Psalm 71 Princeton Christian Church 13 September 2020
Respect For The Aged Day – AKA Grandparents Day – In Japan the day is observed as Respect for the Aged Day
I understand that today is Grandparents Day. So, we are going to look at the life of a man in his elderly years. Psalm 71 is authored by David. Remember, he was known as a man after God’s own heart. And this Psalm is based on David’s life as an elderly man.
We will look at some identifying marks of this godly old man on a day set aside for the older generation.
Jeanne Calment, (1875-1999_when she was 120 years, was the oldest living human whose birth date could be authenticated. At that time someone asked her to describe her vision for the future. She her vision was “very brief.” She did live another 4 years before her death at 124. When a reporter asked the birthday girl what she likes best about being 120 years old, she answered, “Well, there’s no peer pressure.”
Psalm 71 has a lot to say to us about aging and the aged. Let’s begin with Psalm 71:10-13.
The story of David is really quite an exciting story. If you like to read adventurous stories the life of David should keep your interest. It certainly won’t put you to sleep. He grew up as a shepherd boy - having to fend off bears and lions from a bunch of sheep in his younger teenage years. He was spending cold nights out on his own and risking his life to take care of a bunch of sheep.
Things got better for him when he went and fought a huge Philistine enemy soldier named Goliath and slew him with one stone thrown from his slingshot. He went on to become a great warrior and fighter for King Saul’s army. Samuel even anointed him to be the next king of Israel.
In the prime of his life, after all the successes, he went through some very difficult times. The Israelites made a song up about David, that he killed tens of thousands, while Saul only killed thousands. That irritated King Saul. So he began to plot a way to get rid of David. Even though David was loyal to Saul, he had to spend a majority of his early years on the run from King Saul.
Some years after Saul died, David became king of Israel. Things were going great. Then, David committed a terrible sin by committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband Uriah murdered. God used Nathan, the prophet to bring David’s sin to his attention. In 2 Samuel 12:10 we read Nathan’s prophesy, that is, God’s word, to David. “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
And that is exactly what happened. The sword didn’t depart from his house. Soon afterward his infant son died. Then began a series of evil behaviors among David’s children. One of his daughters was raped by her half- brother - David’s son - Ammon. This enraged David’s son Absalom, who had Amnon put to death. Then Absalom was banished for the kingdom for quite some time. When Absalom was finally allowed back, he ended up trying to usurp David’s kingdom. Absalom was a handsome kid and David loved him dearly. But when he was riding through the forest fighting against his father David, his hair got stuck in a tree. While he was hanging from the tree, one of David’s generals, Joab, stabbed Absalom to death. This broke David’s heart.
As time went on, and David got older, his military power began to slip away. Several times he had run-ins with General Joab and his brothers, and he was not powerful enough to do anything with them. By the end of his life, Scriptures show that David was bed ridden and his circulation was so bad that he just couldn’t keep warm. He needed someone to lay with him to keep him somewhat comfortable.
At one point another son rebelled against David. Adonijah tried to remove his father and claim the kingdom as his own. Because David had planned to hand his kingdom over to Solomon, this was a clear case of jealousy among brothers. Knowing he and Bathsheba and Solomon were in danger, David realized that there was only one person who could help him in his old age. And that person was GOD. If you want to read the rest of the story, go enjoy a good read this Lord’s Day afternoon in 1 Kings Chapters 1 and 2.
Proverbs 16:31 (NIV) tells us a bit about old age. “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” That son of David, Solomon wrote that and I believe he is talking about more than just hair. Most everyone’s hair turns gray, both the righteous and the wicked.
For the Christian, as we age, life should get sweeter as the days go by not more bitter. It is rare to find someone who ages well physically. Our bodies break down. If we are willing to face reality, we are all getting closer to death. That is our physical reality.
Likewise, spiritually speaking, some people age well; others do not. What makes the difference? It is all in the attitude!
In Psalm 71 we have the portrait of this godly old man, David .Let’s look at some identifying marks of David, this godly old man.
1. Look at His Faith
Psalm 71:1 – “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust.”
The old hymn says it is sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease, Just from Jesus simply taking life and rest, and joy and peace. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more!
2. Look at his prayers
Christians are to be a praying people. To be a Christian who doesn’t pray is to be like a living creature that doesn’t breath!
The Psalmist (David) learned this. Look at Psalm 71:2-4, focusing on verse 3 – “To which I can always go.” David says conversation with God to be a place where he was always welcome. He saw prayer to be talking to a friend. That is the same way we, as followers of Jesus Christ should approach prayer – as we are talking with a friend.
The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
3. Look at His experiences - Psalm 71:5-8 –
God has sustained him from his birth. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
He is a marvel. This word “marvel” has two meanings: It can mean he is a wonder (as in the KJV). Caleb, in the OT, is marching up the hill, defeating the giants at the age of 85. Now, that is a wonder!
The word “marvel” can also mean: a monstrous creature or a bad omen. The Christian, to the unspiritual world is an oddity that the unchristian world cannot comprehend. We are a wonder to be looked upon as strange or weird, and sometimes feared, and often hated. Few understand us and our lifestyle of devotion to someone we can’t see.
We are much like Jesus. While He was here on earth a few people were in awe of Him and His ministry and teaching. But, most were skeptical of his message and ministry. In the end Jesus Christ was hated. Jesus did cause wonder but it was not the wonder of admiration.
See 2 Corinthians 2:15-16V) – Paul says here, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”
4. Look at His Convictions - Psalm 71:14-16
Even after all the trials David endured in life he says he will hope continually. Hope will never be lost in David’s thinking. He will praise God continually. He will continue to preach the salvation of the Lord. He will always, without fail tell others about God’s goodness.
We, today, as Christians know, as David did, that God is worthy of our trust. The Word of God is true and powerful. Christianity is not a delusion, or some story made up by man. It is a reality. We must not be quiet about it. David said he would not be quiet about it Paul said much the same thing in Romans 1:16 (NIV) “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
David’s resolution was to stay alive long enough for one purpose – so that the children and generations coming after his death may know God and His wondrous deeds.
This is why Christian Grandparents are so valuable! I don’t know about yours, but my grandchildren and my grandchildren think pretty highly of me. Not bragging, just stating fact. I want them to know the Jesus I know and the God who gave His Son so that they may live forever in eternity with Him. That gives me (and you) a heavy responsibility to make every effort to teach them, by example and the Word the way of the Lord.
Some time ago, a report came out and it studied the faith of churched people. Basically, the report said that of people who are raised in church, when they get grown, 75% will leave the church for a time. Some will come back but most will never come back. Grandparents and elderly Christians need to be emphasizing the most important thing and that is Jesus Christ. Of course, that doesn’t relieve younger Christians of the same responsibilities.
Look at his Future - Psalm 71:9
Eventually we will all die. That is something we don’t want to think about. Certainly we don’t want to dwell on the fact. It seems to be a terrible thing.
.That very well-known verse from Psalm 23 reminds us that, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
We can gain comfort from Paul as he tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
And, in 1 Corinthians 6:14, we can rest in this: “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”
C. Many times we live in the past. We have precious memories. This is alright, and healthy for us to an extent, but we need to be thinking about our future. I’m not sure who wrote, or sang this song, but the words tell us something about what we can look forward to:
“Now I’m living in the days ahead. I’m already dancing on the streets of gold and I can’t stop celebrating in my soul.
I’m living in the days ahead. Nothing on earth could ever compare. Can’t wait for the day when I get there. When I see Jesus face to face, tell me what could be better?”
I have heard of a land on the far away strand ’Tis a beautiful home of the soul Built by Jesus on high, there we never shall die. ’Tis a land where we never grow old.
Today, you are either young, or younger, or you are old, or older. It doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you can look ahead to tomorrow, looking forward to seeing Jesus face to face, or is there doubt and uncertainty about your destination when comes your time to die.
Every day is a day of decision seeking an answer to the question. Am I ready to arrive at my judgment day?