Numbering Our Days!
William Nicholson, 1862
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!" Psalm 90:12
What is man? A frail and dying sinner. This is solemnly taught in this Psalm. Who can read it without being deeply humbled, and affected? Who can read it aright without praying, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!"
I. The Object of the Prayer."Numbering our days." To number means to reckon, to count, to calculate.
1. We are very apt to forget the nature of human life. Life is a vapor — like grass, a passing shadow, a fading flower, etc. etc. "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14. It is frail and short, and yet we talk and act as if we were never to die. The mind is fully absorbed by the world, while "our breath is in our nostrils."
2. That we take a retrospective view of our life. We must realize that we have already spent a great portion of our life in selfishness and folly. How little has been lived to God — how much to Satan!
3. That we number or calculate prospectively. We must realize that the remaining remnant of our life will rapidly pass away. That remnant will be short. What a little time we have to live!
4. We must realize that time of our death is uncertain. "You do not know the day nor the hour!"
Number our days! Calculate according to your natural strength — the nature of your constitution, according to bodily indications. Perhaps the outward man begins to perish, and you feel it.
Take into consideration also the numerous apparent accidents, etc., by which life is terminated.
Number your days according to the utmost limit of life. "Threescore years and ten." What a few days have you to live!
5. That the small remnant of our life, is the only portion allotted to us for performing the will of God. We have a great work to do in a very short time.
II. The End for which we must number our days."That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!"
We have been foolish. It is high time to awake, and put away childish things! "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light!" Romans 13:12
1. That we may repent of our sins — our loss of time — and abuse of mercy.
2. That we may seek, obtain, and enjoy the salvation of Christ. "Wise unto salvation."
3. That we may consecrate ourselves to the service of Christ, and the Divine glory. "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them!" Luke 12:37
4. That we cherish a growing faith in Christ, and the hope of immortality.
5. That we live in constant expectation of death.
This is true wisdom. In this way . . .
we properly estimate life,
we enjoy it,
the mercy of God sweetens it,
we are prepared for uncertainties,
we gain substance, and not shadows,
we secure Heaven, and escape perdition.
The vanities of earthly life, are followed by the sublime realities of eternity!
III. We need God to teach us, and must pray for it.God is willing to teach us, and none else can.
Pray for a disposition to number our days.
Pray for help in the use of those means designed to prepare us for death.
Pray for victory . . .
over the flesh,
over the world,
over the creature, and
over every object of undue attachment.
Pray for strong faith in Christ, and of a bright hope of Heaven, to enable us to conquer the fear of death, that we may not regard it with terror, but as the messenger of Christ to fetch us home to himself!