Friday, September 11, 2020

Reflections on Psalm 71

 Psalms 71:8-10 (ESV)

[8] My mouth is filled with your praise,

and with your glory all the day.

[9] Do not cast me off in the time of old age;

forsake me not when my strength is spent.

[10] For my enemies speak concerning me;

those who watch for my life consult together


One of my students shared a list of the top six things people fear. One of the six is a fear of old age and death. Yet these come to us all. Death is inevitable. Old age is inevitable unless death comes early. We fear that which must come to us all. The Psalmist starts Psalm 71 with these words, “In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!” (Ps 71:1). As many have said, “Old age is not for wimps,” but my fear is not old age as much as the fear that in my old age I might shame God.


In our youth everything seems possible. As we age we realize that we have limits. The Psalmist seems to have the same fear. Psalms 71:18 says, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” As we age, many talk about leaving a legacy. We talk about how we want to be remembered. When I was young I wanted to be remembered as one who tried to do what is right. That’s not a bad legacy. But the Psalmist was not concerned about how he would be remembered. He was concerned that the next generation hear about the might and power of God.


Maybe we should be less concerned about our legacy, and more concerned about God’s legacy. I recently watched a television show hosted by Bear Grylls called World’s Toughest Race. It ran over 400 miles of some of Fiji’s toughest terrain. One of the contestants has been running races like that for much of his life. Now he has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s, but he ran the race with his son. His biggest concern was that his grandchildren would know what kind of person he was. I get that. We all want to leave a piece of ourselves behind in our grandchildren. But how much better if our hearts desire is to leave a clear vision of God to our grandchildren?


Maybe I never saw the old age reference in these verses before, or maybe they just never stood out to me like they do now. But the Psalmist is facing one of the top six fears we all have, old age and death. His heart is not to be remembered, but to make sure his grandchildren know God. May that be my heart as well.


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