Numbering Our Days
Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. Psalm 39:4
The Bucket List, a 2007 movie, featured two men who met in a cancer ward. Vastly different in status—one a billionaire, one a mechanic—they both received the same devastating news: they were terminally ill. They knew their days were numbered, but they didn’t know how much time they had left. Together they determined to embrace life rather than yield to despair, so they created bucket lists: things they’d do before they “kicked the bucket.”
In the Old Testament, King Hezekiah also faced terminal illness. Up until that time, Hezekiah had been a godly king. In answer to his fervent prayer for healing, God graciously granted him fifteen more years (2 Kings 20:1-7).
Maybe Hezekiah thought he was particularly special to God when he received the gift of additional life. Unfortunately, he responded in arrogance rather than humility: he proudly showed visitors from Babylon his full treasury—not just his own treasures but ones his ancestors had stored up as well (2 Kings 20:17).*
God told Hezekiah that all he had shown these foreigners would become theirs. The Babylonians would not only confiscate the treasures, but also take some of Hezekiah’s sons to their country to become eunuchs. Instead of heirs to their father’s throne, they would become household servants.
But Hezekiah didn’t ask God to spare his sons; Hezekiah saw only that he’d have a longer life and that his country would be at peace during his lifetime.
If you knew you only had fifteen more years to live or if you could have fifteen years added to your life, what would you do? Would you spend the time on yourself or on others? Would you consider how your decisions would impact future generations?
Like the men in the movie, we don’t know how much time we have left. We may not be facing a terminal illness, but our days are numbered. May we all number our days wisely—glorifying God and serving others.
Read Luke 12:16-21. What was more important than personal building projects in Jesus’ parable? How can this principle be applied to our lives when God blesses us with a season of prosperity?
Read Hebrews 12:2. Jesus Christ didn’t just see the small picture of his earthly life, especially his three short years of ministry, or at his death, three hours of agony. What was His focus?
Compare Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 19:15-19* with the one in 2 Kings 20:3. What is the topic of each prayer? Which one do you think was more pleasing to God? Why?
See Hezekiah’s Prayer under Dig into Prayers to learn more about Hezekiah’s other prayer.
Nancy J. Baker
*Note: Some Bible scholars, including Warren Wiersbe and Leon Wood, believe that the events of 2 Kings 20 precede the victory over Sennacherib recorded in 2 Kings 19.