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Old, Wise, and Desperately in Need of God

Old, Wise, and Desperately in Need of God
Psalm 71:1–24
Sometimes we expect that we’ll naturally grow in faith as we grow older. We tend to see elderly people as those who have been molded and shaped by life—rock-solid in their faith and untapped sources of wisdom. That, or we speed around them in the grocery aisle, blissfully disengaged with the reality that our bodies, too, will slow down and endure pain.
While the psalmist seems to express a shadow of both these perspectives in Psa 71, neither of them is complete. Adopting the point of view of an elderly person, he reflects on his life. His prayer to God shows us that maturing in faith isn’t automatic.
The elderly man is respected by others, but he doesn’t trust in the honor that some ascribe to him. He knows that Yahweh is the source of his strength, and he praises Him continually: “I have become a wonder to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, with your glory all the day” (Psa 71:7).
Perhaps forsaken or looked down on by others, he makes a request for God’s presence: “Do not cast me away in the time of old age” and “even when I am old and gray, O God, do not abandon me” (Psa 71:9, 19). He continues to request God’s nearness: “O God, do not be far from me. My God, hurry to help me” (Psa 71:12).
Perhaps most poignant is the intensity of the psalmist’s trust in God. Even in his old age, though he has “leaned from birth” upon God, he can’t place his trust in his past years of faithfulness (Psa 71:6). His “praise is of [God] continually” (Psa 71:6). He also feels a responsibility to pass on the testimony of God’s works: “I will come in to tell the mighty deeds of Lord Yahweh. I will make known your righteousness, yours only” (Psa 71:16).

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