Psalm 71 Growing Old God’s Way
Everyone says they want to live to a ripe old age. But as we grow older, we find things happen to our bodies like “furniture disease” (when your chest sags down to your drawers) and other maladies, like flatulence (which we blame on the dog), or snoring (what our mate does when we are trying to sleep).
As we age, stuff happens: friends die, we develop more aches and pains and generally have less money which we generously spend on doctors, pills and insurance deductibles- and hopefully on grandchildren.
Sometimes, as people get older, they feel less useful. It can feel like their life has lost meaning and purpose. If any of these things are true of you, read on, as this devotional is meant to encourage you.
Whoever wrote Psalm 71 (perhaps David) was an older person when he wrote it. He looked to God for help, encouragement and strength. He finds when he looks to God that he has reason to be glad and rejoice, even in his old age. His life found meaning and joy by praying to God, following His ways and looking for God’s leading and help through this journey called life.
He begins the psalm with a prayer: He writes (v.1) “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!” He prays that God would deliver him and save him (vv. 2, 4) and not cast him off (v. 9) or be far from him (v. 12).
He expresses his confidence and faith in God by talking with him. He looks to God for protection: (v. 5) “You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust.” He calls God his “rock” and his “fortress”.
Who do you look to for help as you get older? The Psalmist knows he needs God even more as he gets older (vv. 9, 18): “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent… So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me.”
God promises to be with you each step of life’s journey. So, go ahead, start talking to Him. You might wonder what to talk to God about.
The Psalm writer talks to God about some problems he was having: He talks about how he felt ashamed (v. 1) and had many troubles (vv. 7,20).
Shame is a feeling that there is something wrong with me. It is a feeling that I need to be fixed inside. Shame sometimes comes as we grow older as we remember some things that we have done which we regret. This can bring feelings of depression and low self-esteem. If you have these feelings, please look to God and ask for forgiveness for what you have done. The author of this psalm admits to having some of these feelings himself. What does he do? He asks God to help him and bring relief.
He admits (v.20) that he has been through “many troubles and calamities”. Please don’t think that just because you have problems or difficulties that God has left you or doesn’t care. Sometimes God allows troubles to show you He is there by teaching you to look to Him to help bring you through them.
It is good to bring all your thoughts and worries and cares to God in prayer. St. Peter encourages us to “cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” What problem or worry is on your mind right now? Try lifting it up in prayer to God.
Right after the psalmist mentions the troubles he has had he tells how God has brought him through all those problems and raised him up again. This causes him to give thanks to God.
This is why he ends the psalm with praises: He thanks God out loud because God has been righteous and faithful. God is trustworthy and never let him down. He is thankful for how God has redeemed him and cared for him all his life through. He ends the psalm saying, “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you.”
I encourage you to go about your day praising God. Sing out loud to Him and talk to Him. You might be thinking, if I start talking to God out loud someone might think I’m crazy! (Hmmm, don’t worry, I hate to break this to you, they already do 😊)
Begin the day with prayer, tell God your problems and live each day with a thankful heart praising God. You’ll find you feel happier and discover that your life has more meaning and purpose. Better to be grateful rather than grumpy. Be blessed and be a blessing to someone else today.