“For you are my hope, Lord GOD,
my confidence from my youth.
I have leaned on you from birth;
you took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is always about you.
Don’t discard me in my old age.
As my strength fails, do not abandon me.
Psalm 71:5-6,9 CSB
Who can say that God has been their hope all the way from their youth until their old age? That was the case with David, as we can see from reading this Psalm today. He even goes as far as to say that God was with him even from the moment he was born. When he wrote these verses, David was obviously approaching his twilight years, but reading the Psalm you can see he was still being pursued by undesirable people, a common theme throughout his life. In verse 4 he wrote, ”Deliver me, my God, from the power of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and oppressive”.
In verses 17 and 18, the Psalmist wrote this: “God, you have taught me from my youth, and I still proclaim your wondrous works. Even while I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me, while I proclaim your power to another generation, your strength to all who are to come.” David wasn’t going to retire quietly. He wasn’t going to fade into oblivion, disappearing into the grave without completing his mission in life. And the one thing he mentioned was that he was going to ensure that the next generation knew about God’s power and strength. Not for David was an epitaph on a tombstone, nice words but largely unread and of little impact on those around him.
I’ve blogged before about the legacy we will leave when we cross the great divide. Although I was brought up in a Christian home and went to church with my parents, I was in my late twenties before I made a personal commitment for Christ. But there is one thing that I am confident of – I will be a follower of Christ for the rest of my life. Furthermore, being a closet Christian, someone who hides his light instead of being a beacon of hope and light in his community, is not for me. I recently heard a Sunday message about sharing our faith, and how important it is that we have our stories ready for the times when God wants us to share them. And also to be ready with the “Sinner’s Prayer”, for when we get the opportunity to lead someone to Christ. David was focused on sharing what he knew about God with the next generation, and asked God to be with him while he did it. We too must be focused on the mission God has given us. And He will be with us while we do His will. Note that sharing our story is not something we do at the end of our lives. Jesus didn’t say in Matthew 28, “Therefore [when you are a pensioner] go and make disciples of all nations…“. No – making disciples was an instruction Jesus left for all His followers, young and old. Sharing our stories will often be the start of the disciple-making process.
In verse 9 of this Psalm, David asks that God doesn’t abandon him in his old age, as his strength fails. He doesn’t necessarily mean physical strength, but mental strength as well. So many dear saints come to the end of their lives, blighted by illnesses such as dementia. The last few words of Matthew 28 read, “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age“. God will never abandon us, even when we are failing in our last days. And a new body is waiting for us in our future home. What a wonderful God He is.