Throughout September 2022, I managed to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. For December 2022, I attempted to pick up the discipline. I got part-way through that month, and so after a long hiatus, am determined to get going. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
On the 11th of November 2023, here’s Psalm 71:
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.
6 From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
7 I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
9 Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue him and seize him,
for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
may those who want to harm me
be covered with scorn and disgrace.
14 As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.
22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.
What is this Psalm about?
Psalm 71 is a beautiful glimpse into the faith of someone who has known and followed God for a long life – ‘since my youth’ (v. 5). It is an honest Psalm, not sugar-coating the realities of life, but instead choosing to praise God, even in what seems to perhaps be a newly difficult situation.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
The God we learn about in Psalm 71 is one who has been a refuge for a lifetime (v. 1), a safe place and fortress to always run to (v. 3). As well as that reliable and static vision of God, there is also the dynamism of deliverance (v. 4), deeds/acts (v. 15/16/17, 18), the promise of restoration (v. 20), comfort (v. 21) and more. The God of Psalm 71 is splendid (v. 8), and worthy of worship. Verse 22 offers us a specific title or name, ‘Holy one of Israel’, in tandem with the personal ‘my God’.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
This Psalm offers a recurring challenge and encouragement – God is with us even in trials, is involved in trials, and remains worthy of worship. The extra note about the Psalmist here having followed God since they were young offering two things, I think. Firstly, an encouargement to pray for the perseverance of older saints, and second to pray for the conversion and discipleship of the young. Would that this psalm would be a familiar refrain for saints in their older days!
A prayer drawn from Psalm 71
Lord, would you persevere with me, and help me to persevere with you. Would I be able to pray, at the end of my days, ‘My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I whom you have delivered. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long’. Amen!