Daily Family Worship

Psalm 71: The Song of the Aged Believer

by | May 18, 2024

psalm 71

All that is known concerning the occasion upon which this Psalm was penned is that it was composed when the author’s old age was drawing near. Here he views the trials and the blessings of life, as considered from the contemplation of its approaching close (verses 5, 9, 17, 18). The life of the author had been one of trials (verse 20), but also of great mercies (verses 6, 7, 17). He was surrounded with difficulties, the infirmities of age were coming upon him, and he was encompassed with enemies (verses 10, 11, 20); and therefore, he sought the continued favor and blessing of God in the little time that yet remained to him.

This is a Psalm that is of great value, for it describes the feelings of a righteous person when he is advancing in years. It is an illustration of the fact that the Bible is adapted to all the conditions of human life. In a Book that claims to be a revelation from God; and in a world where “old age,” with its trials, infirmities, recollections, and hopes are so prominent in actual reality – it would have been unaccountable if there had been nothing to illustrate the feelings of those who are in advancing years, nothing to suggest the kind of reflections that are especially appropriate during that period in life, nothing to cheer the heart of the aged believer, nothing to inspire him with hope, nothing to prompt him to recall the lessons of the past, and nothing to make use of those lessons to prepare him for the future! Such a thing would have been like living in this world that is full of trials and troubles, but having nothing in the Bible to comfort the mind in these afflictions, and to enable people to derive proper lessons from the experiences of life. This Psalm, therefore, is one of the most valuable portions of the Bible to a certain class of mankind. It teaches us concerning the proper reflections of a believer as the infirmities of age draw on, and as he reviews the mercies and the trials of the past.

This Psalm, in general, embraces five points. First, we have a prayer for deliverance from troubles, and from wicked people (verses 1-4). Next, we have an acknowledgment of God’s goodness in early life, and a grateful review of Divine mercies that have been manifested from the earliest years of youth (verses 5-8). Then we read the Psalmist’s prayer that God would still preserve him as old age draws on, that He would interpose on his behalf, and that He would enable him to still be useful to the world – to that generation, and also to generations to come (verses 9-18). Moreover, he expresses a confident expectation that his prayer would be answered, and that God would be merciful to him (verses 19-21). And lastly, he declares his intention to offer praise to the Lord as a suitable return for the mercies of the past, and for all that he hoped to receive in time to come (verses 22-24).

Let us remember that we do not need to experience a loss of our joy and gladness, even though the days of our life are rapidly passing on, if we will only fix our thoughts in the same place where the Psalmist fixed his! Other subjects will soon wear out, but those who make God’s righteousness and salvation their theme will always have material for meditation and praise. Here we have an inexhaustible subject, and one which will keep us rejoicing throughout our whole life – no matter how old or young we are! Let us ask for the Lord’s help, so that we may disappoint the calculations of those who hate us and try to bring us down when we are advancing in years. It is a piteous spectacle when apparently prosperous lives are overclouded, and age is overwhelmed in catastrophes which seem to be insurmountable. But such is not God’s way with His loyal servants! His rivers do not end in swamps and marshes; but rather, they broaden and deepen until they kiss the mighty ocean.

As we see the inspired singer glancing both backward and forward – going back in thought to the time when he was cast upon God’s care at birth; and acknowledging that God has taught him from his youth, and that He has enabled him to declare God’s wondrous works – we may also make the same retrospect. As we muse upon all that the Lord has been to us, we may be assured that He will not forsake the work of His own hands! (Ps. 138:8) His deliverances will give us reason for endless praise, even when our eyes are closing and our heart waxes feeble in death.

But let us not forget to also think of those who are following us! Let us see to it that we leave behind some record of Jehovah’s righteousness and salvation. Let us place a flaming torch in the hands of our children for them, in turn, to pass on to their sons and daughters! Let us show the Lord’s strength and power to those who are yet to be born.

Lord, we praise You for the assurance that we may look to You, and expect aid from You, whenever the enemies of our salvation surround us, and no matter what age in life we find ourselves in. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient for us, and that Your strength is made perfect in our weakness! Amen.

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