Psalm 71 (1)In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. (2)In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. (3)Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. (4)Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel. (5)For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. (6)From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. (7)I have become a sign to many; you are my strong refuge. (8)My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. (9)Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. (10)For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. (11)They say, "God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him." (12)Do not be far from me, my God; come quickly, God, to help me. (13)May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. (14)As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. (15)My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long--though I know not how to relate them all. (16)I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. (17)Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. (18)Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. (19)Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? (20)Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. (21)You will increase my honor and comfort me once more. (22)I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. (23)My lips shall shout for joy when I sing praise to you--I whom you have delivered. (24)My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.
Titled: Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent (ESV), God the Rock of Salvation (NKJV).
Here are titles given by Bible scholars: The Prayer Of An Old Man For Deliverance (Coffman). The Prayer Of The Aged Believer (Spurgeon). Older In Years, Strong In Faith (Guzik).
Although this psalm is not signed, scholars believe David probably wrote it. One commentator points out that twenty three lines are taken from other Davidic Psalms and goes on to say that only that particular author would quote himself that often rather than write his own words. However, since God included this psalm in His book without a signature, that is all we will discuss it.
There is no title to this Psalm, and hence some conjecture that Psalm 70 is intended to be a prelude to it, and has been broken off from it. Such imaginings have no value to us. We have already met with five Psalms without title, which are, nevertheless, as complete as those which bear them.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
O LORD, I have come to you for protection; don't let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of cruel oppressors. Psalm 71:1-4 NLT
The author of this psalm knows the faithfulness of God, and he calls upon those very promises during a trial of some kind. He opens this song calling upon YHWH, Jehovah, the covenant name of God, always written all capitals in English translations of the Bible. That name was where the author placed his faith and his hope for rescue. And in this name, the author was confident.
In what name are you confident?
You have given the command to save me: Confident that it was God’s will, even His command, the psalmist prayed with full confidence that God would be his rock and his fortress.David Guzik, pastor, http://www.enduringword.com
For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth. By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother's womb. My praise shall be continually of You. I have become as a wonder to many, but You are my strong refuge. Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day. Psalm 71:5-8 NKJV
Verse five is so beautiful. Here are a couple of translations.
For thou art my hope, O Lord Jehovah: thou art my trust from my youth. ASV For You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth. NASB1995 For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. NIV
You are my hope, O Lord GOD: the Psalmist proclaimed his hope and trust in Adonai Yahweh, the Master and covenant God of Israel. It wasn’t just that his hope was in Yahweh; He was his hope.David Guzik, pastor, http://www.enduringword.com
As we get older, we have more opportunity to reflect on God’s faithfulness. The author could look back and see God’s hand upon his life from even before birth. And because of God’s faithfulness upon his life, he would choose to praise Him all day long and for the rest of his life.
And now, in my old age, don't set me aside. Don't abandon me when my strength is failing. For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me. They say, "God has abandoned him. Let's go and get him, for no one will help him now." O God, don't stay away. My God, please hurry to help me. Bring disgrace and destruction on my accusers. Humiliate and shame those who want to harm me. Psalm 71:9-13 NLT
The psalmist knew the faithfulness of God through his younger years and now asked that God continue that faithfulness in his old age and as his strength fails. He knew that man’s strength diminishes with old age, but God’s strength does not.David Guzik, pastor, http://www.enduringword.com
God knows His children before they are born. He walks beside them throughout their lives and does not abandon them as their bodies grow old and begin to fail. It is a sad reality to read that life didn’t ease for this author. Trials and worries don’t go away as we age. But God’s faithfulness never wavers. May we be able to look back at all the times God was faithful in our lives and cry these same words, “be faithful again Lord!”
I will be your God throughout your lifetime--until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4 NLT
“God has forsaken him; pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him.” (NKJV)
O bitter taunt! There is no worse arrow than all the quivers of hell. Our Lord felt this barbed shaft, and it is no marvel if his disciples feel the same. Were this exclamation the truth, if it were indeed an ill day for us; but, glory be to God, it is a barefaced lie.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834–1892
But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more. I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words. I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign LORD. I will tell everyone that you alone are just. Psalm 71:14-16 NLT
Even as he ages and even if the Lord does not appear, the author will continue to speak about the wonders of God. He pledges here to tell about God’s faithfulness and righteousness. He will speak about God’s saving power and His mighty deeds. Even if the trials continue, he will praise the Lord.
The author does not despair or give up. He comes to realize that growing older does not give a believer an excuse to stop praising. If anything, we should praise louder because we have seen more of God’s faithfulness. The tasks the Lord have given us may change as we get older, but He still gives them. We cannot stop sharing our faith to the next generation. We cannot stop standing up for what’s right, upon God’s Truths. We cannot stop loving others in the name of the Lord.
Maybe our strength fails, our memory lapses, but God’s doesn’t.
The holy faith of the persecuted saint comes to the front in these three verses. But I will hope continually. When I cannot rejoice in what I have, I will look forward to what shall be mine, and will still rejoice.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Oh God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Psalm 71:17-18 NLT
The author of this psalm has seen blessing from the Lord throughout his life, and he pledges to share them. And oh, has he. Nearly three millennia have passed and we are still learning from his words.
The Psalter is the most beloved and popular part of the Old Testament; and Christians of all generations have found its inspiring pages a never-failing source of encouragement, strength, and sacred motivation.James Burton Coffman, pastor & Bible scholar, 1905-2006
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again. Then I will praise you with music on the harp, because you are faithful to your promises, O my God. I will sing praises to you with a lyre, O Holy One of Israel. I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me. I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long, for everyone who tried to hurt me has been shamed and humiliated. Psalm 71:19-24 NLT
I love that the Psalmist, even claiming his old age, still expects God to do great things for him. “You will restore me…then I will praise you.” He will still sing and shout and play music on instruments for the Lord. He will still tell others about what God has done.
Can we say the same? As life wears and tears us down, can we still make this promise to the Lord?
Some Bible scholars comment on the name used for God in verse 22: “O Holy One of Israel.”
Unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel. Here is a new name, and, as it were, a new song. The Holy One of Israel is at once a lofty and an endearing name, full of teaching. Let us resolve, by all means with our power, to honour him. Here is the final vow of praise.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
O Holy One of Israel: Kidner notes that this title for God is uncommon outside the Book of Isaiah and that it describes God as “One in which ‘unapproachable light’ and covenant-love meet together.”Kidner (cited by David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com)
The author closes in great faith that God will redeem him, that God will come to his rescue. And upon that rescue and even prior, the author will sing and play music; he will shout for joy, and he will speak of God’s goodness and faithfulness all day long.
May we all receive a boost of faith to do the same today.
Father in heaven, thank you for this beautiful psalm. Thank you for your word that teaches us, inspires us, and fills us with hope and peace. Strengthen us today to walk in faith and trust in your faithfulness. Thank you for your promises and for your love throughout time and today. Amen.