MEDITATING ON THE PSALMS  – “A life-changing glimpse at God”
PSALM 71 – Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent (ESV) or
“A Psalm for Old Age” (title and notes from James Montgomery Boice: Psalms, Vol. 2)
Well, this title “A Psalm for Old Age” is not too appealing; however, I’m sure Boice has a good reason to title Psalm 71 in this way. 
Let’s begin first with some notes from my Ryrie Study Bible: The unnamed, aged writer of the psalm cries for help (vs. 1-3), prays for deliverance because of a confidence based on God’s lifelong care for him (vs. 4-13), and resolves to continue praising God (vs. 14-24). We see in verse 7 that God is still his strong refuge and in verse 15, the psalmist says that God’s inexhaustible mercies cannot be counted – “their number is past my knowledge.”  Wow!  I find that fact amazing and reassuring that God’s mercies are so many that they cannot be counted and are beyond numbering.
Now for John MacArthur’s Bible Commentary on Psalm 71: This psalm to God expresses the concern of old age.  At a time in his life when he thinks he should be exempt from certain kinds of troubles, he once again is personally attacked.  Though his enemies conclude that God has abandoned him, the psalmist is confident that God will remain faithful.  
MacArthur outlines this psalm of great confidence in three parts:
  1. Confidence in God Stated (vs. 1-8)
  2. Confidence in God Practiced in Prayer (vs. 9-13)
  3. Confidence in God Vindicated (14-24)
Verses 1-3 are almost the same on Psalm 31:1-3.  One difference, however, is the word continually, which the elderly person writing this psalm wants to emphasize.   God has continually been faithful.
According to James Montgomery Boice’s Psalms, Vol. 2, it is probably best to think of this psalm in terms of what it says, rather than its outline.  It handles four subjects: (1) old age and its problems, (2) how the past looks from the perspective of old age, (3) the future in terms of what is yet to be done, and (4) praise from one who has lived long enough to have observed God’s faithful ways [p. 593].
Old Age and Its Problems

It is not fun to be old, especially in America.  At other times and in other cultures old age had advantages to offset its disadvantages.  Elderly persons were honored and respected.  Their wisdom was valued.  That is no longer true in America or in the West generally.  Here we value youth [p.593]. The problems the psalmist had as a result of his old age were serious and even universal. 

  1. Weakness, the loss of former strength or abilities. Many of us find that we can echo that.  We can’t hear as well as we used to hear.  We can’t read the small print.  We get tired faster.  We don’t even sleep as well, and we wake up three or four times throughout the night [p.594].
  2. A continuation of troubles, particularly enemies. Some people have health problems all their lives. Some struggle with depression.  Others labor against class or ethnic prejudice, and the problems do not go away or even grow lighter as they grow older.  In fact, they are often more difficult and certainly more oppressive and hard to bear than when these people were young [p. 595].
  3. Being alone, no one to help. The third thing that bothered the psalmist was that he had fewer people to help him, to solve or help shoulder these burdens. In fact, he describes himself as being utterly alone with none to help, but God.  Maybe you feel that we too. In your youth, you had many friends and coworkers.  There were people you could share your burdens with.  But now you are old. Those former friends are gone. You have no one [p. 595]. HOW VERY SAD, NOW TO BE ENCOURAGED!
Looking to the Past: Our Faithful God
This leads us to the second important element of this psalm… the psalmist want us to see that even old age is given to us by God; it is one of his good gifts and should be used for His glory and the blessing and well-being of others.  He gets into these points first by pausing to look back over his long life and reflect on what he has learned about God and experienced about him during those former long years.  One great advantage of old age is in having a long experience of God’s presence, faithfulness, and blessing [pgs. 595-596].
Looking Ahead: The Next Generation
Not only did the psalmist look to the past to remember God’s goodness and faithfulness to him over the many long years of his life, he also looked to the future in terms of the work yet remaining to be done. He knew that if God had left him in life and had not yet taken him home to be with him in glory, it was because there was work to do.  This work was testifying to the coming generations about God [p.597].
The Present: Praising God Now
The psalmist turns to the present and begins to do exactly what he has been talking about.  He bears witness to God now.  What he praises God for chiefly is His righteousness (vs. 19-21) and His faithfulness (vs. 22-24). He wants them to know that God is an utterly faithful God and can be trusted to remain so. If so inclined, take time to sing the beautiful hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness:”
                        “Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
                        There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
                        Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
                        As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
                        “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!”
                        Morning by morning new mercies I see:
                        All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
                        “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!   
If you have known God at all, you have found that He is indeed a God of great faithfulness
and know that this must be your testimony [p. 598].  What about you?  Is this your testimony?
Personal notes by Lisa Patton
Questions to consider when applying this truth:  
Personal notes by Lisa Patton

 (Bible notes from Ryrie, MacArthur and/or Boice)