This summer in the Psalms we have seen marvelous portraits of our great God and Savior as penned by men of true faith. Many of the psalms we have looked at were descriptive of personal faith in God. This past week, Eric Twisselmann led us through Psalm 46, a corporate declaration of faith. All Israel, all God’s people, can testify that whatever they may be facing, whatever they fear most, when worst comes to worst in this world, they are completely secure in God. Here and in many other passages in scripture, God is the refuge, the fortress, the rock which cannot be moved. We are challenged individually as well as the in whole body of believers to trust. We are called let go of fear and worry and find our true security only in Him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6.
This week, we will see another beautiful picture of this sort of faith. Kenny Clark has chosen Psalm 71 for us. Charles Spurgeon writes of this psalm: “We have here THE PRAYER OF THE AGED BELIEVER, who, in holy confidence of faith, strengthened by a long and remarkable experience, pleads against his enemies, and asks further blessings for himself. Anticipating a gracious replay, he promises to praise the Lord exceedingly.” Many believe this psalm depicts the time toward the end of David’s life when his son Absalom chased him seeking his life. Many of his countrymen had turned against him as well. Psalm 71 is a prayer in which David lays all his fears at God’s feet while continuing to praise and thank Him for all His care all David’s life.
Read Psalm 71. Look at the first 4 verses. Where is the psalmist’s trust? Look at the tone of these verses. Can you sense that there might be some fear behind the declarations? Spurgeon paraphrases verse 2b: “Stoop to my feebleness and hear my faint whispers.” Conscious of his own vulnerability, he remembers that his Redeemer never gets old or tired or weak, even if David does. God will be there in whatever straits David may find himself and will care for him. When are you most vulnerable to fear and worry? What might you tell yourself about God to strengthen your faith in those moments? Are you dealing with things no human agency can fix? Take a moment and ask God to help you remember His promises toward you and to let His peace come over you. David does such remembering throughout Psalm 71.
Verses 5 and 6 are about remembering. The psalmist doesn’t talk about the great big miracles God had done. He doesn’t speak of giants or slaying ten thousands or staying safe so long from mad Saul. He sings of the miracles of normal birth and of growing in a relationship with His God. How blessed to be able to say that God has been your confidence since your youth! If this is true for you, rejoice and praise Him, thank Him every day. For some of us, we can thank Him especially for each day we have known Him, because we remember the emptiness, loneliness, futility and hopelessness of years when we did not know Him. The wonder of knowing Him is common to all believers, and as a common thing can be disregarded. Take a moment and thank Him for your relationship with Him and your place in His kingdom. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remember to thank Him more often for this marvelous gift. David’s mouth is filled with praise all day long. May we all grow in our ability to praise our Great God!
Verse 7 refers to the psalmist’s being a portent, a wonder, a marvel to many. While we wonder at David in a good way, this verse looks at how the world sees a man of true faith. It might be thought of: “What is wrong with this guy? Why is he still trusting in his God? Look at the mess he’s in!” Verses 10 and 11 state this idea clearly. “Let’s get him, since God won’t help him anymore! “ Read Matthew 27:43, where a similar taunt was aimed at our Lord. You can read in 2 Samuel 18 that they were very wrong about David and in Matthew 28 that they were wrong about our Lord. God had not forsaken David or Jesus and He will not forsake us. Have people in your family or workplace or anywhere else tried to make you feel a fool for believing in Christ? Have their arrows ever found a sore spot? All of us face some sort of opposition to our faith. Read 2 Timothy 1:12. No one in scripture other than our Lord Jesus faced more opposition than Paul. He fought back by remembering who His God is. Again, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us remember all the promises made to believers and the trustworthiness of the One who made them. Then hold up your shield of faith and let it extinguish the spiteful fiery darts of everyone who attacks.
David asks that his enemies be ashamed and that God would save him out of their hands. Why? David has been praising God since his youth. He wants to keep doing it. Look at verse 15. He has so much to praise God for, he must do so all day and still won’t be able to tell the whole story. He does not know the number of God’s deeds of salvation. Think about what you know of all that God has done to bring about your salvation. Go back to Eden and start there. Think through Israel’s history all the way to Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. Then look at what it took for His salvation to come to you personally. Can you count the necessary deeds? What will we learn when we are with Him and can see all He has done? No wonder David can sing so powerfully. No wonder he thinks it so important to keep on praising.
In verse 18, we see another reason David asks God to keep him alive: that he may teach the next generation what he has learned about God, so that they may know Him and praise Him too. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10. David knew what works he was to do and earnestly desired to do them. What might the Lord have prepared for you to do? Have you found it? Are you afraid to try something? Remember that we have the Holy Spirit to lead us to the right works and empower us to do them. Like anything worthwhile, service can take a little time to become confident in. Ask His help and step out. Then we can confidently praise Him for letting us little creatures help in His work!
David has praised God throughout this psalm. At the end, he turns up the volume and promises more and more praise, anticipating his rescue once again. After a life of long relationship with the Living God all his experience, expectations, desires resolve to a single focus: praising God with everything he is, has and does. Where are we on our journeys right now? What seems to be our main focus? Is it on something that will last? Or is it on something which will surely pass away? At the end of his God-focused life, David is prepared for what his life eternal would be, endless praise.
Please pray for Kenny Clark as he prepares to help us learn the life-changing lessons of this psalm. Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts and help us adjust our focus to what will never pass away. Let it be our earnest desire to look forward to praising our Great God and Savior alongside David and a throng of believers forever. In anticipation, let our lips shout for joy! Amen and amen!
Resources: Spurgeon, Treasury of David, (This website is often unavailable—Suggest the alternate below. It takes you to Verse 1 of Psalm 71 with links to the next verse.)
Bible Gateway, dozens of bible translations, www.biblegateway.com
- Vernon McGee, Psalms Volume II, Thru the Bible Books, Pasadena, CA
MP3s and other materials available at www.ttb.org
Isaac Watts hymn on Psalm 71