An Old Man Talks to God

Now David is an old man, and in Psalm 71 David once again is pleading with God.

David is in trouble.  Again.  One more time he is being pursued by those who want his throat and his throne.  It’s a nasty business, this being king of Israel. To be fair, David never asked for the job. He was out taking care of the sheep when God insisted that David be anointed king.  Wouldn’t one of his brothers do? No, it had to be David.

Now David is an old man, and in Psalm 71 David once again is pleading with God. Many commentaries believe the psalm describes the circumstances when David was fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom, the story of which is told in the book of 2 Samuel. But even if David is not the author, the psalm poignantly tells of the faith of an elder with a good memory. 

To also be fair, David’s problems were often his own doing. There was that whole Bathsheba thing when David lusted then tried to cover up that sin with murder. There was David’s looking the other way when one of his sons raped his half-sister, which has brought him to his present predicament.

To also be fair, David’s problems were often his own doing.

Even so, David dares to call upon God for mercy. And what he remembers now, in his old age and failing strength, is that God has sustained him all his life. God has been his hope and confidence since he was young, his strength from his birth: For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from my birth (vss 5-6).

His task, as he sees it from this vantage point of having sinned and been forgiven, of having failed and been rescued, is to proclaim the faithfulness of God that he has witnessed. “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long,” he promises. (vs 15).

Just when we think the job is finished, whether we are of old age or not; just when we think we are too sinful to speak for God; just when we are giving up hope, our God calls us to continue to proclaim God’s presence among us and favor towards us. 

Today read Psalm 71. Remember and rejoice. Then tell someone.  

Psalm 71

A Prayer for Lifelong Protection and Help

1 In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
    incline your ear to me and save me.
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
    a strong fortress, to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.

4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
    my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
    it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

7 I have been like a portent to many,
    but you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
    and with your glory all day long.
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
    do not forsake me when my strength is spent.
10 For my enemies speak concerning me,
    and those who watch for my life consult together.
11 They say, “Pursue and seize that person
    whom God has forsaken,
    for there is no one to deliver.”

12 O God, do not be far from me;
    O my God, make haste to help me!
13 Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
    let those who seek to hurt me
    be covered with scorn and disgrace.
14 But I will hope continually,
    and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all day long,
    though their number is past my knowledge.
16 I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God,
    I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.

17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might
    to all the generations to come.
 
19 Your power and your righteousness, O God,
    reach the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
    O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my honor,
    and comfort me once again.

22 I will also praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
    O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praises to you;
    my soul also, which you have rescued.
24 All day long my tongue will talk of your righteous help,
for those who tried to do me harm
    have been put to shame, and disgraced.

Find all of the lectionary readings for Tuesday in Holy Week here. 

Marjorie George serves the Diocese of West Texas as a consultant for Adult Christian Formation. Reach her at marjorie.george@dwtx.org.  Or leave a reply below.

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