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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 90:12

 

 

So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

Adam Clarke Commentary

So teach us to number our days - Let us deeply consider our own frailty, and the shortness and uncertainty of life, that we may live for eternity, acquaint ourselves with thee and be at peace; that we may die in thy favor and live and reign with thee eternally.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-90.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

So teach us to number our days - literally, “To number our days make us know, and we will bring a heart of wisdom.” The prayer is, that God would instruct us to estimate our days aright: their number; the rapidity with which they pass away; the liability to be cut down; the certainty that they must soon come to an end; their bearing on the future state of being.

That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom - Margin, “Cause to come.” We will bring, or cause to come, a heart of wisdom. By taking a just account of life, that we may bring to it a heart truly wise, or act wisely in view of these facts. The prayer is, that God would enable us to form such an estimate of life, that we shall be truly wise; that we may be able to act “as if” we saw the whole of life, or as we should do if we saw its end. God sees the end - the time, the manner, the circumstances in which life will close; and although he has wisely hidden that from us, yet he can enable us to act as if we saw it for ourselves; to have the same objects before us, and to make as much of life, “as if” we saw when and how it would close. If anyone knew when, and where, and how he was to die, it might be presumed that this would exert an important influence on him in forming his plans, and on his general manner of life. The prayer is, that God would enable us to act “as if” we had such a view.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-90.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

MOSES' PRAYER

"So teach us to number our days,

That we may get us a heart of wisdom.

Hearken, O Jehovah; how long?

And let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

O satisfy us in the morning with thy lovingkindness,

That we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us,

And the years wherein we have seen evil.

Let thy work appear unto thy servants,

And thy glory upon their children.

And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;

And establish thou the work of our hands upon us;

Yea, the work of our hands establish thou it."

"Teach us to number our days ... that we may get ... a heart of wisdom" (Psalms 90:12). This is a prayer that God will teach men to live as dying men should live, always taking account of the brevity and uncertainty of life and of the inevitable accounting before God in the Final Day. What a contrast is this with the attitude of many wicked people who live exactly as if they expected to live forever!

"Return ... repent thee" (Psalms 90:13). This is a plea, "For a restoration of God's favor."[16] To be sure, God does not "repent" in the human sense, but when the repentance and prayers of his people permit it, God indeed will restore them to favor.

"Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us" (Psalms 90:15). The two clauses in this and in the second half of the verse are synonymous pleadings with God to, "Balance the evil with good things."[17] It is as if Moses is saying, "O God, let us at least have good times that are as long as the evil times we have suffered."

"The prevailing thought in this section is one of confidence in the Lord's kindness and power. The psalmist knows that it is only God's favor that renews the sense of gladness and truly prospers the works of men."[18]

"Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory upon their children" (Psalms 90:16). Barnes understood this to mean, "Let us see thy power displayed in removing the calamities and in restoring our days of prosperity."[19] It was especially a concern of Moses that the next generation of Israel (their children) would also be made aware of God's glory.

"Let the favor of God be upon us ... establish the work of our hands" (Psalms 90:17). Those who do God's will during their earthly pilgrimage are happy indeed. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, assuredly, for they shall rest from their labors, and their work's follow with them" (Revelation 14:13). This indicates that the works of righteous people shall indeed survive them and follow them even to the Judgment of the Great Day. This must surely be what the psalmist meant by "establish the work of our hands." How glorious is the apostolic assurance that, "We know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Alexander Maclaren has a marvelous paragraph on this with which we wish to conclude this chapter.

Fleeting as our days are, they are ennobled by our being permitted to be God's "tools"; and although we the workers have to pass, our work may be established. That life will not die which has done the will of God. But we must walk in the favor of God, so that there can flow down from us deeds which breed not shame but shall outlast the perishable earth and follow their doers into the dwelling places of those eternal habitations.[20]


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/psalms-90.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

So teach us to number our days,.... Not merely to count them, how many they are, in an arithmetical way; there is no need of divine teachings for that; some few instructions from an arithmetician, and a moderate skill in arithmetic, will enable persons not only to count the years of their lives, but even how many days they have lived: nor is this to be understood of calculating or reckoning of time to come; no man can count the number of days he has to live; the number of his days, months, and years, is with the Lord; but is hid from him: the living know they shall die; but know not how long they shall live, and when they shall die: this the Lord teaches not, nor should we be solicitous to know: but rather the meaning of the petition is, that God would teach us to number our days, as if the present one was the last; for we cannot boast of tomorrow; we know not but this day, or night, our souls may be required of us: but the sense is, that God would teach us seriously to meditate on, and consider of, the shortness of our days; that they are but as a shadow, and there is no abiding; and the vanity and sinfulness of them, that so we may not desire to live here always; and the troubles and sorrows of them, which may serve to wean us from the world, and to observe how unprofitably we have spent them; which may put us upon redeeming time, and also to take notice of the goodness of God, that has followed us all our days, which may lead us to repentance, and engage us in the fear of God:

that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom; to consider our latter end, and what will become of us hereafter; which is a branch of wisdom so to do; to seek the way of salvation by Christ; to seek to Christ, the wisdom of God, for it; to fear the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom; and to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise; to all which an application of the heart is necessary; for wisdom is to be sought for heartily, and with the whole heart: and to this divine teachings are requisite, as well as to number our days; for unless a man is taught of God, and by his Spirit convinced of sin, righteousness, and judgment, he will never be concerned, in good earnest, about a future state; nor inquire the way of salvation, nor heartily apply to Christ for it: he may number his days, and consider the shortness of them, and apply his heart to folly, and not wisdom; see Isaiah 22:21.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-90.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

So teach [us] to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto l wisdom.

(l) Which is by considering the shortness of our life, and by meditating the heavenly joys.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-90.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

This he prays we may know or understand, so as properly to number or appreciate the shortness of our days, that we may be wise.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-90.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Teach us — To consider the shortness of life, and the certainty and speediness of death.

That — That we may heartily devote ourselves to true wisdom.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-90.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

12.Teach us so to number our days. Some translate to the number of our days, which gives the same sense. As Moses perceived that what he had hitherto taught is not comprehended by the understandings of men until God shine upon them by his Spirit, he now sets himself to prayer. It indeed seems at first sight absurd to pray that we may know the number of our years. What? since even the strongest scarcely reach the age of fourscore years, is there any difficulty in reckoning up so small a sum? Children learn numbers as soon as they begin to prattle; and we do not need a teacher in arithmetic to enable us to count the length of a hundred upon our fingers. So much the fouler and more shameful is our stupidity in never comprehending the short term of our life. Even he who is most skillful in arithmetic, and who can precisely and accurately understand and investigate millions of millions, is nevertheless unable to count fourscore years in his own life. It is surely a monstrous thing that men can measure all distances without themselves, that they know how many feet the moon is distant from the center of the earth, what space there is between the different planets; and, in short, that they can measure all the dimensions both of heaven and earth; while yet they cannot number threescore and ten years in their own case. It is therefore evident that Moses had good reason to beseech God for ability to perform what requires a wisdom which is very rare among mankind. The last clause of the verse is also worthy of special notice. By it he teaches us that we then truly apply our hearts to wisdom when we comprehend the shortness of human life. What can be a greater proof of madness than to ramble about without proposing to one’s self any end? True believers alone, who know the difference between this transitory state and a blessed eternity, for which they were created, know what ought to be the aim of their life. No man then can regulate his life with a settled mind, but he who, knowing the end of it, that is to say death itself, is led to consider the great purpose of man’s existence in this world, that he may aspire after the prize of the heavenly calling.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-90.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 90:12 So teach [us] to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto wisdom.

Ver. 12. So teach us to number our days] The philosopher affirms, that man is therefore the wisest of creatures, because he alone can number, Bruta non numerant. But in this divine arithmetic of numbering our days (to the which all other is not to be compared, no, though we could, as Archimedes boasted, number the stars of heaven, or the sands by the sea shore), God himself must be our teacher, or we shall never do it to purpose. R. Solomon observeth, that the word כן rendered "so" here, if taken as numeral letters, maketh seventy, and the years of our life are seventy; out of which, say other Rabbis, if we deduct the time of childhood and youth, which is vanity, the time of sleep, repose, repast, and recreation (which is more than the one half), and the time of affliction and grief which we enjoy not, what a poor pittance will life be reduced unto!

That we may apply our hearts] Heb. that we may cause them to come; for naturally they hang off, and make strange.

Unto wisdom] To the true fear of God, and mortification of sin, which is the sting of death, and makes it a trap door to hell. This is hard to do, but must be done; or men are undone for ever. To live with dying thoughts is the way to die with living comforts.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-90.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Psalms 90:12

The great mistake, perhaps, that people make when they reflect on the probable time they shall live in the body, is to think of their life on earth as the only life they have. We should not number our days in any such fashion as this. Time is to be regarded and prized not for the harvests that we reap, but for the seed-sowing that it enables us to do. Earthly life is not a unit; it is only a minute fraction of a unit. For the unit of being is so large that it has in it all opportunity, all occasion, all achievements, and all duration. The way to look at this life is to look at it as an opportunity to get started along the line of desirable progress, as a time to get rooted for a measureless growth, as a time to get initiated into the holy mysteries of existence and become familiar with some of its primary and essential commandments and virtues.

I. The way, therefore, to number our days is not to so number them that they seem to include the result of our lives, but to so number them that they seem to include simply the beginning of our lives. They and all they bring are only stepping-stones which lead us up to the threshold of a nobler life, nobler in its opportunities, occasions, and the character of its joy. We shall then see what life is worth and what it is not worth. We shall see what it should lead to and what we cannot afford to have it lead to. And seeing this, we shall apply our hearts unto wisdom.

II. Wisdom is a great word, because the idea it symbolises is great. Wisdom represents that finer power, that higher characteristic of mind, which suggests the proper application of facts, the right use of knowledge, the correct direction of our faculties. He whose heart is applied to wisdom has put himself in such a position that he can think divinely—think as God would think in his place.

III. Your greatest responsibility is yourself. The gravest charge you have to keep is the charge of your own soul. Life weaves us into the fabric of society. We are knitted and knotted with other lives. But death unthreads us from our connections. In the last day you will be responsible for yourself. Search, then, and see how you stand. The blunders of life do not kill. Let us remember that. Past follies do not forfeit future opportunity. God is always eager to give a man or woman one more chance. Heaven is never hopeless, never despairs touching man's ability to recover himself if he is down.

W. H. Murray, The Fruits of the Spirit, p. 157.


(with 2 Kings 20:11)

The Bible is God's dial, by which we have to measure life.

I. The dial must be so placed as to receive the rays of the sun. Every line will then come into use.

II. The dial of Ahaz was a public instrument intended for all the people of Jerusalem. The Bible is for all.

III. Clouds would sometimes obscure the sun, and then the dial of Ahaz was in shadow. Clouds sometimes come between the mind and God's book, but the Sun of righteousness never sets, and there is a silver lining in the darkest cloud of the Christian's experience.

IV. The sun went backwards, and not forwards, on the dial of Ahaz, as a sign to King Hezekiah that he would get well again. With God all things are possible.

J. H. Wilson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 24.


References: Psalms 90:12.—J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 4th series, p. 2; E. J. Hardy, Faint, yet Pursuing, p. 159; R. Lee, Sermons, p. 268; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xv., p. 24; D. Burns, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 68; Short Sermons for Family Reading, p. 329. Psalms 90:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix., No. 513; C. J. Vaughan, Harrow Sermons, 2nd series, p. 66; J. H. Wilson, The Gospel and its Fruits (C.S.), p. 75; J. Sherman, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 125. Psalms 90:15-17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix., No. 1701.


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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/psalms-90.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

So teach us, by thy Spirit and grace, as thou hast already taught us by thy word. Or, teach us rightly (as this word is used, Numbers 27:7 2 Kings 7:9)

to number, & c., as it follows. To number our days; to consider the shortness and miseries of this life, and the certainty and speediness of death, and the causes and consequences thereof.

That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom; that we may heartily devote ourselves to the study and practice of true wisdom, which is nothing else but piety, or the fear of God. And why so? Not that the Israelites might thereby procure a revocation of that peremptory sentence of death passed upon all that generation; nor that other men might hereby prevent their death, both which he very well knew to be impossible; but that men might arm and prepare themselves for death, and for their great account after death, and might make sure of the happiness of the future life; of which this text is a plain and pregnant proof.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-90.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

12. So teach us—This looks to the end of all divine judgment.

Lamentations 3:39-40. God’s displeasure is manifested to awaken a salutary fear of him, which shall turn men from sin, and lead to the practice of wisdom. So long as men treat sin as a trifle they will treat God with irreverence and themselves with abuse. Revelation 15:4


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-90.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 90:12. So teach us — By thy Spirit and grace, as thou hast already taught us by thy word; to number our days — To consider the shortness and miseries of this life, and the certainty and nearness of death, and the causes and consequences thereof; that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom — That we may heartily devote ourselves to the study and practice of true wisdom; meaning, undoubtedly, that wisdom which alone is such in the sense of the Holy Scriptures; namely, the fearing God and keeping his commandments, or true, genuine godliness and righteousness; that so, by making a right use of this short, uncertain space of time allotted us here, we may prepare for another state, a state of happiness hereafter. For Moses could not intend hereby to give the Israelites any hopes that, by applying their hearts unto wisdom, they might procure a revocation of that peremptory sentence of death passed upon all that generation; nor to suggest that other men might, by so doing, prevent their death; both which he very well knew to be impossible; but he intended to persuade the Israelites and others to prepare themselves for death, and for their great account after death, and, as they could not continue long in this life, and must expect much misery while they did continue in it, to make sure of the happiness of another. It appears, then, that the Israelites in the wilderness, when cut off from all hopes of an earthly Canaan, and the promises of this life, were not left destitute of better hopes, or without the knowledge of a Redeemer and life to come; and that when it is said, Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:16, God led them through this great and terrible wilderness, to humble them, and to prove them, that he might do them good in their latter end; the meaning is, “that he might do them good in their future state, according to the most natural sense of the word אחריתם, acharitham, there used, and Deuteronomy 32:29.”


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-90.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Stone. He alludes to nurses. (Calmet) --- All these expressions are metaphorical, to shew the assistance given by angels, to remove the obstacles which impede our progress towards heaven.


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-90.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

number our days. See note on "threescore", Psalms 90:10, above.

That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom = That we may bring home a heart of wisdom.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-90.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(12) Number our days.—This verse as it stands literally gives to allot, or in allotting (see Isaiah 65:12), our days, so teach, and we will cause to come the heart wisdom. The last clause, if intelligible at all, must mean “that we may offer a wise heart,” and the natural way to understand the verse is to make God, not man, as in the Authorised Version, the reckoner of the days. “In allotting our days thus make us know (i.e., make us know the power of Thine anger), in order that we may present a wise heart.”

The verse must evidently be taken in close connection. with the preceding, or the point of the petition is lost, and though the ordinary rendering, “Teach us to number our days,” has given birth to a number of sayings which might be quoted in illustration, it is neither in itself very intelligible, nor, except by one instance in later Hebrew, can it be supported as a rendering of the original.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-90.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
So
39:4; Deuteronomy 32:29; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Luke 12:35-40; John 9:4; Ephesians 5:16,17
that
Job 28:28; Proverbs 2:2-6; 3:13-18; 4:5,7; 7:1-4; 8:32-36; 16:16; 18:1,2; Proverbs 22:17; 23:12,23
apply our hearts
Heb. cause our hearts to come.

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-90.html.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Psalm 90:12

Psalm 90:12 "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

Casting our eyes back upon the year now past and gone, are there no mercies which claim a note of thankful praise? It is sweet to see the Lord"s kind hand in providence, but sweeter far to view his outstretched hand in grace. Are we then so unwatchful or so unmindful of the Lord"s gracious hand in his various dealings with our soul as to view the whole past twelve months as a dead blank in which we have never seen his face, nor heard his voice, nor felt his power? "Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness?" ( Jeremiah 2:31 ,) the Lord tenderly asks. Has he been such to us also for twelve long and weary months?

What! No help by the way, no tokens for good, no liftings-up of the light of his countenance, no visitations of his presence and power, no breakings-in of his goodness for all that long and dreary time—for dreary it must indeed have been for a living soul to have been left and abandoned of the Lord so long! If not blessed with any peculiar manifestations of Christ, with any signal revelations of his Person and work, blood and love, grace and glory, for such special seasons are not of frequent, occurrence, have we not still found him the Way, the Truth, and the Life? If we have indeed a personal and spiritual union with the Son of God, as our living Head, there will be communications out of his fullness, a supplying of all our needs—a drawing forth of faith, hope, and love—a support under trials, a deliverance from temptations, a deepening of his fear in the heart, and that continued work of grace whereby we are enabled to live a life of faith on the Son of God.


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Bibliography
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 90:12". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/psalms-90.html.

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