They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

“Teach us to number our days”

  “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end
     and the number of my days;
     let me know how fleeting is my life.

  You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
    Each man’s life is but a breath.

  Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
    He bustles about, but only in vain;
    he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

  “But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
— Psalm 39:4-7

  The length of our days is seventy years –
    or eighty, if we have the strength;
    yet their span [a] is but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

  Who knows the power of your anger?
    For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

  Teach us to number our days aright,
   that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
— Psalm 39:4-7

These two verses have been more and more important to me as I realize just how short life is. At 59 years of age, I’m seeing more and more trouble, more and more disease and death. I realized I don’t have an infinite amount of time, and the thought of wasting a day is unacceptable to me, now. I want to make the rest of my days count.

The Hebrew word for “number” is much bigger than just “to count”. It means to give an accounting, to account for – you have to show that you made a profit, or used what you were given well.

Stones in a Jar

Stones in a Jar

Twice now I’ve heard the illustration of the stones in the jar and it has stuck with me. I even saved a big jar from mom, Dorothy’s’ stuff to use for the purpose. The story goes like this: the Rabbi collected enough small stones in a jar to represent one for each day of the rest of what he thought his lifespan might be, 70 years or so. Every morning he would reach in the jar and take a stone and put it in his pocket, where he could feel it. At the end of each day, he would pull the stone out of his pocket and talk to God and discuss how he used the day. Then he would throw away the stone. Day after day, he could see the amount of stones in the jar being reduced. It was a great reminder to the rabbi that he had a limited amount of time and that he must use them the best way possible.

I know I have a limited number of stones. The jar is going down very quickly. I must use each day wisely. Father, forgive me when I waste a day and I don’t use it in a productive way for your kingdom. When you are young, you think there is an endless supply. Now I am being reminded each day that there is a finite number of time that we have. Teach me to number my days.

Meditation – A New Perspective

I received a wonderful, new perspective on the idea of meditation while on this last trip.  I had memorized Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8 and knew I need to meditate on God’s Word.  My mental picture of meditating was more like musing, pondering over what was said.  I had a mental picture of meditation as a guy with his fist under his chin, quietly pondering the words of the Bible.  It turns out that meditation is much more than what I thought.  Let’s look at some interesting stuff.

First of all, meditation on God’s word was a very high priority for the Bible authors.  The Hebrew Bible is divided into three major parts, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.  Joshua is the first book in the prophets, right after the law (first five books).  It’s opening statement in chapter one is a command to meditate on the law (first five books) day and night.  The book of Psalms is the first book of the Writings and its opening chapter opens with the same idea to meditate on God’s law, day and night.  Meditation is the key theme that binds the three dimensions of the Hebrew Bible together.

"As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey..."In each of these texts the Hebrew word translated meditate is “hagah” (Strong’s 1897).  This is the same word that is used in Isaiah 31:4 — “As the lion growls (hagah), a great lion over its prey, and though a whole band of shepherd is called together against him, he is not frightened by their shouts.”  The word “hagah” is not just a lion roaring, (arrgh!)  but chewing, ripping, snarling, shaking his pray, holding on to not be driven off — you get the picture.  You are very  persistent, chewing and wrestling with the word.  The word also means to emit a sound, verbalize, mutter, to speak in an undertone; it was not silent (See Our Father Abraham, pp 154-155).

This understanding of the meaning of hagah gives graphic insight into what meditation is.  Meditation is the outward verbalization of one’s thoughts towards God, and talking out loud as you pour over his teachings and words.  It is the wrestling with the Word; you can’t be driven off of it, you are chewing on it, pondering it, day and night.  Meditation in English is too nice a word.

In addition the use of hagah in the context of Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8 implies that the word is designed to be read out loud.  As you verbalize the word and your thoughts it allows you to pray with more intensity and focus.  You are pouring out to God your personal prayers, doubts, fears, and problems.

This thought of “hagah” was a great revelation to me!  I love the picture of the lion wrestling with his pray and want to do that in my reading and talking time with YHWH.

Psalm 19:14 says, “may the words of my mouth and the hagah of my heart be acceptable unto you, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer!”  Cool!