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Psalm 71:1-24

Wisdom of the Ages

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • February 04, 2024

The introduction of this Psalm does not tell us the author. However, David’s fingerprints seem to be all over it. The words and phrases sound like David; the attitude of faith sounds like David; and the beautiful heart after God sounds like David. 

He wrote this Psalm as the cry of his heart, asking God for help and deliverance. While David asks God for help, he pours out some of the greatest spiritual lessons of his life. We would do well to listen to the words of someone who has walked in faithfulness throughout the journey; who has learned to rely on the help of God, who has come through every battle with the testimony of God’s help.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Wisdom of the Ages
Psalm 71:1-24

February 2-3, 2024

            The introduction of this Psalm does not tell us the author. However, David’s fingerprints seem to be all over it. The words and phrases sound like David; the attitude of faith sounds like David; and the beautiful heart after God sounds like David. In other words, I’m pretty sure this Psalm was written by David.

            He is an old man when he wrote the song. We know that because he said so. Even in his old age, David is pressured by many troubles. He wrote this Psalm as the cry of his heart, asking God for help and deliverance.

            While David asks God for help, he pours out some of the greatest spiritual lessons of his life. We would do well to listen to the words of someone who has walked in faithfulness throughout the journey; who has learned to rely on the help of God, who has come through every battle with the testimony of God’s help.

            What we have in this Psalm is the testimony of someone who, in their old age, has the wisdom of the ages. He pleads with God for the strength to finish well. He cannot afford any missteps at this stage of his life. He has learned to rely on God’s help. And he cries out for God’s help again.

            The problem of being young is that you can’t see very well. I can already hear someone say, “What? It’s the elderly who can’t see very well.” And in a physical sense, that’s true. In fact, you know what they call someone who needs glasses in their older years? They call it Presbyterian-opia.

            Not really. It’s called presbyopia and it literally means, ‘elder eye.’ Presbuteros is the Greek word for elder.

            Here’s my point; when you’re older, your physical eyes may be dimmer, but your spiritual eyes ought to be brighter because you can see farther spiritually. You can see the consequences of the choices that could bring spiritual disaster. And you can see the consequences of the choices that would bring spiritual blessing.  

This is difficult for those who are young to see. They may have physical strength, but there are things you can only gain by the wisdom of living in the battle and trenches of life. When you’ve been through enough battles, when you’ve walked with the help of God through so many hard roads and seen God’s help, God walking with you in it, you learn to rely more and more on God.

This Psalm is filled with the wisdom of the ages; you might even call it the wisdom of the aged. As we hear these words of wisdom and take them to heart, we gain the ability to see spiritually just a little bit farther.

I. God will Meet You in Your Insufficiency

  • David cried out to God because he needed God’s help; the problems and distresses were too great for him to face alone.
  • One of the greatest lessons of David’s life is that God would meet him in his insufficiency. In other words, without God, David is insufficient. He could do none of the great things attributed to him unless God were with him. He believed God would meet him in his place of insufficiency. God is a refuge and God is his strength, a very present help in times of trouble.
  • Verse 1 – “In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge… In Your righteousness deliver me… Be thou to me a rock of habitation, to which I may continually come.”
  • This is a beautiful picture. God is a rock of habitation to which David continually comes. That is a life lesson.

Psalm 91:1-2, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!”

Illus – Moses said to the children of Israel just before they entered the land, “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are His everlasting arms.”

  • You may be pressed down, weighted down, burdened down; but it is there in that dwelling place, you will find the everlasting arms of God.

Jude 1:24, Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.

  • David has learned that God is a rock of habitation; that’s where his strength comes from, that’s where his faith comes from. He has learned to dwell in the nearness of God – a Rock of habitation.
  • When David wanted to build the temple in Jerusalem to honor the God of his life, the Lord responded with a firm, “No, David, you are a man of war. The Temple will be built by a man of peace. However, it’s good that this was on your heart. Now I will do something for you; I will build you a house, an everlasting kingdom and the great Messiah who comes at the end of the age will be called the Son of David.”
  •  When David heard what God would do for him, he went to the tabernacle and sat before the Lord…

2 Samuel 7:18, 22, “Who am I, O Lord God, that you have brought me this far?… You are great, O Lord God, there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our years.”

A. God must become your confidence

  • Verse 5 – “You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.” This is a difficult lesson to learn.

Illus – When you’re young your security and confidence can be in your youth itself. Your future is before you. You have time on your side, and you have the strength and vitality of youth on your side. You may not have much, but you have your youth!

Illus – I remember when Jordi and I first started our relationship. I literally had nothing. I drove an old junker of a car. To drive from Hillsboro to Beaverton to take her home used a quart of oil. To drive from Beaverton back home, that was another quart of oil. But I was young, and I was strong!

App – It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, it’s always a mistake to trust in one’s self. But those who trust in the Lord and those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength. God will make you walk on high places.

Illus – In 1872, church leaders in England began planning a revival. At one of the planning meetings, one of the pastors said, “We need DL Moody.” A debate followed. Finally, somebody asked, “Why do we need DL Moody? What is it, does DL Moody have a monopoly on God?” “No,” a young pastor responded, “but God has a monopoly on him.”

  • It is a theme of the scriptures that God does not want you to be self-confident. By definition, self-confidence is confidence in self and those who are confident in self, do not need God.

Psalm 20:7, Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 27:1-3, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? …Though a host arise against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.

B. God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness

  • David believed that God would meet him in his insufficiency. In other words, he believed that God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness.
  • Verse 7-8 – “I have become a marvel to many; for You are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with Your praise, and with Your glory all day long. Do not cast me off in a time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails.”
  • David had become a marvel to many. Over and over God rescued him. Even when he came to his weakest point, his darkest hour, when his own son Absalom betrayed him and led a deep conspiracy; even to the point that he had to flee Jerusalem.
  • Even when people were wagging their tongues and saying, “There is no help for him in God,” David believed that God would meet him in his insufficiency…

Psalm 3:2-3, Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.”

  • Now that David is old, his strength is waning. He needs God to meet him in his insufficiency more than ever before.
  • Anyone over 50 knows that you get weaker as you get older. David did as well.

Illus – When David was older, he was in a battle, in hand to combat with the Philistines, he began to grow weary. One of the sons on Goliath was in the battle that day and when he saw David, he was intent on killing him. One of David’s commanders came to David’s side and killed the son of the giant. After that, they said that David must not go out to battle again.

  • It happens to all of us. Everyone gets older. But those who are wise know that God will meet you in your insufficiency and that God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9, I implored the Lord three times that this thorn in the flesh might leave me. But the Lord has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

II. Declare God’s Strength to this Generation

  • Verses 17-18 – “O God, You have taught me from my youth; and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.”
  • In other words, David is saying, I’m not done yet. I’m not done until I declare Your strength to this generation. I want the next generation to know what I have come to know about you, O God.
  • “You have taught me from my youth; and I am still declaring Your wonderful deeds.”
  • Youth need the wisdom that comes from the experience of trusting God through the hard battles of life. But they don’t have that experience. But those who are older do; and when you’re old, you want to tell them what great things God can do so they don’t repeat the mistakes you made.
  • This is what David wants them to know…

A. God has done great things

  • Verse 18-19 — “I will declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come. For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?.”

Psalm 37:25-26, Once I was young, and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing.

  • Notice the deep truths revealed in those verses. I’ve lived a long time, David said, and I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken. But then he added, and I’ve never seen his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious, and his descendants are a blessing.
  • See the influence from one generation to another? See the blessing that flows from a faithful generation unto the next?

Illus – Two men were giving their testimony at a church revival meeting. The first one stood and said, “I was once an alcoholic, worldly in every way, I went to the bottom of everything the world had to offer. But God got hold of my life and saved me. I thank God for His grace to save.

            The second man stood and said, “The first gentleman who spoke gave a powerful testimony of how God can save out of a broken and worldly life. But that is not my testimony. I’ve never been drunk; I’ve never slept around; I haven’t gone the way of the world. I was raised in a Christian home. My parents prayed for me every day. I was raised in the church, it’s all I’ve ever known. My testimony is that not only does God have the power to save you from the world, but He also has the power to keep you from it. I thank God for his glory in my life and for keeping me from falling so that I can declare His faithfulness today.”

Illus – And I can add my own testimony. Though I was raised with every disadvantage, my mother made a point of making sure that somehow and some way we got to church so that I could hear a better word. Her steadfast faithfulness changed my life.

            Many years ago when the church was quite young, we used to have recordings of the messages available on cassette tape. One day I walked by the front desk, and I saw an order for an older message. I thought, that’s amazing, someone wants to hear one of my messages. So I asked my secretary, who ordered that tape?” “Your mother,” she answered.

            Actually, she used to listen to Bible teachers on the radio and take notes. After she passed, we discovered drawers filled with notebooks of her writing page by page as she listened to the Word of God.

            I want t o tell what a blessing it was at her funeral. She didn’t have anything to speak of all her life. She never owned a home, she never learned to drive, she worked hard all her life, but she endured. She was faithful. She got to see her son become a pastor and when she passed, the church was full of people bringing honor to a faithful dear saint of God.

  • David wants to be that influence. Older people have something to say to those who are young.

Illus – The story of the prodigal son is filled with this very lesson. The younger of two sons came to his father and said, “Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.” And he divided his wealth between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered everything and went on a journey into a distant country and there he squandered his estate with worldly living.

You can imagine his thought, “Give me my share of the estate; I’ve got some livin’ to do.”

There’s a lot of older people who would say to that young man, “You call that living? You think there’s life in that? You need to change your definition. You think that’s life but it’s not. I’ve lived enough years that I can tell you that that’s not where life is found. That only brings death and trouble and sorrow and grief. Let me tell you what I know; God is the very fountain of life, and He wants you to drink deeply from the river of His delights. Now that’s livin’.

  • David has something to say about God who has done such great things in his life. He wants the next generation to believe that God will do great things for them.

B. May God increase your greatness

  • Verse 19-21 – “God has done great things. Who is like You, O God, who has shown me many troubles and distresses, but You will revive me again… May You increase my greatness and turn to comfort me.”
  • David has something to say to the next generation. This life will bring troubles far greater than you can imagine, but God will see you through. God will revive you again. “There is no one like You, O God.”
  • Notice David’s prayer “May You increase my greatness…”
  • You may grow physically weaker as you grow older, but you can most certainly become spiritually stronger.
  • The greatest lessons you have learned have everything to do with the soul. You have come to discover that God can make the soul sing. God will increase His glory and His beauty as He pours more and more glory into your soul.

Psalm 71:1-24    NASB

71 In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed.
In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
Incline Your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come;
You have given commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man,
For You are my hope;
O Lord GodYou are my confidence from my youth.
6 By You I have been sustained from my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother’s womb;
My praise is continually of You.

I have become a marvel to many,
For You are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all day long.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
Do not forsake me when my strength fails.
10 For my enemies have spoken against me;
And those who watch for my life have consulted together,
11 Saying, “God has forsaken him;
Pursue and seize him, for there is no one to deliver.”

12 O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, hasten to my help!
13 Let those who are adversaries of my soul be ashamed and consumed;
Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor, who seek to injure me.
14 But as for me, I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And of Your salvation all day long;
For I do not know the sum of them.
16 I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone.

17 O God, You have taught me from my youth,
And I still declare Your wondrous deeds.
18 And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to all who are to come.
19 For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens,
You who have done great things;
O God, who is like You?
20 You who have shown me many troubles and distresses
Will revive me again,
And will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
21 May You increase my greatness
And turn to comfort me.

22 I will also praise You with a harp,
Even Your truth, O my God;
To You I will sing praises with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You;
And my soul, which You have redeemed.
24 My tongue also will utter Your righteousness all day long;
For they are ashamed, for they are humiliated who seek my hurt.

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