Numbering Our Days

by Steve Akin

Moses was 80 when he wrote what we call Psalm 90 – the oldest psalm. God worked through him to free His chosen people. As they waited at the southern border of God’s promised land, he sent a few guys ahead of the encampment to get a feel for the strength of the enemy. Upon hearing the enemy was big and scary, the newly rescued Israelites chose not to put their trust in the One who had miraculously freed them.

Recall that Moses was adopted into Pharaoh’s home and raised as a member of the world’s most powerful family. He was trained in their language, culture, and leadership techniques. Then he turned 40 – what he thought as middle age – and fell into conflict. Would he rule alongside his adoptive family or support his enslaved blood-relative Hebrews? After killing an Egyptian in a fumbling grasp at identity, power, and recognition, he fled to Midian and tended sheep – for 40 years. 

Then God called 80-year-old Moses to go back to Egypt to lead the Hebrews out of slavery. Moses reluctantly agreed and returned with his brother and sister to free them. Think how energizing it must have been to have the calling he received at 40 confirmed at 80. That long wait created a long-suffering man. Now consider his frustration just months later with the job done, the promised land sitting a stone’s throw away, and the liberated aren’t interested!

Now read Psalm 90.

Four decades of dependence-building desert wandering was about to begin. It’s clear by the tone of Psalm 90 that Moses, nearly 30,000 days old, doesn’t expect to live much longer. He has no idea that he will actually live to see these stiff-necked people to the finish line.

Moses is not expecting to see many more days with an ostensibly failed mission. He wrote from a place of much frustration and suffering (vss 10-12):

Our days may come to seventy years,

    or eighty, if our strength endures;

yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,

    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

If only we knew the power of your anger!

    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.

Teach us to number our days,

    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.


Are we obedient to God’s calling in what we do – despite not knowing whether we will see the outcome? When we realize how fleeting life is, do we use our time wisely? As of the writing of this essay, I am 17,695 days old, and I hope to use each day going forward to express His love, obeying His call, trusting Him regardless of where He will lead me.