Psalm 71

Psalm 71
Pastor David Groendyk

We find in this psalm a plea from the psalmist for God to be their God throughout their whole life. The author is clearly looking both backwards to his youth (vv. 5–6, 17) and forwards to old age (vv. 9, 18). In the midst of whatever current, unspecified danger the author is facing, he’s pleading with God not to abandon him later in life, thus giving his enemies the victory over him. Moreover, we see the spiritual liveliness of the author in that he is always looking for new ways to praise God and tell of his wonderful deeds to other people.

First, let’s think about the “lifelong” theme in this psalm. Whether you’re a youth, a senior, or anything in between, this psalm is relevant to you. Especially in the times of life where we see our own strength slipping away (v. 9), we’re called to reflect on what God has done for us, lean even more on his strength, and respond with faithfulness to him. Even from before we’re born, we’ve already been dependent on God for life and salvation; and from our earliest days, we must be taught to trust God, put our hope in him, and praise him for everything he’s done. And the older we get, the more we begin to realize that God’s deeds of salvation are numerically too great to comprehend every single day (v. 15). It reminds me of that great quote from John Piper: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” The older we get, the more we realize God is doing an innumerable amount of things in our lives to sanctify us and draw us closer to him. It’s that reality that the psalmist uses to fuel his prayer for rescue currently. “Lord, you’ve done so much for me in the past. Don’t fail me now. Continue to be my rock and my refuge even now. I’ve trusted you for so long. Don’t let me stop trusting you now.” As time marches on, God continues to show his steadfast love and greatness to us by not forsaking us, and we continue to show that he is worthy to be trusted as we worship him. As the hymn goes, “E’en down to old age all my people shall prove / my sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love // and when hoary [gray] hairs shall their temples adorn / like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.”

Next, as usual, God’s wonderful acts of providence and deliverance are never meant to terminate with the deliver-ee. The psalmist here is looking for opportunities to spread God’s fame outward. On a personal level, he wants to be able to praise God “more and more” (v. 14). He wants to grow in his love and appreciation for God. More than that, though not explicitly stated, he desires to tell his fellow Israelites about the greatness of God when they gather together for worship (vv. 15–16). He wants to encourage and build up the faith and spiritual vitality of other believers. More than that, the psalmist sees it as his responsibility or goal to tell the next generation of God’s saving power (v. 18). He does not want to die until he’s had the chance to tell his children and grandchildren about his God. We, as Christians, must be about the business of spreading God’s fame and glory in our own hearts and to other people. If the mission of the church is to make disciples of every nation (Matt. 28:19), then, in a sense, one measure of the spiritual health of an individual church or an individual Christian is how much they desire to see God’s gospel grow and spread. Spend some time thinking about these three spheres of increasing God’s glory and fame: 1) deepening your own personal worship, 2) encouraging and building up fellow believers, and 3) witnessing to your children and grandchildren. How can you grow in each of these three spheres?

God’s faithfulness extends over your entire lifetime. There is not a moment that he ever lean ever more heavily on him and learn to spread his praise abroad.