Teach us to Number our Days (The Meaning Behind it)

‘Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom’. This is a Bible verse that is often quoted but with little understanding. Some may not even know which book this verse is extracted from.

This verse is in Psalms chapter 90 verse 12.

To understand what this verse means, you have to read the preceding verses. In the preceding verses, the psalmist is contemplating on the shortness of life.

When he gets to verse twelve, he makes a prayer to God to teach him to number his days. Why does he make this prayer? What is important about numbering our days? These are among the questions I want to answer in this article.

The Prayer

‘Teach us to number our days’ is the prayer that the psalmist makes after thinking about life. The psalmist realized that numbering of days is important yet only God can give someone the ability to do so.

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He then decides to make this prayer that God may teach him to number his days. Numbering of days is an act done through the spirit of Wisdom.

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Since Wisdom comes from God, it makes sense to pray to God to teach you to number your days. The days you are numbering are given to you by God. Why not ask Him to teach you how to number them?

The days we live on earth are a gift. This gift can be difficult to manage. A wise receiver of the gift asks the giver to teach him how to manage it.

The first step in managing the gift is by determining its quantity. It is only when its quantity is determined that plans to make good use of it can begin.

The prayer that the psalmist makes in this verse is a crucial prayer that we all need to make. A life not managed is non-existent.

Importance of Numbering our Days

What is so important about numbering our days? Well, among many other reasons, it is wise to number your days so that you may know that they are few.

Yes, our days on earth are few and full of trouble.

In the book preceding the book of Psalms, Job acknowledges in chapter 14 verse 1 that man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.

The Bible is not short of verses that remind us that our lives are like the grass of the field, today they are here but tomorrow they are thrown into the furnace.

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To us, living for eighty years is a long life. But in the eyes of God, it is a blink in time. How many years has God lived through? How much time has He witnessed? What is 100 years to Him?

When we look at the lives we live on earth from God’s perspective, we understand that they are short.

Death is coming. Every day that you wake up, you are one day closer to your death than you were the previous day.

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With this understanding, you are expected to take into your heart the reality of the shortness of your life on earth.

Add on it the fact that most of your days will be days of sorrow and you quickly realize that life on earth is indeed fleeting.

Understanding that our Days are Few

God wants us to understand that our days are few so that we put them to good use. There is a great assignment that God has for each one of us.

These assignments take up majority of our years on earth. Wasting time thinking that life is long will definitely make us complacent.

But once we know that our days on earth are few, we will be keen to complete God’s assignment.

How many times have you heard people say they are not ready yet to start following God? Some are wasting their lives in worldly pleasures in the name of taking life slow.

But in reality, the time they are wasting will never be recovered.

The assignment God has for you may start when you are eighty years old like Moses. But before you start it at eighty years old, God wants to prepare you for fifty years.

If you waste part of the fifty years of preparation, you may not have sufficient time to carry out God’s assignment. Are you ready to disappoint God?

Gaining a Heart of Wisdom

One of the characteristics of wisdom is that with it, you can see far ahead in time. Once you know what is coming, you can prepare yourself for it.

Fools get to events in time that they had no idea they were coming. Having little time to prepare, they are swallowed alive.

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When you number your days and know that they are few, you will work knowing that your time is limited. You will spend the strength of your youth to build a solid foundation because you know that soon you will be old and without the youthful strength.

A heart of wisdom comes with sadness. This is why the author of Ecclesiastes notes in the last verse of chapter 1 that with much wisdom comes much sorrow.

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But remember that a sad face is good for the heart. Even Jesus was said to be a man of sorrows.

Knowing that the youthful vigor you have will be no more soon is not the kind of information that will send you cheering.

Yes, you will mourn but your mourning will turn to joy when you follow the way of wisdom.


Pray today that God may reveal too you just how short your life is. It is one thing to know that your life is short but it is a different thing to have it revealed to you.

There are people who know that life is short but then they give themselves over to worldly pleasures. Such is not the kind of action that God wants you to take when you learn just how short your life on earth is.

God wants you to work with urgency to complete the assignment He gave you. That is the true message behind the scripture in psalms 90:12.

God bless you!