“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” ~Psalm 90:12
“Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” ~Psalm 25:4-5
“If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” ~Proverbs 2:4-6
I am quite sure that the passage from the song of Moses about “numbering our days” has been frequently referred to by people considering the coming of another birthday. It is not yet time for my next birthday (though that approaches quickly); but as it is still in the turning of a new year, I wish to pause to contemplate the thought of the purpose of my days and life here on the earth before the return of Christ and the resurrection.
In doing so, I realize that any consideration of the purpose of my own life is closely linked with the purpose of history itself–all of it–the good things, the bad things, the beautiful things, the ugly things, the dauntless strength of godly people, and the insanity of men and women who are without the light of the Word of God. All these things work together for the glory of God and these are those deeds of the Lord of which it is said: “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty and on your wondrous works I will meditate.” ~Psalm 145:4-5. In order that the Christian may come to learn more and more wisdom through numbering his days, he must bear in mind the remembrance of what God has already done in his own life, as well as in the history of his people–the mighty deeds of deliverance, the hours of discipline, the days of sufferings, the times of blessings, the joy and the anguish of our own lives as well as of our fellow saints; for it is the Lord who is the stronghold of the righteous in the day of trouble and it is the Triune God who says, “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” ~Isaiah 41:14. Truly, isn’t it only in the context of the covenant of God with Christ and with his people in him that the years and days of our lives come to have any real purpose in our own eyes?
Furthermore, not only do these passages tell us that we are to “number our days,” but they also describe the manner in which we may come to “get a heart of wisdom” through doing so. The Bible makes it clear, both here and elsewhere, that the attainment of that wisdom which comes from God is the ultimate goal of considering the years of our lives. Without that understanding, we are unable to face our days and years in a way that is consonant with the joyful praises we are to pour forth at the name of our Creator, Redeemer, Savior. As the passages above make clear, it is the Lord God alone who enlivens our souls and instructs us in the paths of righteousness in order that we might fear him: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight…Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” ~Proverbs 9:10; 3:5-8. Truly, this fear of the Lord is the gift of God; it is not natural to fallen humanity, who, loving death, revels in his supposed autonomy from the wisdom of God: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death…For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot…So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh…but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” ~Romans 8:2, 5, 12, 13-15
Finally, it is not without effort on our part that we come to learn wisdom and understanding from the mouth of God. It requires a dedicated “searching as if for hidden treasures,” as well as applying the truth of Scripture which we discover to our own hearts and years. Truly, the way of gaining wisdom and understanding is found through obedience to the law of God. As the apostle says; “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” ~Philippians 2:12-13. Another apostle speaks of this same principle: “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything–and it is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you–abide in him…No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” ~I John 2:27; 3:9
In short, it is a diligent searching of the Scriptures, accompanied by prayer and put into practice by application, through which we may learn to number the years and days of our lives and gain a heart of wisdom. As God teaches us his paths and leads us in his truth, we begin to break free from the various unscriptural opinions which surround us and invade our very hearts; for, as the Spirit works in us, we begin to learn how to discipline ourselves and to heed the voice of our God in his Word. In this, we also begin to find that our hearts are truly free and are no longer bound to serve sin–indeed, our hearts and minds are not bound to serve any but Christ! Through the pursuit of an understanding of the purpose of our years and days in the context of the truth of God, we begin to discover that no law but the law of Christ commands our spirits–lest we in the end deny the supremacy of his law and thus demonstrate a spirit of slavery and break the first commandment. And in this is found true freedom and true purpose and value for our own, personal lives and histories.