Hope and Wisdom by Lynne McCarthy
Observe The psalmist’s hope is in the Lord, right into his old age. We see three aspects of this hope:
Confidence: In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be put to shame (1), that is, be disappointed or disillusioned. God has always been his rock, his fortress to trust absolutely.
Contrition: He asks God not to forget him in his age and weakness: Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails (9).He still has enemies, so he prays, O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! (12). Vulnerable, he trusts God for strength.
Commitment: A lifetime of trials have not embittered him but have increased his faith and trust in God; we see this in the buoyancy of But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.(14) His declaration of God’s faithfulness reveals a lifetime of wonder: O God, you have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare your wondrous works (17). He follows with a plea: Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me.(18) And, He won’t!
He ends with praise for God’s faithfulness (22-24).
Interpret Martin Luther said, “It would be a good thing if young people were wise and old people were strong, but God has arranged things better.” Looking at prominent figures in the Hebrew Scriptures, few are young. God revealed His purposes to them, and they obeyed Him well beyond their three score and ten years, flawed but faithful to the end.
This psalm speaks of a lifetime of faith in God, keeping steadfast trust and endurance well into his final years.
Apply Western culture has skewed the social spectrum so that elders are too often ignored, neglected, even mocked – to our shame.
We’re losing their stories, building blocks for a community’s history. And if we don’t know our history, the adage goes, we may have to repeat it -- not a great prospect.
We combat our culture’s ageism by asking God for a holy respect for our elders, for eyes to see as God sees. Let’s ask for their stories as part of God’s story, listening patiently to learn and grow together in His love.
The Real Lives Lived brochures of a few years ago introduced our elders who attended the 8:30 service. They may now be in hospital, in care homes, homebound -- or with the Lord. As we can, we pray, visit, phone, write, invite… any means to say that their church family esteems them as God does. Psalm 71 reminds us elders have much to offer. Let’s discover who they are, remembering they are gifts!
Ask What are the faith stories of the elders in my community, my church family, my own family? What questions can I ask to encourage their telling? As I age, Lord, will You increase my strength, hope and faith in You?
Pray Lord, help me to renounce society’s fear and mockery of aging. You are my faithful, loving Lord, my life beginning to end. Anchor me to You as I become more vulnerable. Remind me often to give You thanks and praise because Jesus bought my entire life at great price.
Sing Psalm 71 Greg Mailloux - I Will Sing of Your Salvation
The Psalms Project - I Have Hoped, O Lord, in You
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.