Sustainer of Seniors
(9) Do not cast me off in the time of old age. When my strength is spent, do not forsake me, (10) for my enemies speak against me, and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together (11) and say, “God has forsaken him. Pursue and seize him, for there is no one to deliver him.” (12) God, be not far from me. My God, make haste to help me! (13) May the adversaries of my soul be ashamed and consumed. May those who seek my hurt be covered with scorn and disgrace.
This segment contains only two repeated words, but they represent the essence of its message. The psalmist uses “forsake” first in an appeal to God not to abandon him as he grows older (vs. 9). He then repeats "forsake," quoting his enemies who are trying to discourage him with the taunt that God has, in fact, forsaken him (vs. 11). In response, the psalmist cries out to God, twice invoking his name, pleading with him to remain near and not to withhold his help (vs. 12).
In this segment's final verse, the author uses several synonyms to describe how he envisions God repaying his enemies for their verbal abuse. He prays that they would be both “ashamed and consumed...covered with scorn and disgrace” (vs. 13). While this sounds quite vindictive, the psalmist is actually anticipating Paul’s admonition in Romans: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).
I. Do not forsake me in old age. (9-11)
II. Help me by shaming those who mock me. (12 & 13)
Instead of forsaking us when we grow old, God has promised to sustain us and shame our enemies.
While growing old is not for the faint of heart, most would agree that aging is better than the alternative, having life cut short by accident or illness. None of us can know for sure what we will face as we age, but we can decide ahead of time to do everything in our power to walk closely with God through the process. Hopefully, we will never face enemies as intimidating as those confronted by the author of Psalm 71. Those adversaries mocked him and tried to unnerve him with taunts that God had forsaken him. His response was to draw near to God, praying for the strength and sustenance to face such opposition.
Walking by faith is intended to be a lifelong experience. As believers grow older, the more subtle and difficult the opposition may become and the more demanding the walk of faith may sometimes seem. We must never allow ourselves to reach the place where we let down our guard, feel that we have arrived, or rest on past victories. While we may retire from our careers, we must never retire from our walk with God. The older we grow, the more we need to strive for depth and intimacy in our relationship with our creator and sustainer. If we make “God, be not far from me” (vs. 12) our constant prayer, we will be able to face each day with the assurance that he will always be there to sustain and guide us just he promised an aging Joshua: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5).