Welcome to the Welling: for your spiritual health, your well-being, and your overflowing life. We are still in the front end of a new year and definitely the front end of a new decade. We’re talking about outliving our life, even though we cannot outlast it. Because there’s only one who outlasts it, the “everlasting to everlasting, you are God,” says Psalm 90.
So will you turn back with me to Psalm 90? We’re going concept by concept, paragraph by paragraph, pericope by pericope, segment by segment. The first segment speaks about God as He is. He’s the eternal one. That’s the essential reality of God. Otherwise, none of the other attributes really apply or is necessary.
Second, we come to human beings as we. We are mortal. He speaks about all humanity being mortal. That we are feeble, we are frail, we are finite. We are also fallen. We are fickle. We don’t follow Him. That’s from the first eleven verses.
But then, from verse 12 on, Moses goes on to a prayer, actually five prayers, asking the eternal God to engage with a mortal, as the mortal servant of God embraces the eternal. So turn with me and we’ll look from verse 12 on. It’s a great prayer. Five requests directly to God.
In Jewish monastic tradition, they would pray this prayer as they face a day of agricultural hard, harsh work. They needed to make decisions. They needed wisdom. Because with difficult circumstances, they needed compassion. Sometimes sadness filled their souls, and they needed gladness. They needed the comfort of God. They needed to know that there was meaning in their work and longevity to it.
So now look at verse 12, a favorite verse of believers, the daily living of each day for God’s purposes. Verse 12 is a prayer for wisdom. “So teach us to number our days so that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
What is Moses talking about here? How do we number our days, especially since we don’t know our last day? We can’t count our days like we count other things, but here are some thoughts for you.
One, we know that there is a last day. Two, it may be today. Three, that they cannot be moved. You can’t hurry it. You can’t postpone it.
There are limitations during these days that we live because of God’s justice and wrath being extended to the human race. So we’ve got to assume that we have a short time to live. To number our days then, is not to presume about our long life.
My father died at the age of 95, almost 17 days short of 95. My mother lived into her early 90s. So often, people say to me, Oh, it means you’ve got good genes. You can live a long life. No. I can’t presume upon it. My life can change very fast. Now, we can assume it and therefore we prepare and we plan and we project, but we cannot presume or predict.
He says numbering our days is so that we can apply a heart to wisdom. The way to apply our heart to wisdom is to number every day as our last day, says one church father. Then he says apply your heart, not just have knowledge. If you don’t have knowledge applied, it doesn’t translate into wisdom. Then he says, apply your hearts into wisdom, as a resolve of the heart. The biggest request I’ve had when I ask people what may I pray for you, and right away they say, Pray for wisdom. You can pray for that.
Secondly, Moses says we pray for God’s compassion. He says, Relent, oh Lord. Turn, oh Lord. How long will it be, oh Lord, and be compassionate for your servants. Show us Your compassion.
Isn’t that what the writer of the Book of Hebrews talks in view of the great high priest who transcended all human limitations ascended into heaven, sitting in the presence of God? However, He is not unfamiliar with human experience. He’s able to sympathize–the exact word in Greek–compassion. He feels on the inside what you feel on the inside.
Henry Lyte was a hymn writer. He wrote a beautiful hymn called, Abide With Me, which is sung all over the world. It was Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite hymn.
It is also played by the Army, Navy, and Air Force bands at the beating of the retreat after the India Republic Day celebrations each year. One verse goes this way, “Swift to its close, ebbs out life’s little day. Its joys grow dim, its glories pass away. Change and decay in all around I see. Oh, Thou who changes not, abide with me.”
He’s a compassionate God. You really know Him through the Lord Jesus. Otherwise, you’ll only know Him as an angry God against your sin.
Moses also prayed for gladness. Look at verse 15, “Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us.” That there is a scale of gladness and affliction, please tip it over to the gladness side, or at least let them balance out–the years that we have seen evil. In the middle of anguish and grief, pray for gladness.
Number four, he prays for satisfaction in life. Satisfy us in the morning. In the Jewish agricultural tradition I mentioned earlier, when they went out to work, they needed to find meaning and satisfaction in their lives. So, satisfy us.
And finally, in this group prayer, he prays for longevity–fruit that lasts. He says, let your work appear to your servants–we are servants. He repeats the word “servants” again in the following verse–to your children and the children of Your servants. That God’s work needs to be shown and done. Display them to Your servants, and extend them across the generations.
We are God’s servants. He accepts us. He shapes us, grows us, gives us, carries us, uses us, establishes us. Next time, we’ll talk about Him confirming our work as His servants.
In 1706, two young Germans, 24 and 29 years of age, came to South Eastern India to my forefather’s area and brought the gospel.
Young men didn’t know much about cultural anthropology or missiology, that we teach in missions classes, made every possible mistake. My forefather was a fanner in the king’s court. He embraced the gospel.
Those two young men did not know that 300 some years later, I’d would be sitting, sharing the good news to the whole world, including you, the Welling. You think they knew about longevity? They didn’t think it would last 300 years, I don’t think.
God’s work was revealed to them, so they moved out. And God’s work has been revealed to their children, children’s children, all the way to today.
Pray for wisdom.
Pray for God’s compassion. Pray for gladness to fill your soul. Pray for satisfaction in life. And pray for fruit, longevity, of your work, that it’ll last.