“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” –ESV
“Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise.” –NLT
“Oh! Teach us to live well!
Teach us to live wisely and well!”– MSG
(Three translations of Psalm 90:12)
The majority of things we must be taught. The alphabet, riding a bike, brushing our teeth. We need to be educated, or tutored into many different skills. Our teachers direct and guide us, they provide for us an understanding of the skills we need to acquire. As we advance through their instruction, we grow in proficiency.
The Psalmist comes to the realization that he needs to develop a particular skill. He desperately wants to craft his life to be honorable and obedient. He turns to God and seeks His aid. The psalmist seeks a ‘teacher’ who will instruct him. And actually, this is not only permissible, but it is quite commendable.
Our own lives are often chaotic and foolish. We live in a great deal of ignorance, strained relationships and bad decisions. We are ‘saved by faith’, but the course of our lives are very difficult regardless.
The Bible teaches us the ‘Law of Sowing and Reaping’ (Gal. 6:7-8). This essentially means that we do something that will come back and ‘haunt’ us. And we must confess that we ‘sow’ things that grow into very bad things–which we deeply regret.
The author of Psalm 90 doesn’t intend to continue doing stupid things. He has a need, and he is pretty adamant that God will help him. Part of what he understands is that he needs to get ahold of the reality of the ‘shortness’ of his life.
He has a limited lifespan, an expiration date.
He refuses the deception that life will just always continue unfolding. He doesn’t buy it. He counts on God to pace him, and to keep him from recklessly wasting his life. He is asking for restraints.
I encourage you to consciously make this step. Be deliberate in this. If we lack wisdom, we need to ask Him for it. Apart from His presence, our lives grow increasingly irrational. Living without restraints will lead us into more foolishness and despair.
“Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:16, ESV