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A Psalm for Old Age

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 21, 2021 7:00 am

A Psalm for Old Age

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 21, 2021 7:00 am

Old age comes to all of us, and in today’s culture, that time of life is not always well regarded. Here on The Bible Study Hour Dr. James Boice will be looking at Psalm 71. David is an old man looking back on a life of faithful service. What he concludes about life and old age can serve as a road map for us as well.

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Aging is inevitable, and in today's culture.

Old age is not always well-regarded at that stage of David's life we find him reminiscing on thoughts from his past.

He remembers God's faithfulness and asks what can I do for God with the strength that remains. It's a great pattern to follow. As we come into our golden years as well go to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Many people equate their older years with retirement and use them as a time of rest and relaxation. But that wasn't David's perspective. Let's join Dr. Boyce as he examines Psalm 71 will discover what may well be our most important responsibility as we walked beside David in this important stage of his life's journey. Very interesting thing about this second book of the sailor that almost all of the Psalms and adapt titles title I so that all is generally who the author is also sometimes tell us something about the soul. Psalm 71 doesn't have a title line is only one other Psalm in the second book of the soul or the does it and that is Psalm 43, which seems to belong together with Psalm 42 probably can remember back when we were studying that but the Psalms have the same refrain 42nd Psalm is longer.

Refrain repeated twice and only occurs once in Psalm 43, but there's a pattern would seem to indicate Psalms at one time belong together now because of that since the first Psalm is identified as a Psalm of David. Most people assume that Psalm 43 has been detached, but as a Psalm of David to mount on the same kind of thinking. According to the same kind of thinking there are people who would argue that Psalm 71 looking at now, along with Psalm 70 was detached from it and that because Psalm 70 is by David Psalm 71 is to I don't know about that kind of arguing that there is a lot of evidence that this 71st Psalm is by David whether or not it's identified is that for one thing, there are a lot of phrases in it that occur in the other Davidic song can find that yourself you just read through it. Phrases like rock of refuge, my rock and my refuge, my enemies be not far from me. Oh God, come quickly on my God to help me and so on. And there's another interesting feature and that is the first three verses are taken directly from Psalm 31 which is identified as being a Psalm of David. Since where coming near the end of this second book of the sailor and since it is going to say when we get to the very end. This concludes the prayers of David, the son of Jesse would certainly be appropriate if I saw him from David in his old age were included in the slaughter of exactly this point is other evidence for that to I'm going to assume Davidic authorship in this study, even though it doesn't explicitly claim to be by David, but it really doesn't make any difference because essentially it's a Psalm of an order saying it was reflecting on the lifetime of God's faithfulness and it's sitting in the software for our benefit, because sooner or later God spares us were all going to become old and this is a pattern for how to do it graciously and fulfilling what God has given us to do as long as he gives his breath to do it. Spurgeon a great Baptist preacher said we have here the prayer of the agent believer who in holy confidence of faith strengthened by a long and remarkable experience pleads against his enemies and asked further blessings for himself, and were studying the Psalms.

I like to get there outline clear because in most cases this is helpful. Psalms Fleming from idea to idea.

They develop a bill and we sometimes miss that because we more or less says containing isolated versus very hard to do that with a song you study the various commentators on it, you find that they give all kinds of outlines on them really agree I mentioned people like poop Golden Tate Kidner in the studies and Paul divides it into two parts. Tate divides it into five parts. Gartner has six sections which is the way the new international version seems the divided up, but his six sections. Don't correspond to the NIV's thick sections. Now if you're trying to get back kind of an outline. It's difficult what you do that you sort of flip a coin and pick one or the other night. I think the fact that it's hard to get an outline is significant because what's important here are the ideas in the repeated kind of come back again and again Megan noticed that when I was reading it earlier something that is set early in the Psalms mentioned later on in the song and goes back and forth. It strikes me that is probably the way you tend to think as you get older than the reminisce on ideas.

I keep coming back again and again you don't always have a clear progressive outline.

I wanted make very clear that the sermon that I'm going to get has a very clear progressive outline even if the Psalm doesn't bat that strikes me is probably what is happening in the Psalm is a reflection of that.

As a result going to study it is not to say in this particular case, what is the outline how does it flow, but rather what are the chief ideas since May when we do that it has four main subjects. First of all the problems.

The author David presumably doesn't even state that at the beginning and get around to it from about 1/3 of the way through, but nevertheless that's the perspective from which is writing so you start there old age and his problems, and then secondly how the past looks from the perspective of old age old you look back what you see on the Psalm has to do with that. Thirdly, how about the future of the future in terms of things that are yet to be gone and then finally forth subject praise from one of his live long enough to have observed God's righteousness and his faithful way. So more or less that's what were dealing with Psalm has to say about old age and his problems.

First of all, you know, it's not fun to be all especially in America as well as never fun to be old but at least there have been cultures in the history of the world where age has been highly regarded to the agent.

They were the source of wisdom in cultures where information is largely passed on by oral tradition, the agent were important because they were the ones who had the memories of things past state handed out on down to the children and when the wisdom of the culture are the community was sudden up in my kind of historical remembrance. While the age people were old with the source of that wisdom is it doesn't work that way in our culture today, our information, such as it is passed on mechanical ways and so old age is not regarded what we want to do is live forever, and so irises in a culture that glorifies you try to be young as long as possible. He spent thousands of dollars for facelifts and other kinds of lives so they look young and there are many, many agent people go around dressed like teenagers as they want to keep up the scald of the well they didn't have the problems that we do but he did have problems and they problems that he talks about here in his old age are more significant than our problems with old age because their universal kind of things that older people experience in any culture at all now suggest with some of them are first of all, the week this or the loss of former strength or abilities is one of the problems of getting old. You begin to lose your strength does not have the energy did when you were gone and your skills begin to go to quite as quick at things, your memory isn't quite as good other things besides. But I can't remember what those other things are many, many give you a quotation from John Wesley's journal know he was a great Methodist evangelist.

They lived to be 98 years old, born 1703 1791. He kept a diary throughout his life. Almost all of it, and here's what he wrote down for 28 June 1789 Sunday 28 this day I enter on my 86 year. I now find I grow old one. My site is decayed so that I cannot read small print unless in the strong light very strong lights appear to my strength is decayed so that I walk much slower than I did some years since three my memory of names of other persons or places is decayed till I stop a little to recollect what I should be afraid of is if I took thought for the morrow that my body should way down my mind and create other night. Her stubbornness by the decrease of my understanding or peevish.

This by the increase of bodily infirmities, thou shalt answer for me oh Lord my God, many of us can echo that, especially those who are bitter again here as well as we used to hear we can see as well, as we used to say we can't remember things as well as we used to remember them but of course rolling have a lot more to remember gets harder and sleep very well. We find ourselves waking up, getting up two or three times throughout the night thinking about when he says he got up there in verse nine. Do not cast me away when I am old. Do not forsake me when my strength is gone. One obvious universal problem of old age is declining strength and abilities is more sailing. He's concerned about is a continuation of troubles, particularly enemies. In his case, say, the second major problem of getting old is that the problems you had when you were younger. Don't go away you're still with you, David, and enemies when he was young and animatedly with all the enemies offer his life. It's hard to read a Psalm identified as a song by David not find them talking about his enemies, and here at the very end.

Find the same thing as well. My enemies speak against making those who wait to kill me conspire together verse 10 Marvin taken my mention. A moment ago says the speaker might have expected mature age to bring exemption from such attacks, but such is not the case. Enemies of the king were present as much of the end of his life is at the beginning. Same with us whatever problems you have all along. You're very likely to continue to have a say in my case that's entirely true.

Some of the problems I had.

When I'm was younger gone but a lot of them continue enough to be a problem. I supposed most serious personal problem I have is continuing to sustain the various ministries engaged in financially as well endorsing the goal I heard from Diana Fraser this morning about the Bible study ocean talk about the financial difficulties. The radio was always struggling to pay its bills were always behind on that trying to get into the daily market because we think that is the best way to move ahead and get on sound financial footing people give proper board members are very generous, and so on, but it always seems to be a struggle in their times in the course of the year when we get so far behind I come back from speaking somewhere and I think we just going to have to shut down the ministry because we can continue on that basis, city center economy as another burden a far smaller budget is relatively small school but has to be made up every year and that's that's a problem it's it's unending.

Anybody who works with the school as George McFarland does. Others knows that that's always the case. You just always laboring to try to find the necessary money in the same thing as truth in Presbyterian Church people here get very generously and that's a strength of this church that sustains ministries in one way or another, but we have our financial crises, from time to time we had one last summer. You know that the trustee speak about it from time to time in when it happens when he gets acute we begin to lose staff you have to cut back ministries things week after the would like to do anything continues.

I wish somebody would come along.

Just take all those burdens often owns that's not your problem anymore but nevertheless it continues to be not only is it problem. We've got letters Diana Fraser comment on that that command people say you know your problem is that you're not really seeking the will of God were following the will of God.

We would be in debt. Well, maybe they're not listening.

The will of God to give me would mean that I do not operate. Not quite as simple as that in the bed I'm making is that those problems continue, but are not always financial problems of the black family problem or difficult people and unless they killed everybody else off in the family. Family has to deal with that.

I know one woman who has octogenarian mother is in the home was been that burden for decades.

Very, very difficult as woman takes care of her mother and does it very well faithfully without any benefit to herself and all you think the mother would be grateful. But she isn't Jesus Now she otherwise didn't even get senile and begin to forget.

She always remembers the bad things bring them up even time on this basis about approaching 90 about Valium Forrester, the British novelist and a mother like that door leads my niece and he took care of all the time to make his life difficult and she didn't die until he was 66 had a rebirth of freedom that he is on the right some good things about problems. I got some health problems. They don't get better. Some people live with chronic ailments. There is with them year after year.

Yet you say good I could just be free of that. But you're not free of land and those things continue to linger in old agency and the problem is made more difficult, even if that problem itself is not difficult by the fact that we have less energy to deal with it. We just can't cope with it even is resilient and dealing with it when world as we are.

When were younger. So that's the second thing is also 1/3 thing David seems to mention here that's being alone and having no one to help third thing that bothered him.

He didn't have anybody to shoulder his burdens. In fact his enemies seem to recognize it because SOA gets into it. Verse 11. The enemy say God has forsaken him pursue him and sees him or no one will rescue him a lemonade offender's nobody's eyesight is no man is waiting for him to die, get out of the way so they can take over so David is very aware of being alone may be that's the case with you, especially if you're old enough earlier years you had friends stood by your coworkers, you share the burdens but now you're older you don't have people like that anymore. So, failing weakness, continuing problems and no one to help us very serious date is with Davis describing how he begins to look around for my perspective in the first place. He looks us to the past when he finds there is a God is faithful. You see has no one to help them. The one human, perhaps, but he does have not is looks to the past. He remembers the great things you can do in old age you can remember God is faithful and has been with them all along he notices several things about the past. First of all that God has been with him from his youth, and even before that says in verses five and six. You have been my hope of sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth from birth. I have relied on you. You brought me forth from my mother's womb. What that means is that he knows.

He remembers that he had learned to trust God from his childhood because of David story we have in the Old Testament. He was a man of God and before he was a man is the best way out taking care of the sheep, the youngest of his father Jesse's sons was a godly man. That's where he learned to communion with God, and undoubtedly some of the richness of the Psalms that he later wrote came out that experience of his youth that he says I remember that we would say here's a person. I became a Christian when they were when he was still a child when David says he is you compress back even before that, even before he can remember because he was sure because of his later experience that God had been faithful to him even when he was so young.

He couldn't remember. Maybe you can say that been a Christian a long time or know anything about the passings of the been told you by your parents say God was faithful to me.

The man I want to say that if you have known the Lord from childhood then you're very fortunate because your able to draw on those resources those memories as you grow older. Spurgeon wrote they are highly favored who can like David Samuel Josiah Timothy and others say you have been Mike Frost from my youth as an historical testimony.

You know the name of Polycarp. It was one of the martyrs of the early church was killed in the arena on February 22 year, 156 A.D. was an old man.

He was highly regarded in the city, but the test of faithfulness to the Empire in those days was burning incense to Caesar was a form of worshiping Caesar is Lord and what that person had to say was clear skies are Caesar is Lord. Christians would do it all. Somebody brought up Polycarp's name challenged in the court magistrates had to deal with it. I knew he was harmless instead of doing what was right, they did what magistrates do. They went by the law and in so this man was going to be executed and as they were taking them in the cart to the amphitheater where you have the choice of either offering the incense or being thrown to the lions.

They were trying to persuade and dissuade it make a come on now, what harm is throwing a little incense on the altar and saying Caesar is Lord is my Polycarp answered for 86 years I have been Christ's slave and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me say despite his age and undoubtedly his physical weakness.

Polycarp was strong and Becky was never stronger than he was when he made that testimony, because he looked back over 86 years of his life and he said Jesus Christ my Lord is faithful to me all that time so he was able to be faithful to him, even in the extremity as a second thing David says as he looks at the past and that concerns himself first concerns Is faithful now.

He says himself that he has become a portentous two minutes in verse seven portends as hard to define that. That's a difficult Hebrew word to define and we do the best they can with portentous but is also difficult because it can have either a bad sense or a good sense and has a good sense, it would refer to God's marvelous protecting care of David during all those years and people would say something like this.

Look how God is protecting the blessed David be important in that sense, or Randy could be a bad sense, and in that case, people would say something like, has anybody ever suffered as much as David without a word would be you.

I think in that, in the context of probably to be taken in the good sense because David speaking about the faithfulness of God, keeping them all those years. The bad sense isn't missing entirely, either because it's in the suffering and the difficulties of God kept him one of the commentators says it's best understand it, is applying to his wonderful life of trials and blessings, perils and deliverances such as, did not ordinarily fall a lot of man. David was important to not sense his life was a testimony to what God can do in the life of an individual in blessings and in trials is a whatever the circumstances were on a course why we have so much of the life of David in the Old Testament is told and very great length so they looks in the past.

That's what he sees.

He sees a God is faithful and that God has worked in him to make him some of the content to stand out as a testimony of the faithfulness of God before other people now. Third part he looks ahead. I suppose there are people who in their old age only look back and do so bitterly back to the past and imagine it to be better than the present. They think only of the deprived nations of old age. So I get sour and miserable. We know people like that. They don't look to the future very much probably because they're afraid to do it in the future means that you're going to die. They don't want to do that but David is afraid David looks to the future and looking to the future and say well I wonder how many years I have left doing that at all. He's looking to the future in terms of the work that God has got for him to do. They know that if God is left them in this life. However, old yeses for the purpose and southern something for them to do and instead of looking around mournfully looking around to see what he can do for God. Now what he talks about here is testifying the coming generations about God. This leads him to say this, verses 17 and 18.

Since my youth.

Oh God. You have talked me into this day, I declare your marvelous deeds.

Even when I am in grade do not forsake me of God until I declare your power to the next generation your mic to all the work, someone has said that the Christian church is only one generation away from extinction.

What they mean by that of course is that we have to testify to the work of Christ, so that the next generation believes that of course is true, but in the context of this Psalm.

The unique thing that David is saying is that people have a unique capacity of testifying to the notice that grandfathers and grandmothers can relate to the grandchildren. Sometimes a lot better and certainly they have more time to do it and the parents can answer so busy handling things they're doing it all right, but there's a special bond that the secular world has noticed that because one of the phenomena of recent times is that they will establish nursing care for children in nursing homes for older people because you're the people of their look in on the children show an interest in the children like that. They look up to the older people.

We've done it here at Kent Presbyterian Church in the sense that we bring people into the Sunday school to have the burden of teaching the lessons or maintaining discipline or whatever it may be, but often to help out here. The verses of the children have recites was and whatever else I may have to do the children look up to the older people and they like it. You say that is set phenomena unrecognized by the secular world, but it is biblical and probably that is when David is talking about here.

At any rate, he knows if he still around as I can bear witness of the people he chiefly has in mind of the new generation, the generation gap, brings us to the final point and that is the present.

You see David from the perspective of old age. The past and that he looks to the future and back and forth and now he also thinks about the present what he says about that present is that what he has to do is to bear witness to the faithfulness of God.

He is going to do and so he doesn't solve the bears witness to God right now I want to things he praises God for the first is his righteousness comes toward the end. Verses 19 to 21 and then finally as faithfulness versus 22, 24 righteousness is used in different ways in the Bible the way we know it best is how it's used in the New Testament, chiefly about divine righteousness, which is imputed to us by God on the basis of the work of Christ were justified because prices taken our sin to himself and we have received his righteousness as a gift of God is imputed righteousness. That's not the way the word is normally used in the Old Testament, certainly not in the Psalms characteristically way the word righteousness is used in the Psalms is that it has to do with God's right feelings. The fact that everything he does is just that you can't fathom for anything. So David as he looks back says yes that is what I have found true about God's ways are always right. I have always understood them.

Everything God does is right and so that's what I am going to testify to God is just, righteous.

So he can be trusted and in support of wisdom to conform one's life to his standards say when were younger we find against them. We think that is right must be a better way to do things, but as you get old to find out that all God's ways are right. And finally, the thing we mentioned all along God's faithfulness versus 22 to 24 a certain sense the entire soul has been about God's faithfulness is faithfulness in the past, testimony faithfulness of the future. That's faith now is talking about God's faithfulness in the presence of said lasting chief thing David wants to declare those who are, he wants them to know that our God is a faithful God on always trusted. That's why we sing about great is thy faithfulness of God my father. There is no shadow of turning with the changes monitored by compassions fail not, as thou has been around forever. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaimed biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians, or ask for a free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888. Please take the time to write to us and share how the Bible study our has impacted you. We love to hear from you and pray for you. Our address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Please consider giving financially to help keep the Bible study our impacting people for decades to come. You can do over the phone at 1-800-488-1888 or send a check to 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 176014 Canadian gifts mail those to 237 Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON. In one scene, 299. Thanks for your continued parents, and for listening to Bible study. Our preparing you to think and act

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