The Number of Our Days

Yael Eckstein  |  November 29, 2020

gift of time

“Show me, LORD, my life’s end
   and the number of my days;
   let me know how fleeting is my life.” — Psalm 39:4

In honor of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.

What does the average lifespan look like?

In order to answer that question one individual turned to jellybeans — 28,835 of them. Each jellybean represents a day in the average life. In a video that teaches us the value of every day, we are given a glimpse of what the length of our lives may look like as represented in jellybeans.

Next, the video proceeds to take away jellybeans from the great pile that is our lives. It explains where our days go — 477 beans for sleeping; 1,635 beans for eating or drinking-related activities; and 3,202 jelly beans for working. An additional 1,099 jellybeans are spent in a car, while 2,676 are allotted for staring at a television, and 1,576 are designated for household chores.

The video continues until we are left with just under 3,000 jellybeans. This is the time that we can use to do whatever we want — read, relax, check Facebook, learn a new skill, help someone in need, and so on and so forth. By this point, we can appreciate that there isn’t a whole lot of time left, but substantial enough.

Next, the video asks us how we might spend that precious time if we only had half of it left. What about half of that, or half of that? Finally, as only one jellybean is left, we are asked, “what if you only had this day?”

Our Days Are Numbered

This video is a powerful visual reminder that our days are numbered. If there is something that we always wanted to do “one day,” we had better get around to it today! Clarity comes from knowing that the number of our days is finite and how fleeting our time on earth really is. But from that understanding, comes strength and power.

In Psalm 39, King David recognized the value of this knowledge. He asked: “Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” David recognized that by knowing how little time he had left in life, he would be motivated to accomplish as much as he possibly could.

Translated from the original Hebrew, we find one slight change in this verse. It reads: “Show me… the measure of my days.” From this word, and the fact that the word “days” was used as opposed to “years,” the Jewish sages explain that the length of our lives is not nearly as important as the quality of our days. God gives us all a job to do here on earth. Our lives will be judged not by how long we live, but by how much of our job we accomplish. In getting the job done, each day counts.

So, what will you do with this day that God has given to you?

Your Turn:

Celebrate this season of giving thanks with our complimentary devotional guide, “The Gift of Gratitude.” Download your copy today!

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