June 29 2023
Today, Thursday June 29
“The Prayer of The Aged Believer”
“In You, O LORD, I put my trust; Let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; Incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be my strong refuge, To which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.”
Psalm 71 does not have a title that tells us who is the human writer. We have already studied five other previous Psalms without a title, which are nevertheless, as complete as those which bear them. Some believe that it is a continuation of Psalm 70, which is ascribed to David. So, it is possible that David could have written it. It is the song of a very old man (vv. 9, 18). David may have penned this song during the Adonijah rebellion. His troubles pursued him almost to the grave.
Others have suggested that the Psalm was written by the prophet Samuel who was David’s mentor and friend. But there's another possibility. Based on other historical writings, some believe it might have been written by the prophet Jeremiah. Honestly, we can’t say who wrote it, but for sure it was written by a believer who had enemies and needed the Lord's help and protection (vv. 4, 10, 13, 24).
From the Psalm itself we learn that the writer wanted to end well. From birth he had been sustained by the Lord (v. 6), and in his youth he had been taught by the Lord (v. 17). He may have been one of the many temple musicians assigned to praise God in the sanctuary day and night (vv. 22-24; 134:1). Whoever he was, we will see that he made four affirmations about the Lord and the help He gives to those who call on him and trust him.
Psalm 71 is a song of old age and suits all those who, growing older in Christ, find themselves as much beset by difficulties and trials in life's later years as they were when they possessed the full strength of youth. I never dreamed that one day I would be considered a “senior citizen” with white hair, facing all the challenges of old age. But here I am! And I can assure you that growing old is not for wimps! I’ve often said in recent years that I now realize why we need to retire in our sixties. We need more time to go to the emergency room and the doctor’s offices. For sure Psalm 71 is my Psalm!
Spurgeon called Psalm 71, “The Prayer of The Aged Believer”, who, in holy confidence of faith, strengthened by a long and remarkable experience, pleads against his enemies, and asks further blessings for himself. Anticipating a gracious reply, he promises to magnify the Lord exceedingly. Spurgeon breaks down the Psalm this way:
The first four verses 1-4, are faith's cry for help; verses 5-8 are a testimony of experience. From Psalms 71:9-13, the aged saint pleads against his foes, and then in verses 14-16 he rejoices in hope. He returns to prayer again in verses 17-18, and then repeats the confident hopes which cheered his soul in verses 19-21. He concludes the Psalm, verses 22-24, with the promise of abounding in thanksgiving. Throughout, this Psalm may be regarded as the utterance of an “old man” struggling, but at the same time he has unstaggering faith.
Interestingly, the first three verses are adapted from Psalm 31:1-3, which was a perfectly legitimate practice among psalmists. This writer also borrowed from Psalms 22, 31, 35, and 40, to name just a few of his sources. If the author was indeed a temple musician, his mind and heart would have been filled with the Psalms that he had sung in the sanctuary day after day. He asked the Lord to protect and deliver him so that he might remain true to the faith and not be ashamed (1 John 2:28).
During the decadent years of the kingdom of Judah, some of the rulers promoted worshiping idols along with the worship of Jehovah and pressured the Levites to compromise. The writer didn't want to run away and hide from life but desired to receive the strength he needed to face life with its challenges. He knew the Lord was his habitation (Psalm 90:1) and his help.
"Righteousness" is mentioned five times in the psalm (vv. 2, 15, 16, 19, 24) and refers not only to one of God's attributes but also to His faithfulness in keeping His word. A righteous God is active in helping His people in their times of need. God issues the command and the deed is done (v. 3; Psalm 33:9; 44:4; 68:28). His people can always come to Him (v. 3; Heb. 10:19-25), always praise Him (vv. 6, 8, 15, 24), and always hope in Him (v. 14). God never fails.
Whatever age we might be, we can always trust the Lord to take care of us!