Tuesday, October 25, 2022

2022.10.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 71:1–13

Read Psalm 71:1–13

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the psalmist put in the Lord (Psalm 71:1)? What does he ask not to happen? What four things does he ask the Lord to do for him in Psalm 71:2? What does he ask God to be for him in Psalm 71:3a? What does he say that God is to him in verse 3d? What does the psalmist say he will do in verse 3b? What does he say God has given in verse 3c? What does he ask God to do for him in Psalm 71:4? What three things does he call his attacker? What is the Lord Yahweh to the psalmist (Psalm 71:5)? Since when? What had God done for him, since when (Psalm 71:6a–b)? How does the psalmist respond (verse 6c)? How have people responded to the psalmist’s distress (Psalm 71:7a)? But what is God to him (verse 7b)? With what two things will his mouth be filled (Psalm 71:8)? What does he ask God not to do (Psalm 71:9a)? When? What else to do (verse 9b)? When? Who else are doing what to the psalmist (Psalm 71:10a)? What are they doing to him (verse 10b)? What are they doing with each other? What do those enemies say has happened to the psalmist (Psalm 71:11a)? What do they think they are therefore free to do (verse 11b)? What does the psalmist ask God not to do in Psalm 71:12a? What does he ask God to do (verse 12b)? What does he ask God to do to the enemies in Psalm 71:13a? In verse 13c? What two ways does he describe him (verse 13b, d)?

How do older believers pray when under serious threat and attack? Psalm 71:1–13 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen  verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that those who have learned, by both doctrine and experience, that the Lord is their strong refuge resort to Him all the more in old age.  

There is no superscript for this Psalm. As is often the case, this is because it continues the thought or theme from the previous Psalm (70). The psalmist is under attack and crying out to God not only that He would deliver him (Psalm 71:2, 4,Psalm 71:4 Psalm 71:12) and be his refuge (Psalm 71:3Psalm 71:5), but also that He would put to shame the enemy (Psalm 71:13). Putting the enemy to shame in verse 13 dovetails with the psalmist’s plea for himself in Psalm 71:1.

Trouble in old age. The difference here is that the psalmist is now elderly (Psalm 71:9). It is his time of old age, when his strength is failing. But it is earthly-minded to think that the believer is at greater disadvantage now than before. For God has not declined with age. God’s strength is not diminished. The refuge, help, and deliverance of the believer is as strong as ever.

Help from the womb. One way to remember that our former youth was not our strength is to follow that line of thinking a little further back than our early twenties or late teens. The holy logic here is that when he was in the womb (Psalm 71:6a, more literally), the Lord was making him to stand—so that he was only brought out of the belly when the Lord did it (verse 6b).

Remember when you were young and strong? Then remember instead when you were younger and even more helpless than now! In particular, remember who your God is. At that time, He was the God who saves you through no actions of your own. But over time, you learned that He is pleased to deliver by inclining His ear to our cries (Psalm 71:2). And, you learned that He is pleased to deliver through our continual turning to Him (Psalm 71:3). 

But He was delivering you before you learned to cry and before you learned to turn. The crying and turning themselves were things that His grace taught your heart to do!

Praise in youth, old age—continually. This brings us at last to the purpose of all this sustaining and delivering: displaying the Lord’s praiseworthiness. And the purpose of all this teaching our mouths to cry and hearts to turn: teaching the same mouths and hearts to praise.

What is the outcome of being sustained even from the womb (Psalm 71:6a–b)? “My praise is continually of You” (verse 6c). What is the desired outcome of deliverance from the current situation (Psalm 71:7)? “Let my mouth be filled with Your praise, Your glory all the day” (Psalm 71:8).

Suddenly, we have a new understanding of the troubles (and even attacks) in old age: they are the backdrop for new displays of continued faithfulness and thus the provocation for renewed response of thankful praise. The attackers’ temporary success will turn to being confounded and consumed.

What troubles/attacks are you under? What life-long experience since the womb does this continue? What habits and practices in your life show a right response? How long should this continue?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You sustained us from our mothers’ wombs! All our lives long, You have inclined Your ear to our pleas for help; incline Your ear now to the praise of our mouths. You taught our hearts to turn to You continually for help. Now, teach our hearts to keep turning to You in praise, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP71B “Do Not Forsake Me in Old Age” or TPH71 “In You, Lord, I Take Refuge”

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