Saturday, June 11, 2022

Persevering Goodness (Psalm 71)

"For You have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth" (Psalm 71:5).

We will forego a study of Psalm 70 because it is a repetition of the final stanza of Psalm 40, which we studied in April. Therefore, we turn our attention to Psalm 71 today. It focuses on the goodness of God as revealed in the way He protects His people through every stage of their lives. In Psalm 71, the psalmist praises God for His divine sovereignty in life from the time of conception until old age. He could look back over his life and remember the way God sustained and protected him. Such glorious remembrances of God’s fatherly care brought comfort in old age with the knowledge that God would continue to care for him. The God who brought him safely from his mother’s womb, who carried him through the trials of his youth, who directed him in the paths of righteousness as he grew to manhood, would not forsake him in his old age.

The psalmist’s enemies sought to discourage him with taunts that God would forsake him now that the vigor and strength of his youth were gone. How easy it would have been to doubt God at this time in his life. When we are young and full of strength, we tend not to recognize fully our dependence on God; however, as our strength wanes with the passing of years, fears can take hold and doubts assail us as we see our “independence” quickly slipping away. Yet, the saint wisely realized that he had never been independent of God, that his own strength, even at its height, never served as the sustaining power in his life. God alone brought him into this world, God alone saved him from the darkness of this world, and God alone would sustain him in his last days.

His faith was strengthened when he meditated on God’s goodness and the many evidences of His merciful love throughout life. Because God gave abundant proofs of His goodness at every stage, his trust remained secure in his final days. “And, indeed, the conclusion is altogether inevitable,” Calvin wrote, “that as God vouchsafed to love us with His favor when we were children, and has continued without intermission to do us good during the whole course of our life, He cannot but persevere in acting toward us in the same way even to the end.”

Compare Isaiah 46:3–4 to Psalm 71. What evidence does God present to you as proof of His faithfulness? What does He promise you? Whether you are young or old, let this bring you comfort. Think about how you can use these passages to encourage someone who is fighting doubts and despair.