(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon)  "Excerpted text

Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.  Materials are reproduced

by permission."

 

                                                Psalm 71

 

 

 

There is no title to this Psalm, and hence some conjecture that Psalm 70 is

intended to be a prelude to it, and has been broken off from it. Such

imaginings have no value with us. We have already met with five Psalms

without title, which are, nevertheless, as complete as those which bear

them.

 

We have here THE PRAYER OF THE AGED BELIEVER, who, in holy

confidence of faith, strengthened by a long and remarkable experience, pleads

against his enemies, and asks further blessings for himself. Anticipating a gracious

reply, he promises to magnify the Lord exceedingly.

 

DIVISION. The first four verses are faith's cry for help; the next four are a

testimony of experience. From vs. 9-13, the aged saint pleads against his foes,

and then rejoices in hope,  vs.14-16. He returns to prayer again in vs.17-18,

repeats the confident hopes which cheered his soul, vs.19-21; and then he closes

with the promise of abounding in thanksgiving. Throughout, this Psalm may be

regarded as the utterance of struggling, but unstaggering, faith.

 

 

1   “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust:” -  Jehovah deserves our

confidence; let Him have it all. Every day must we guard against every form

of reliance upon an arm of flesh, and hourly hang our faith upon the ever

faithful God. Not only on God must we rest, as a man stands on a rock, but

in Him must we trust, as a man hides in a cave. The more intimate we are

with the Lord, the firmer will our trust be. God knows our faith, and yet He

loves to hear us avow it; hence, the psalmist not only trusts in the Lord, but

tells him that He is so trusting - “let me never be put to confusion.”

So long as the world stands, stand thou by me; yea, for ever and ever be faithful

to thy servant. If thou forsake me, men will ridicule my religion, and how shall I

be able to answer them?  Confusion will silence me, and thy cause will be put to

shame. This verse is a good beginning for prayer; those who commence with

 trust shall conclude with joy.

 

2  “Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape:” -  Be true,

O God, to thy word. It is a righteous thing in thee to keep the promises

which thou hast made unto thy servants. I have trusted thee, and thou wilt

not be unrighteous to forget my faith. I am taken as in a net, but do thou

liberate me from the malice of my persecutors - “incline thine ear unto me,

and save me. Stoop to my feebleness, and hear my faint whispers; be gracious

to my infirmities, and smile upon me: I ask salvation; listen thou to my petitions,

and save me. Like one wounded and left for dead by mine enemies, I need that

thou bend over me and bind up my wounds. These mercies are asked on the plea

of faith, and they cannot, therefore, be denied.

 

3   “Be thou my strong habitation,” -  Permit me to enter into thee, and be

as much at home as a man in his own house, and then suffer me to remain

in thee as my settled abode. Whereas foes molest me, I need a dwelling

framed and bulwarked, to sustain a siege and resist the attacks of armies;

let, then, thine omnipotence secure me, and be as a fortress unto me. Here

we see a weak man, but he is in a strong habitation; his security rests upon

the tower in which he hides, and is not placed in jeopardy through his personal

feebleness - “whereunto I may continually resort:” - Fast shut is this castle

against all adversaries, its gates they cannot burst open; the drawbridge is up, the

portcullis is down, the bars are fast in their places; but, there is a secret

door, by which friends of the great Lord can enter at all hours of the day or

night, as often as ever they please. There is never an hour when it is

unlawful to pray. Mercy's gates stand wide open, and shall do so, till, at the

last, the Master of the house has risen up and shut to the door. Believers

find their God to be their habitation, strong and accessible, and this is for

them a sufficient remedy for all the ills of their mortal life - “thou hast

given commandment to save me;” - Nature is charged to be tender

with God's servants; Providence is ordered to work their good, and the

forces of the invisible world are ordained as their guardians. David charged

all his troops to spare the young man Absalom, but yet he fell. God's

commandment is of far higher virtue, for it compels obedience, and secures

its end. Destruction cannot destroy us, famine cannot starve us; but we

laugh at both, while God's mandate shields us (Romans 8:35-39).  No stones

of the field can throw us down, while angels bear us up in their hands; neither

can the beasts of the field devour us, while David's God delivers us from their

ferocity, or Daniel's God puts them in awe of us - “for thou art my rock and

my fortress.” In God we have all the security which nature which furnishes the

rock, and art which builds the fortress, could supply; he is the complete preserver

of His people. Immutability may be set forth by the rock, and omnipotence by the

fortress. Happy is he who can use the personal pronoun "my" --not only once,

but as many times as the many aspects of the Lord may render desirable. Is He a

strong habitation? I will call Him "my strong habitation," and He shall be my

 rock, my fortress, my God, my hope, my trust (v. 5), my praise (v. 6). All

mine shall be His, all His shall be mine. This was the reason why the psalmist

was persuaded that God had commanded His salvation, namely, because He had

enabled him to exercise a calm and appropriating faith.

 

4   “Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,” -  God is on

the same side with us, and those who are our enemies are also His, for they

are wicked; therefore will the Lord surely rescue His own confederates, and

He will not suffer the evil to triumph over the just. He who addresses such

a prayer as this to heaven, does more injury to his enemies than if he had

turned a battery of Armstrongs upon them - “out of the hand of the unrighteous

and cruel man.” Being wicked to God, they become unrighteous towards men,

and cruel in their persecutions of the godly. Two hands are here mentioned: they

grasp and they crush; they strike and they would slay if God did not prevent; had

they as many hands as Briareus, the finger of God would more than match them.

 

5   “For thou art my hope, O Lord God:” -  God who gives us grace to

hope in Him, will assuredly fulfill our hope, and, therefore, we may plead it

in prayer. His name is "Jehovah, the hope of Israel" (Jeremiah 17:13); and,

as He cannot be a false or failing hope, we may expect to see our confidence

justified - “thou art my trust from my youth.”  David had proved his faith by

notable exploits when he was a youth and ruddy; it was to him a cheering

recollection, and he felt persuaded that the God of his youth would not

forsake him in his age. They are highly favored who can like David, Samuel,

Josiah, Timothy, and others say, "Thou art my trust from my youth."

 

6   “By thee have I been holden up from the womb” -  Before he was able

to understand the power which preserved him, he was sustained by it. God

knows us before we know anything. The elect of old lay in the bosom of

God before they were laid on their mothers' bosoms; and when their

infantile weakness had no feet strong enough to carry it, the Lord upheld it.

We do well to reflect upon divine goodness to us in childhood, for it is full

of food for gratitude - “thou art He that took me out of my mother's bowels:”

Even before conscious life, the care of God is over His chosen. Birth is a mystery

of mercy, and God is with both mother and babe. If marriages are registered

in heaven, we may be sure that births are also. Holy women do well to

bless God for His mercy to them in nature's perilous hour; but every one

who is born of woman has equal cause for thankfulness. She, whose life is

preserved, should render thanks, and so should he whose life is given.

“my praise shall be continually of thee.”  Where goodness has been

unceasingly received, praise should unceasingly be offered. God is the

circle where praise should begin, continue, and endlessly revolve, since “in

Him we live, and move, and have our being.” – (Acts 17:28)

 

7   “I am as a wonder unto many:” -  "To thousand eyes a mark and gaze

am I." The saints are men wondered at; often their dark side is gloomy

even to amazement, while their bright side is glorious even to astonishment. The

believer is a riddle, an enigma puzzling the unspiritual; he is a monster warring

with those delights of the flesh, which are the all in all of other men; he is a prodigy,

unaccountable to the judgments of ungodly men; a wonder gazed at, feared, and,

by and by, contemptuously derided. Few understand us, many are surprised at us -

“but thou art my strong refuge.”  Here is the answer to our riddle. If we are

strong, it is in God; if we are safe, our refuge shelters us; if we are calm,

our soul hath found her stay in God. When faith is understood, and the

grounds of her confidence seen, the believer is no longer a wonder; but the

marvel is that so much unbelief remains among the sons of men.

 

8   “Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honor all the

day.” What a blessed mouthful! A man never grows nauseated though the

flavor of it be all day in his mouth. God's bread is always in our mouths,

so should His praise be. He fills us with good; let us be also filled with

gratitude. This would leave no room for murmuring or backbiting;

therefore, may we well join with holy David in this sacred wish.

 

9  “Cast me not off in the time of old age;”  David was not tired of his

Master, and his only fear was lest his Master should be tired of him. The

Amalekite in the Bible history left his Egyptian servant to famish when he

grew old and sick, but not so the Lord of saints; even to hoar hairs He bears

and carries us. Alas for us, if we were abandoned by our God, as many a

courtier has been by his prince! Old age robs us of personal beauty, and

deprives us of strength for active service; but it does not lower us in the

love and favor of God. An ungrateful country leaves its worn out

defenders to starve upon a scanty pittance, but the pensioners of heaven

are satisfied with good things - “forsake me not when my strength faileth.”

Bear with me, and endure my infirmities. To be forsaken of God is the worst of

all conceivable ills, and if the believer can be but clear of that grievous fear, he is

happy: no saintly heart need be under any apprehension upon this point.

 

10  “For mine enemies speak against me;” -  Dogs howl over a dying lion.

When David's arm was able to chastise his foes, they were yet impudent

enough to slander him, and he fears that now they will take fresh license in

the hour of his weakness. The text most properly means that his enemies

had said that God would forsake him; and, therefore, he is the more earnest

that the Lord's faithful dealings may give them the lie - “and they that lay wait

for my soul take counsel together.”  The psalmist had enemies, and these were

most malicious; seeking his utter destruction, they were very persevering, and

stayed long upon the watch; to this they added cunning, for they lay in ambush to

surprise him, and take him at a disadvantage; and all this they did with the utmost

unanimity and deliberation, neither spoiling their design by want of prudence, nor

marring its accomplishment by a lack of unity. The Lord our God is our only

 and all sufficient resort from every form of persecution.

 

11  “Saying, God hath forsaken him:” -  O bitter taunt! There is no worse

arrow in all the quivers of hell. Our Lord felt this barbed shaft, and it is no

marvel if His disciples feel the same. Were this exclamation the truth, it

were indeed an ill day for us; but, glory be to God, it is a barefaced lie -

“persecute and take him;” -  Let loose the dogs of persecution upon him,

seize him, worry him - “for there is none to deliver him.”  Down with him,

for he has no friends. It is safe to insult him, for none will come to his rescue.

O cowardly boasts of a braggart foe, how do ye wound the soul of the believer:

and only when his faith cries to his Lord is he able to endure your cruelty.

 

12  “O God, be not far from me:” -  Nearness to God is our conscious

security. A child in the dark is comforted by grasping its father's hand.

“O my God, make haste for my help.”  To call God ours, as having entered

into covenant with us, is a mighty plea in prayer, and a great stay to our

faith. The cry of "make haste" has occurred many times in this portion of

the Psalms, and it was evoked by the sore pressure of affliction. Sharp

sorrows soon put an end to procrastinating prayers.

 

13  “Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to

my soul;” -  It will be all this to them to see thy servant preserved; their envy

and malice, when disappointed, will fill them with life consuming bitterness.

The defeat of their plans shall nonplus them, they shall be confounded as

they enquire the reason for their overthrow; the men they seek to destroy

seem so weak, and their cause so contemptible, that they will be filled with

amazement as they see them not only survive all opposition, but even

surmount it. How confounded must Pharaoh have been when Israel

multiplied, despite his endeavors to exterminate the race; and how

consumed with rage must the Scribes and Pharisees have become when

they saw the gospel spreading from land to land by the very means which

they used for its destruction - “let them be covered with reproach and

dishonor that seek my hurt.”  He would have their shame made visible to

all eyes, by their wearing it in their blushes as a mantle. They would have made

a laughing stock of the believer, if his God had forsaken him; therefore, let

unbelief and atheism be made a public scoffing in their persons.

 

14   The holy faith of the persecuted saint comes to the front in these three verses. 

“But I will hope continually,” - When I cannot rejoice in what I have, I will

look forward to what shall be mine, and will still rejoice. Hope will live on

a bare common, and sing on a branch laden down with snow. No date and

no place are unsuitable for hope. Hell alone excepted, hope is a dweller in

all regions. We may always hope, for we always have grounds for it: we

will always hope, for it is a never failing consolation - “and will yet praise

thee more and more.”  He was not slack in thanksgiving; in fact, no man was

ever more diligent in it; yet he was not content with all his former praises, but

vowed to become more and more a grateful worshipper. When good things

are both continual and progressive with us, we are on the right track. We ought to

be misers in going good, and our motto should be "more and more." While we

do not disdain to "rest and be thankful," we cannot settle down into resting in our

thankfulness.  "Superior" cries the eagle, as he mounts towards the sun: higher

and yet higher is also our aim, as we soar aloft in duty and devotion. It is our

continual hope that we shall be able more and more to magnify the Lord.

 

15  “My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation

all the day;” -  We are to bear testimony as experience enables us, and not

withhold from others that which we have tasted and handled. The

faithfulness of God in saving us, in delivering us out of the hand of our

enemies, and in fulfilling His promises, is to be everywhere proclaimed by

those who have proved it in their own history. How gloriously conspicuous

is righteousness in the divine plan of redemption! It should be the theme of

constant discourse. The devil rages against the substitutionary sacrifice,

and errorists of every form make this the main point of their attack; be it

ours, therefore, to love the doctrine, and to spread its glad tidings on every

side, and at all times. Mouths are never so usefully employed as in

recounting the righteousness of God revealed in the salvation of believers

in Jesus. The preacher who should be confined to this one theme would

never need seek another: it is the medulla theologae, the very pith and

marrow of revealed truth. Has our reader been silent upon this choice

subject? Let us, then, press him to tell abroad what he enjoys within: he

does not well who keeps such glad tidings to himself.  II Kings 7:8-10) -

“for I know not the numbers thereof.”  He knew the sweetness of it, the

sureness, the glory, and the truth of it; but as to the full reckoning of its

plenitude, variety, and sufficiency, he felt he could not reach to the height

of the great argument. Lord, where I cannot count I will believe, and when

a truth surpasses numeration I will take to admiration. When David spoke

of his enemies, he said they were more in number than the hairs of his head;

he had, therefore, some idea of their number, and found a figure suitable to

set it out; but, in the case of the Lord's covenant mercies, he declares, "I

know not the number " and does not venture upon any sort of comparison.

To creatures belong number and limit, to God and His grace there is

neither. We may, therefore, continue to tell out His great salvation all day

long, for the theme is utterly inexhaustible.

 

16   “I will go in the strength of the Lord God.” -  Our translators give us

a good sense, but not the sense in this place, which is on this wise, "I will

come with the mighty deeds of the Lord Jehovah." He would enter into

those deeds by admiring study, and then, wherever he went, he would

continue to rehearse them. He should ever be a welcome guest who can tell

us of the mighty acts of the Lord, and help us to put our trust in Him. The

authorized version may be used by us as a resolve in all our exertions and

endeavors. In our own strength we must fail; but, when we hear the voice

which saith, "Go in this thy might," we may advance without fear. Though

hell itself were in the way, the believer would pursue the path of duty,

crying: “I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy

righteousness, even of thine only.”  Man's righteousness is not fit to be

mentioned--filthy rags are best hidden; neither is there any righteousness

under heaven, or in heaven, comparable to the divine. As God Himself fills

all space, and is, therefore, the only God, leaving no room for another, so

God's righteousness, in Christ Jesus, fills the believer's soul, and he counts

all other things but dross and dung "that he may win Christ, and be found

in him, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but the

righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:8-9).  What would be

the use of speaking upon any other righteousness to a dying man? and all are

dying men. Let those who will cry up man's natural innocence, the dignity of the

race, the purity of philosophers, the loveliness of untutored savages, the

power of sacraments, and the infallibility of pontiffs; this is the true believer's

immovable resolve: "I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine

only." For ever dedicated to thee, my Lord, be this poor, unworthy tongue,

whose glory it shall be to glorify thee. (Dear Reader:  the words below

from William Cowper’s There is a Fountain are engraved on Mr. Spurgeon’s

tombstone – CY – 2011)

            E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
            Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
            And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
            Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

            Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
            When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
            Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
            When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave

17  “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth:” -  It was comfortable to

the psalmist to remember that from his earliest days he had been the Lord's

disciple. None are too young to be taught of God, and they make the most

proficient scholars who begin betimes - “and hitherto have I declared thy

wondrous works.”  He had learned to tell what he knew, he was a pupil teacher;

he continued still learning and declaring, and did not renounce his first master;

this, also, was his comfort, but it is one which those who have been seduced

from the school of the gospel, into the various colleges of philosophy and

skepticism, will not be able to enjoy. A sacred conservatism is much needed in

these days, when men are giving up old lights for new. (Mr. Spurgeon once said:

“There is nothing new but that which is false.” – CY  - 2011)  We mean both to

learn and to teach the wonders of redeeming love, till we can discover something

nobler or more soul satisfying; for this reason we hope that our gray heads will

be found in the same road as we have trodden, even from our beardless youth.

 

18  “Now also when I am old and grey headed, O God, forsake me

not;” -  There is something touching in the sight of hair whitened with the

snows of many a winter: the old and faithful soldier receives consideration

from his king, the venerable servant is beloved by his master. When our

infirmities multiply, we may, with confidence, expect enlarged privileges in

the world of grace, to make up for our narrowing range in the field of

nature. Nothing shall make God forsake those who have not forsaken Him.

Our fear is lest He should do so; but His promise kisses that fear into silence.

“until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation,” -  He desired to

continue his testimony and complete it; he had respect to the young men

and little children about him, and knowing the vast importance of training

them in the fear of God, he longed to make them all acquainted with the

power of God to support His people, that they also might be led to walk by

faith. He had leaned on the almighty arm, and could speak experimentally

of its all sufficiency, and longed to do so ere life came to a close - “and thy

power to every one that is to come.”  He would leave a record for

unborn ages to read. He thought the Lord's power to be so worthy of

praise, that he would make the ages ring with it till time should be no more.

For this cause believers live, and they should take care to labor zealously

for the accomplishment of this their most proper and necessary work.

(Reader, this is my goal tonight, with God’s help, to promote His Word – CY –

2011) - Blessed are they who begin in youth to proclaim the name of the Lord,

and cease not until their last hour brings their last word for their divine Master.

 

19  “Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high,” -  Very sublime,

unsearchable, exalted, and glorious is the holy character of God, and His

way of making men righteous. His plan of righteousness uplifts men from

the gates of hell to the mansions of heaven. It is a high doctrine gospel,

gives a high experience, leads to high practice, and ends in high felicity -

“who hast done great things:” -  The exploits of others are mere child's play

compared with thine, and are not worthy to be mentioned in the same age.

Creation, providence, redemption, are all unique, and nothing can compare

with them - “O God, who is like unto thee!”  As thy works are so transcendent,

so art thou. Thou art without compeer, or even second, and such are thy works,

and such, especially, thy plan of justifying sinners by the righteousness which

thou hast provided. Adoration is a fit frame of mind for the believer.  When he draws

near to God, he enters into a region where everything is surpassingly sublime; miracles

of love abound on every hand, and marvels of mingled justice and grace. A traveler

among the high Alps often feels overwhelmed with awe, amid their amazing sublimities;

much more is this the case when we survey the heights and depths of the mercy and

holiness of the Lord.  O God, who is like unto thee!”

 

20  “Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me

again,” -  Here is faith's inference from the infinite greatness of the Lord. He has

been strong to smite; He will be also strong to save. He has shown me many heavy

and severe trials, and He will also show me many and precious mercies. He has

almost killed me, He will speedily revive me; and though I have been almost dead

and buried, He will give me a resurrection,and shalt  bring me up again

from the depths of the earth.”  However low the Lord may permit us to sink,

He will fix a limit to the descent, and in due time will bring us up again. Even when

we are laid low in the tomb, the mercy is that we can go no lower, but shall retrace

our steps and mount to better lands; and all this, because the Lord is ever

mighty to save. A little God would fail us, but not Jehovah the Omnipotent.

It is safe to lean on Him, since He bears up the pillars both of heaven and earth.

 

21  “Thou shalt increase my greatness,” -  As a king, David grew in

influence and power. God did great things for him, and by him, and this is

all the greatness believers want. May we have faith in God, such as these

words evince - “and comfort me on every side.”  As we were surrounded with

afflictions, so shall we be environed with consolations. From above, and from

all around, light shall come to dispel our former gloom; the change shall be

great, indeed, when the Lord returns to comfort us.

 

Here is the final vow of praise.

 

 

22  “I will also praise thee with the psaltery,” -  Love so amazing calls for

sweetest praise. David would give his best music, both vocal and

instrumental, to the Best of Masters. His harp should not be silent, nor his

voice - “even thy truth, O my God:” -  This is ever a most enchanting attribute

-viz., the truth or faithfulness of our covenant God. On this we rest, and from it

we draw streams of richest consolation. His promises are sure, His love

unalterable, His veracity indisputable (God is “abundant in truth”

Exodus 34:6 – CY – 2011) - What saint will not praise Him as he remembers this?

“unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.”  Here is a

new name, and, as it were, a new song. The Holy One of Israel is at once a

lofty and an endearing name, full of teaching. Let us resolve, by all means

within our power, to honor Him.

 

23  “My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee;” -  It shall be no

weariness to me to praise thee. It shall be a delightful recreation, a solace, a

joy. The essence of song lies in the holy joy of the singer - “and my soul, which

thou hast redeemed.”  Soul singing is the soul of singing. Till men are redeemed,

they are like instruments out of tune; but when once the precious blood has

set them at liberty, then are they fitted to magnify the Lord who bought them.

Our being bought with a price is a more than sufficient reason for our dedicating

ourselves to the earnest worship of God our Savior.

 

24   “My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long:”

 I will talk to myself, and to thee, my God, and to my fellow men: my theme

shall be thy way of justifying sinners, the glorious display of thy righteousness

and grace in thy dear Son; and this most fresh and never to be exhausted subject

shall be ever with me, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.

Others talk of their beloveds, and they shall be made to hear of mine. I will become

an incessant talker, while this matter lies on my heart, for in all company this subject

will be in season - “for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame,

that seek my hurt.”  As in many other Psalms, the concluding stanzas speak of that

as an accomplished fact, which was only requested in former verses. Faith believes

that she has her request, and she has it. She is the substance of things hoped for

(Hebrews 11:1) - a substance so real and tangible, that it sets the glad soul singing.

Already sin, Satan, and the world are vanquished, and the victory is ours.

“this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4)

 

                           "Sin, Satan, Death appear

                           To harass and appal:

                        Yet since the gracious Lord is near,

                           Backward they go, and fall."

 

                        "We meet them face to face,

                           Through Jesus' conquest blest;

                        March in the triumph of His grace,

                          Right onward to our rest."

 

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