Wisdom from Above
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of Your anger, and Your wrath according to the fear of You? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
These are not very encouraging words, yet we might find it difficult to disagree with the psalmist. Some individuals do live well past 100 years, but such longevity is rare. Even though today many people may celebrate 90 years and more, the psalmist rightly observes that "the years of our life" are 70 or 80. Whatever the number of years involved, we may readily agree that a life span is "but toil and trouble." Trouble is something we experience at every age and, while the nature of the burdens we bear changes with the passing years, our burdensome troubles will always weigh heavily on us.
Do we live out our span of years in fear of God's wrath and judgment? Is that the source of our trouble? The psalmist is concerned about that: "You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence" (Psalm 90:8). With the psalmist, we pray for a realistic understanding of our limited life spans that will impart to us "a heart of wisdom." During our earthly years, do we follow the divine wisdom revealed in the Word of God, or do we listen to the wisdom of the world?
The world's wisdom tells us (as expressed in Jesus' parable), "You have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry" (Luke 12:19b). The wisdom from above tells us, "Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13). The world's wisdom claims that repentance and faith are unnecessary and the cross is just so much foolishness. What can it matter, worldly wisdom asks, that a Jewish rabbi was crucified by the Romans centuries ago? Why should that concern us today? The wisdom of the Word answers, "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21). In the face of the world's scorn, we boldly preach "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2b).
Worldly wisdom finds happiness for today and hope for the future in self-centered pursuits, but as Paul wisely said, "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15:19). Hope for "this life only" is a worldly—and sadly limited—hope. Godly wisdom, a gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, teaches us to look to the future with hope in Christ, to await with confidence the day of His return and the resurrection of our glorified (and ageless!) bodies. In every year the Lord our God grants to us, with godly wisdom and in humble repentance, we join the psalmist in grateful prayer: "Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14).
Lord, throughout the span of our years, help us by Your Spirit to grow in the wisdom found in Your holy Word. Amen.
Dr. Carol Geisler
1. Do you recall the time you first thought about life's brevity and the end of your life?
2. Do you fear old age? How do you live differently now than when you were younger?
3. How does a person number his days to present a "heart of wisdom" to God? What does a heart of wisdom mean to you?
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These are not very encouraging words, yet we might find it difficult to disagree with the psalmist.