 years it is almost certain that everyone of us will be dead and buried in the ground (UNLESS THE LORD RETURNS). And for many of us it will be much shorter than that. Some of us here may have already lived a majority of our life, while others may have far to go. If you knew this was your last year of life, or last month, or last week, how might that change how you live, think, and feel?
Today’s text: Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
The BIG TAKEAWAY from our time this morning is this: Christ, by his grace, rescues us from the folly of forgetting eternity and leads us into a wisdom that rightly beholds both the brevity of our life and the eternal nature of God.
Today we’ll consider three points from this text and its reality in light of the gospel:
1 Number Our Days (REQUEST) 2. Heart of Wisdom (RESULT) 3. Christ who rescues us from folly (GRACE)
NUMBERING Our Days “Teach us to Number Our Days” (REQUEST)
God alone is eternal. Psalm 90:2 teaches us that “from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (90:2). He is not like us, He had no beginning; He is eternal. He is not limited to time, but over it all. For Him, a “thousand years is like a night” (90:4).
How differ are out lives! They are short. Psalmist says that we might make it to 70 or 80 (90:10)—though some make it longer, the point is that our lives aren’t generally that long. My own grandparents made it to their 70’s, while my Mom and stepfather didn’t make t past their 50’s.
In all this, it is ultimately God who gives us our lives and takes them away. He own us, and when He decides to take away our life, He is right and good. His purposes prevail.
Our passage shows us God is TEACHER. He speaks through His Word, and it is hear we hear His voice. In this we see the initial plea: “teach us to number our days.” In this we see humility: we need God to show us how to do this, we need His help! The plea itself is a request to comprehend how short our lives are and in light of God’s eternal nature. Such a request is vital for us, that might avoid the common error of arrogantly overlooking the brevity of our lives and making plans that overlook God’s ownership over our lives (James 4:13-17). God is eternal and our life is a VAPOR—quickly passing.
APPLICATION: How might our life look different if we held this truth in our heart? Might we be quicker to forgive, more bold in our gospel proclamation, more generous in our giving, more shaped by the priorities of Scripture? Might it sober us from some of our ‘self-importance’ and selfish ambitions to take up our cross and in love serve others?
Acquiring a Heart of Wisdom “That we may gain a heart of wisdom” (RESULT)
The second half of the verse shows the result of what happens when we are taught to number our days: we gain a heart of wisdom.
This is vital, because There are some REALLY unwise ways of living. Some of these are included here:
- Nihilistic Hedonism (There’s no point to life, pursue pleasure and die): Such a view is folly because it overlooks fact that God will Judge us all, there is an afterlife. He sees our “secret sins” (90:8) and will punish them.
- Living for Self-Centered Worldly Pursuits and Not for God. Such a view is foolish because it is arrogantly assumes autonomy (I am my own master) and ignorant of the fact that God gives us everything we have. We see Jesus make this point in Luke 12:13-21 of the rich man who builds his barns. We must be “rich toward God” if we are to be wise and see that everyday (bitter and joyful) and every breath we take are gifts from God who is in His right to take and give as He pleases.
- Idleness (Not doing anything). This view forgets that God has indeed saved us for good works (Eph 2:10), and that our lives and actions have meaning and purpose. We see this affirms in the last verse of Psalm 90 which ends with the repetition: “establish the work of our hands” (17). Thus God has created us with good works to do, works which might be established by God.
To avoid these foolish ways of living, we must be taught to number our days. Then we GAIN a heart of wisdom. Such an approach rightly be holds the brevity of life and the eternal Kingly nature of God and lives today in light of these facts. Fleshed out, it may look like this:
- Because my life is short, I will not place my hopes, identity, worth, in that which is fleeting. I will find these in God who made me and sustains me.
- Because God is eternal, I will live my life for Him and trust Him in the works He has given. He knows the beginning to the end.
APPLICATION: How have you bought into worldly philosophies about time or do you feel yourself being drawn into them? How might God be calling you to repent of sin and folly of worldliness? How might God be calling you to live differently this week and year?
Christ Rescues us from Folly and by Grace Saves us into Wisdom (GRACE)
We see then that our life is short and God is eternal. Yet a gospel-centered understanding of this will lead us to place our hopes in Christ, who delivers us from folly and leads us into wisdom. Christ is our eternal God who took on flesh and lived among us. He showed us how to live: Jesus perfectly numbered his days, with his a laser-sharp focus on the cross. He whole-heartedly love God and love others
Along with showing us how to live, Christ saves us from our sin and folly and rebellion. In GRACE, Jesus rescues from the “present evil age” (Gal 1). The rescuing came as he died for our sins and rebellion, unbelief, for our idolatry, for our disobedience on the cross, and then rose again.
Even more, he also brought in the ETERNAL Kingdom of God, and invites us to come in and be part of it. Thus, while our life is a vapor, we might part of his glorious eternal kingdom. And even now, by His Spirit, He is changing us to live differently today.
So let us behold Christ who saves us from our sin and the folly of sinfully thinking we are God and in the power of the Holy Spirit ask God to teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.