Lifelong Praise and Prayer. Psalm 71:1-24

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1 1 Commentary by Clyde M. Miller Questions by John C. Sewell Lifelong Praise and Prayer Psalm 71:1-24

2 2 Text: Psalm 71:1-24, Lifelong Praise and Prayer Commentary by Clyde M. Miller 1. In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. 2. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. 3. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 4. Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. 5. For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. 6. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. 7. I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. 8. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. 9. Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. 10. For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. 11. They say, "God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him."

3 Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me. 13. May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. 14. But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. 15. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. 16. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. 17. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. 18. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. 19. Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things. Who, O God, is like you? 20. Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. 21. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. 22. I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. 23. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you I, whom you have redeemed. 24. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion. (NIV) Introduction: I. Since there is no superscription, the psalm is anonymous. A. It is clear, however, that the author is approaching old age and is feeling its uncertainties.

4 He finds solace in the fact that he has been devoted to God all his life, and he knows that God does not forsake His faithful saints. B. He laments the fact that enemies threaten him and seek his life. II. Outline of Psalm 71: 1. This fact identifies the psalm as a lament. 2. Like so many laments, the psalm also contains praise and trust in God. 3. These mixed elements are not anomalies, for they are often interspersed in psalms of lament and petition. A. The psalm opens with the familiar plea for help (1-4). 1. Psalm 71:1-4, In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. (NIV) B. Then it continues with his prayer based on his lifelong trust in God (5-13). 1. Psalm 71:5-13, For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth

5 5 from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. They say, "God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him." Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me. May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. (NIV) C. The psalm closes with his declaration of lifelong praise to God based on trust in Him (14-24). 1. Psalm 71:14-24, But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things. Who, O God, is like you? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout

6 6 for joy when I sing praise to you I, whom you have redeemed. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion. (NIV) D. It is obvious that the overarching theme of the psalm is the author s consciousness of lifelong fidelity that gives him confidence to plead with and to praise God. Commentary: Plea for Help Psalm 71:1-4, In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. (NIV) Psalm 71:1, In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. (NIV) I. God is the one in whom the psalmist takes refuge. A. This, he believes, gives him a right to call upon God for help. 1. He pleads for constant help so he will never be put to shame. 2. He recognizes the changes that occur even in a life well lived, and he acknowledges his need of God s help to preserve his trust and defenses.

7 7 Psalm 71:2, Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. (NIV) I. His trust is in God s, not his own righteousness. A. God must be the one to save. 1. Thus, he confidently pleads for God to rescue and deliver him. Psalm 71:3, Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. (NIV) I. He petitions God in the expression be my rock of refuge, and declares his present trust by declaring God to be my rock and my fortress. A. Rock is a metaphor of a sure foundation; refuge is a metaphor of shelter; and fortress is a metaphor of a fortified place that grants protection from invasion. B. Phrase is heaped upon phrase in order to magnify the poet s feeling of absolute security in God. Psalm 71:4, Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. (NIV) I. Even though the psalmist feels that he has a firm grasp on God, he realizes that wicked and evil men seek to have a grasp on him also. A. Only He must choose his master. B. God is sufficient to deliver him.

8 8 Plea Based on Lifelong Trust Psalm 71:5-13, For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. They say, "God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him." Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me. May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. (NIV) Psalm 71:5, For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. (NIV) I. Pleas have not ceased in this section, but his lifelong attachment to God is declared as a basis for his confidence in God s help. A. The expression, O Sovereign LORD, acknowledges God as the ruler of his life and his covenant companion. 1. This relationship has not been casual or fickle, but it has been constant since his youth. Psalm 71:6, From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. (NIV) I. He recognizes that God birthed him, and he has therefore relied on Him from his birth. A. He promises to always praise God who has been his helper all his life.

9 9 Psalm 71:7, I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. (NIV) I. Threats by implied enemies are in sharp contrast to the strong refuge in God. A. Portent is a foreshadowing of grave events to come (4). 1. Psalm 71:4, Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. (NIV) Psalm 71:8, My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. (NIV) I. He repeats his declaration of continuous praise that declared God s splendor. A. God s splendor is His innate brilliance and glory. B. The psalmist has not treated God as the handy grocery man on whom he calls only in time of trouble. C. Praise of God has been characteristic of his entire life. Psalm 71:9, Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. (NIV) I. Verse 9 is a balanced couplet. A. When I am old and when my strength is gone express a common condition of the aging process.

10 Do not cast me away is a strong plea further defined by the expression, do not forsake me. a. The reason for this plea is given in verse 10. Psalm 71:10, For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. (NIV) I. For identifies verse 10 as a statement of the reason for his present plea. A. Conspirators defame him and seek to destroy him, so he thinks. B. The repetition of this sentiment in laments causes one to wonder if the fear is based on fact or fear. 1. Is it hyperbolic or realistic language? Psalm 71:11, They say, "God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him." (NIV) I. Apparently, because of his waning strength in old age, his enemies believe that God has forsaken him, and so they believe they can take unfair advantage of him without penalty. Psalm 71:12, Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me. (NIV) I. Verse 12 expresses the same imploring cry as found in Psalm 70:1. A. Psalm 70:1, In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. (NIV)

11 11 II. The call for quick relief involves the fear of immediate harm from enemies. Psalm 71:13, May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. (NIV) I. Wishing of shame scorn and disgrace upon one s enemies is common in laments. A. He calls for divine justice rather than personal vengeance. Praise Based on Lifelong Trust Psalm 71:14-24, But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things. Who, O God, is like you? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you I, whom you have redeemed. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion. (NIV) Psalm 71:14, But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. (NIV)

12 12 I. But as for me is a phrase that the psalmist uses to separate himself from the squeamish that are easily distracted by troubles. A. He vows always to have hope and to praise God in spite of distractions. Psalm 71:15, My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. (NIV) I. Righteousness has several connotations. A. In conjunction with salvation it refers to ethical acts of justice. B. God s righteousness and salvation, not his own, are the things upon which he relies (2,5,6). 1. Psalm 71:2, 5, 6, Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. (NIV) II. Though I know not its measure is an acknowledgment that he does not fully understand God s ways, but he is willing to trust Him. A. This attitude allows God to be God and places man in his proper relationship with Him. Psalm 7:16, I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. (NIV)

13 13 I. Verse 16 makes clear his vow to rely only on God s righteousness. A. He will proclaim God s righteousness manifested in His mighty acts that are generally characteristic of Him, and which are especially present for one in trouble like him. B. For the significance of the phrase, O Sovereign LORD, see the notes on verse He will proclaim these things so they may be shared by others. 2. Genuine faith and trust are most powerful when shared with others. Psalm 7:17, Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. (NIV) I. Lifelong the psalmist has been obedient to God s teaching. II. Lifelong commitment permeates Psalm 71 (5,6,8,14,15,18). A. Psalm 71:5,6,8,14,15,18, For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. (NIV)

14 14 Psalm 7:18, Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. (NIV) I. Apparently, the psalmist is not yet old and gray, but perhaps he is approaching that stage of his life (9). A. Psalm 71:9, Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. (NIV) B. He desires to live long enough to be able to share God s power and might with those who are yet to come. C. What a noble aspiration! Psalm 71:19, Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things. Who, O God, is like you? (NIV) I. Reaches to the skies is a superlative idea indicating complete permeation. A. Righteousness is still used in an active positive sense. B. His rhetorical question declares the uniqueness of God. C. It is manifested in the doing of great things. Psalm 71:20, Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. (NIV) I. He attributes his many and bitter troubles to God. A. God allowed these things to happen to him.

15 Yet, he trusts God as the restorer of his life. B. From the depths of the earth indicates the severity of his trials. II. Bring me up implies that restoration will be like a personal resurrection. Psalm 71:21, You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. (NIV) I. You will increase my honor implies that his honor has been smeared by his enemies. A. Restoration will be comforting to his troubled soul. Psalm 71:22, I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. (NIV) I. God s faithfulness has been implied throughout the psalm. A. Here it is plainly stated. 1. His faithfulness is praiseworthy. a. God can be trusted! II. Holy One of Israel is a designation used thirty-two times in thirty-one verses in the Old Testament (cf. Ps. 78:41; 89:14). A. Psalm 78:41, Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel. (NIV)

16 16 B. Psalm 89:14, Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. (NIV) C. The phrase is used mostly in Isaiah and... D. denotes God s awesome dignity manifested toward faithful Israel. Psalm 71:23, My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you I, whom you have redeemed. (NIV) I. God s redemptive acts are cause for shouts of joy and songs of praise. A. Redeemed, in the context of the psalm, doubtless refers to deliverance from the terror caused by his enemies. Psalm 71:24, My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion. (NIV) I. Righteous acts reveals the true meaning of God s righteousness set forth in the psalm. A. Whether in fact or only in anticipation, have his enemies been put to shame and confusion? The answer is uncertain. 1. Pleas for help throughout the psalm (1-4, 9-13, 20a) suggest possibly the latter. a. Psalm 71:1-4, 9-13, 20, In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save

17 17 Application: me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. They say, "God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him." Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me. May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. (NIV) b. Faith has been kept alive through his troubles. 2. As a result, his heart is now comforted in his expectation of God s favorable response to his prayer. I. Psalm 71 is a great example of faith triumphant. A. In spite of his feeling of great danger from his enemies, he keeps coming back to confidence and hope in the goodness of God. B. Determination to be faithful all of one s life is a wonderful fulcrum on which to balance one s life.

18 18 C. Recognition of the faithfulness of God, not just in good times, but also in the bad days, is a firm foundation for Godly living. D. It will be great when all God s children learn to trust Him so.

19 19 Questions Psalm 71:1-24 (Questions based on NIV text.) 1. The psalmist took in the and asked that the Lord never allow him to be put to. 2. The psalmist further asked that the Lord and him in his. He wanted God to to him and him. 3. The psalmist asked God to be his of, to which he could. The psalmist asked God to the to him because God was his and his. 4. He specifically prayed for from the of the, from the of and. 5. The had been the psalmist s and since his. 6. The psalmist gave God credit for his. How can it be said that the psalmist had relied on the Lord from birth? The psalmist promised to always the Lord.

20 What is a portent? To whom was the psalmist a portent? 8. The Lord was the psalmist s. The psalmist s would, therefore, be with God s, God s. 9. The psalmist prayed, Do when I am ; do me when my is. 10. Do we Christians care well for our elderly family members, older church members and neighbors of advancing age?. How can we improve our care of our senior citizens? 11. The psalmist said his enemies him and that those who wanted to him. Why did the psalmist have so many enemies who wanted to kill him?

21 The psalmist s enemies asserted, has him; him and him, for will him. 13. The psalmist s enemies thought he was defenseless. Therefore, they were ready to attack him. What do you think of people who kick others when they are down? In what ways do people do this today? _ 14. The psalmist prayed, Be from me, O God;, O my God, to. May my in ; may those who want to me be with and. 15. Did the psalmist do right in wanting the same fate for his enemies that they wished for him? Explain your answer. 16. The psalmist promised, But as for me, I will ; I will you and. My

22 22 will of your, of your, though I know not its. I will come and you, ; I will your,. 17. Tell of trying times in your life when hope remained strong and when it faltered? How do you account for the difference? 18. Since his, God had the psalmist and he in turn to that very had God s. 19. The psalmist further prayed, Even when I am and, do not, O God, till I your to the, your to all who are to. 20. Do you fear old age, death and dying? What can alleviate this fear?

23 How dedicated are you to teaching the next generation about the Lord s power, might and will? 22. The psalmist declared that God s reaches to the and praised God for all the he had done. He concluded that is like, equal, comparable to God. 23. The psalmist said, even though God had made him see and, he was confident God would his and would even him up from the of the. 24. The psalmist was persuaded God would his and him. How confident are you that everything works together for good to them that love God? Is your attitude positive or negative as a rule? 25. Explain... you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. Does this speak to the resurrection of the dead?

24 The psalmist again promised, I will you with the for your, O my God; I will to you with the, O of. 27. What have you promised God if he would bless you? Have you kept these promises? 28. What is a lyre? Give details. 29. My will for when I to you I, whom you have. My will tell of your, for those who wanted to me have been put to and. 30. What do you know about the author of Psalm 71?

25 Outline Psalm List all the metaphors used in Psalm 71 and give the meaning of each? 33. Define righteousness and salvation as used in Psalm To what is your life committed? Answer thoughtfully and frankly.

26 What applications can be made of the teachings of Psalm 71 to our lives?

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