I confess that I can get lost in time without my calendar. Calendars, those wonderful systems of organizing time have an interesting history. The calendars we use now were introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 B. C. It was the first time that dating was based on an algorithm which introduced a leap year every four years instead of being based on the lunar and solar cycles that calendars had been based on up until that point (which added in extra months occasionally instead) . Our most ancient calendars discovered to date come from the Bronze Age from Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations. The name calendar is a throw-back to the time when dating was based on the lunar cycle. It comes from the Latin word calendae meaning “to call out” and referred to the “calling out” of the new moon when it was first seen.
We tend to run through our days, weeks, months, even years from one task to another. We don’t really think in terms of making each day count for something unless we have a goal in mind such as completing a project for work or a personal goal like losing weight. God’s idea on how our days should be counted is very different because God has a very different view of time. Ps. 90:1-12 gives us a picture of God in respect to time and how He expects us to use it. In verses 1 and 2 the psalmist talks about the timelessness of God. Verse 3 speaks of humankind’s ephemeral (temporary) nature. We begin as dust and end up that way. Verse 4 proclaims that time is irrelevant to God in the greater scope of things. A thousand years is as quick as a blink of an eye to Him. In verse 5 the psalmist reflects on how the life of a person passes quickly before God and gives several illustrations of things which pass quickly: yesterday, the night, and a flood. The psalmist continues his use of similes in verse 6 by saying that a “man is like the grass which springs up in the morning but is gone by the end of the day”. Verses 7-9 get to the crux of the matter. Israel has filled their time seeking their own gain and pleasure but this has displeased God and stirred up His anger. The psalmist then reminds us that the span of life is, in God’s eyes, a brief 70 to 80 years and during the course of those decades a man will work hard. But God’s judgment comes at the end (vv. 10-11). The conclusion then is this: God must teach us to “number our days” so that when that judgment comes we can “present a heart of wisdom” to Him.
The words used here are significant. The verb used for teaching is the kind that produces a deeper knowledge of something. God used it when He revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush as Yahweh. He had not made Himself known to the patriarchs in the same way. As one would expect “numbering” days is the same as marking off a calendar until a special event takes place. But instead of a counting the days until something like a birthday, God wants us to number our days in order to gain wisdom. Wisdom is not extra knowledge, but the skill, experience and ability to live out God’s commands in everyday life with a proper fear and reverence for Him. God wants wisdom to reside in us not on an intellectual level only but in our heart which in Biblical terms is the inner disposition of a person. The Bible encourages people to devote their heart to the Lord (1 Ki. 15:3), seek the Lord with their heart (2 Chr. 11:16), and commit their heart to the Lord (Dt. 6:5; 2 Chr. 15:15), because God can truly discern what is in a person’s heart even if another person can’t (1 Sam. 16:7). The reason to attain a heart of wisdom is simple. It is to be presented to the Lord. This verb literally means to bring something to a physical location. Here the heart of wisdom is brought directly to the Lord. It is our gift to Him.
So often I run through my days thinking my goal is to get this or that done. But God prefers that I number my days soaking in what He wants to teach me about Himself. From now on, when I look at my calendar, I hope the dates will be filled in with wisdom so that my heart is filled with it when I stand before the Lord someday (Rom. 12:1-2).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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