Psalm 71 — Remembering God Helps — Reading the Psalms

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Psalm 71 – Remembering God Helps

1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust:
Let me never be ashamed.
2 Deliver me in thy righteousness, and rescue me:
Bow down thine ear unto me, and save me.
3 Be thou to me a rock of habitation, whereunto I may continually resort:
Thou hast given commandment to save me;
For thou art my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
5 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD:
Thou art my trust from my youth.
6 By thee have I been holden up from the womb:
Thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels:
My praise shall be continually of thee.
7 I am as a wonder unto many;
But thou art my strong refuge.
8 My mouth shall be filled with thy praise,
And with thy honour all the day.
9 Cast me not off in the time of old age;
Forsake me not when my strength faileth.
10 For mine enemies speak concerning me;
And they that watch for my soul take counsel together,
11 Saying, God hath forsaken him:
Pursue and take him; for there is none to deliver.
12 O God, be not far from me:
O my God, make haste to help me.
13 Let them be ashamed and consumed that are adversaries to my soul;
Let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually,
And will praise thee yet more and more.
15 My mouth shall tell of thy righteousness,
And of thy salvation all the day;
For I know not the numbers thereof
16 I will come with the mighty acts of the Lord GOD:
I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.
17 O God, thou hast taught me from my youth;
And hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
18 Yea, even when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not;
Until I have declared thy strength unto the next generation,
Thy might to every one that is to come.
19 Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high;
Thou who hast done great things,
O God, who is like unto thee?
20 Thou, which hast shewed us many and sore troubles,
Shalt quicken us again,
And shalt bring us up again from the depths of the earth.
21 Increase thou my greatness,
And turn again and comfort me.
22 I will also praise thee with the psaltery,
Even thy truth, O my God:
Unto thee will I sing praises with the harp,
O thou Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing praises unto thee;
And my soul, which thou hast redeemed.
24 My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long:
For they are ashamed, for they are confounded, that seek my hurt.

This psalm almost feels like a longer version of psalm 70, which we read in the previous episode. In particular, vs. 12-13 repeat some of the very same words and ideas: “make haste to help me”, “let them be ashamed and confounded that are adversaries”. What do you think about this kind of repetition in the psalms? As I read and reread these psalms I grow ever fond of repeated pleas for help. It is encouraging to read, over and over again, what I myself feel and need.

What jumped out in my reading today is the idea, “cast me not off in the time of my old age, forsake me not when my strength faileth”. It is not that I feel either old or young, but that the psalm recognizes changes in our strength . It acknowledges our ups and downs physically, and even admits the spiritual fallout that can occur. When we are weakened by circumstances, the weakness is real. It is harder for me to keep from hurting others when I myself feel hurt and pain. It is for this reason the confession of this psalm is so important and helpful. Let us, in our times of weaknesses, recognize our need and pray to God.

Thus, we continue the psalm by recounting the mighty works of God. In this we can find encouragement and hope. The psalm reveals that this work of remembrance, as well as sharing these stories with others, strengthens our weakened states. Vs. 18 even proclaims our wish that in old age we may still be given the energy and time to “declare thy strength unto the next generation”. How many generations ago was this psalm penned? What about your favorite hymn in worship? How many are blessed by these old favorites? Let us all join in this chain of remembrance and praise and help each new generation. It will help our hearts in the process.

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