“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
This psalm is an ancient reality check. The preface says it is “A prayer of Moses, the man of God.” Moses was apparently a very serious guy.
God was before the tallest mountains, predates the greatest, most ancient things we can fathom. He is “from everlasting to everlasting (v.2). We are as dust before him (v.2). Not even time itself can measure him: “a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past” (v.4). We are as fleeting as a dream compared to the Lord (v.5), no more enduring than blades of grass (v.6).
Most of the psalm is meant to remind us how small we are and how great God is. Maybe we live seventy, maybe even eighty years, but that is a mere breath next to the Lord (v.10).
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (v.12). May we not, he prays, live as if our lives were our own, as if we were our own masters. May we live with the full knowledge of the fact that we are going to die, and that our iniquities are heavy enough to drag us to the depths of hell. May we live in light of the bad news of our sin and God’s wrath. May we look the dark side of life full in the face so that we have no hope in this world apart from God.
And may that drive us to our knees.
May we see how desperate our earthly situation is and find no peace apart from God. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (v.14). There is nothing to rejoice in on this earth, for it’s all coming to an end. That’s why he wants us to number our days. But there is peace and joy to be found in God himself, shining the light of his grace upon us in Christ.
That’s his last prayer: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us” (v.17). Moses wants God’s favor, his grace. In Christ, that prayer is always and ever answered.