PSALM 72 TALK: THE REIGN OF THE KING OF LOVE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

PSALM 72 TALK: THE REIGN OF THE KING OF LOVE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

(JESUS SHALL REIGN WHERE’ER THE SUN DOES ITS SUCCESSIVE JOURNEYS RUN)

 (A Psalm that was written for the coronation of Solomon but which could only be for filled in the Messiah who is Jesus Christ the king of kings. A Psalm that teaches us who Jesus is and in what he has done and will do for us as the true King of love and righteousness.)

 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

 INTRODUCTION

 On Whitsunday of 1862, chiefs of the many tribes of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji gathered under a banyan tree in Samoa with King George of England to accept a new constitution which embodied a Christian form of rule as opposed to a heathen form of government and the first hymn sung that day was Isaac Watts hymn, “Jesus shall reign where’re the sun does its successive journeys run”. A hymn Watts wrote based on his understanding of the message of Psalm 72.

This hymn was written by Watts over 250 years before the Whitsunday service in Samoa and yet it captures the rule of God’s love and righteousness through the message of the Gospel to the whole world.

Some might argue that these people were actually happy, peace loving folk who had no need of deliverance by a foreign imperial message but what those people actually believed and felt on that day is described by a man named George John Stevenson who wrote a book entitled, “Methodist Hymn Book, illustrated with Biography, Incident and Anecdote, Stevenson writes,

“Foremost amongst them all sat King George himself. Around him were seated old chiefs and warriors who had shared with him the dangers and fortunes of many a battle the. Men whose eyes were dim, and whose powerful frames were bowed down with weight of years. But old and young alike rejoiced together in the joys of that day, their faces most of them radiant with Christian joy, love, and hope. It would be impossible to describe the deep feeling manifested when the solemn service began, by the entire audience singing Dr. Watts hymn”.

 Psalm 72 is the last Psalm in the second book of Psalms and includes both a Doxology and Conclusion to that book two of Psalms in its final three verses. The Psalm is believed to be a prayer for the rule of king Solomon, which the Hebrew heading seems to suggest, was written by Solomon with the words, “Of Solomon” which some commentators reject with the translation, “For Solomon”. This is because the idea of Solomon writing his own prayer that also predicts great wealth and prestige for his rule unlikely.

I like the theory of this Psalms origin offered by John Calvin which says that this Psalm was a final prayer of David before he died which gives extra meaning to the last verse of the Psalm which reads,

“This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse”.

 Calvin then speculates that Solomon took the ideas or even the words of David’s prayer and crafted them into a poem or Psalm, he writes,

“The prayer to which David gave utterance on his death-bed were reduced by his son (Solomon) into the form of a psalm, with the view of their being kept in everlasting remembrance”.

 David believed in the prophecy he was given by the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 7: 11b – 16,

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me your throne will be established forever.’”

These prophetic words I believe helped to inspire David to write Psalm 2 which acts as a perfect backdrop to most of the Psalms in book 1 and 2 and I have seen that the words of Psalm 2: 2 – 5 lay behind the main theme of many of the Psalms of books one and two of Psalms, namely the theme of “The struggles of the anointed King and his followers”. Psalm 2 is then a perfect introduction to most of the Psalms of books 1 and 2 of Psalms, it reads this way,

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,“Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” 10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him”.

Psalm 72 seems to be focused on the second half of Psalm 2, which is the message of a king to come described as in 6- 8 this way,

“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession”.

I think that David thought in his prayer that his son Solomon would for fill the prophecy of his words in Psalm 2. To some extent we will see that Solomon did for fill some of this prophecy but as we saw in my study of Psalm 2 the full and complete for fulfilment of this and many other prophecies like it were only fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah which we as Christians believe is in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

So my answer to the question of:

Is this Psalm a Messianic Psalm?

Is yes and no, as I think it is first and foremost is a prayer for the coronation of King Solomon but its lofty ideals and extent of its prediction of his rule where not achieved in his life and rule as king. Therefore the fulfilment of the Kings lofty ideals and extent of his rule where only fulfilled in the messiah who again we believe is non- other than Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Jesus says this about Solomon and himself in Matthew 12: 42,

“The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here”.

Jesus is the one greater than Solomon because unlike Solomon he is the true Messiah. In this Psalm talk we will see why Jesus is the one greater than Solomon in how he fulfils all the lofty claims of the king described in the Psalm.

 I pray that we will learn a bit more about the mighty and loving rule of Jesus Christ and how he wants us to be his faithful servants taking his wonderful gospel message to the world just as many missionaries have done over the many centuries since Christ went back to heaven. Like the missionaries who took the Gospel message to the Pacific Islands of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji and continue to take the Gospel to countries all over the world as Isaac Watts envisaged in the first verse of his hymn that reads,

Jesus shall reign where’re the sun

Does its successive journeys run,

His kingdom stretch fro shore to shore,

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

I will quote more of this amazing hymn in different parts of this Psalm talk.

The Psalm contains both prayer and predictions and this is what lays at the heart of my heading selection and titles for this Psalm:

  1. (1 – 4) PRAYER AND PREDICTION FOR A WISE AND JUST RULE
  1. (5 – 11) PREDICTION OF A LONG WORLD WIDE PROSPEROUS RULE
  1. (12 – 14) PREDICTION OF A LOVING RULE
  1. (15 – 17) PRAYER FOR A LONG AND BLESSED RULE
  1. (18 – 20) BOOK TWO DOXOLOGY AND CONCLUSION
  1. (1 – 4) PRAYER AND PREDICTION FOR A WISE AND JUST RULE

 I have broken this first section into two parts:

  1. Prayer for a wise and just rule (vs.1)
  2. Prediction of a wise and just rule (vs’s 2 – 4)
  1. Prayer for a wise and just rule (vs. 1)

 David’s prayer for his son seems to set the tone for at least the early life and rule of King Solomon his son as it is prayer for his son to rule with justice and righteousness,

“Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness”.

 To rule with justice and righteousness is to rule like God with great wisdom and holiness. This is what Solomon right at the beginning of his rule as king asks God for recorded in 1 Kings 3: 4 – 15,

“The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honour—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.

He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he gave a feast for all his court”.

Solomon is then known in Israel and throughout the world of his time as a wise and just ruler. This reputation spreads to the distant land a Sheba in North Africa and around the middle of his reign the Queen of Sheba decides to make the long journey to Israel to check out this famous wise and by then rich king.

I will say a bit more about the Queen of Sheba later but for now I must say that Solomon’s wise just ruling seems to have soured by the end of his life as we read this about his reputation after his death in 1 Kings 12: 4,

“Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

 These words were spoken by Jeroboam a man who wanted to take over the kingship of Israel from Solomon’s son Rehoboam who’s response to this was to listen to unwise council which recommended that he should actually be more ruthless than his father in his treatment of the people.

This leads Jeroboam to be able to set up a rival kingdom to the north of Judah with 10 tribes of Israel and the David / Solomon kingdom is split into two, Israel to the North and Judah to the south.

So David’s prayer for his son Solomon to rule with justice and righteousness is eventually answered with a no because of Solomon and his son’s disobedience to the expressed law of God in how he wanted kings to govern his people.

The final summary of Solomon’s rule declares how he ends up falling away from God and the high just and righteous rule this Psalm sets down for him as we read this about his rule in its later stages in 1 Kings 11: 4 – 13,

“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.

On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.

The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

This becomes the message of the bible form Solomon on that God’s people under the leadership of most of their kings and rulers disobeyed God’s law and turned to other God’s and because of this God judges his people’s sins which eventually leads to the death of the kingdom of Israel in the north and the end of the line of David in the south when the people of Judah are taken into captivity by the Babylonians.

This is the background story to the coming of the Messiah and Jeremiah the prophet tells Judah of their coming judgment and doing so speaks a further word of prophecy about the coming of the Messiah king in Jeremiah 23: 5 – 5,

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior”.

  1. Prediction of a wise and just rule (vs’s 2 – 4)

Psalm 72 then makes its first prediction about this king of Love and righteousness and we read in verses 2 to 4 this prediction,

“He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy, he will crush the oppressor”.

 We have seen that this picture of the rule of Solomon only partially fits as it seems in the early part of his reign he did rule something like we read in this prediction and because he did his fame and honor spread throughout the world of that time. 1 Kings 4: 29 – 34 describes something of the wisdom and mighty name Solomon had in the early part of his reign,

 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. 32 He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 33 He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 34 From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom”.

However this glowing picture of the wise and just rule of Solomon eventually sours and as I pointed out in the first part of this first section of my Psalm talk Solomon finishes up a hard, unjust and unwise ruler who turned away from following the Lord. He seems to be a reflection of the famous term,

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

 First coined by a 19th centaury historian named John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton.

Therefore this prediction of the rule of a great king to come is only full filled in the Messiah king who we believe is in fact Jesus Christ. Lets look at this prediction bit by bit to understand what kind of rule Jesus has.

I see three predictions for the rule of the Messiah King Jesus Christ:

  1. Righteousness and Justice (vs. 2)
  2. Prosperity (vs. 3)
  3. Vindication of the oppressed (vs. 4)
  1. Righteousness and Justice (vs. 2)

Verse 2 speaks of a perfect rule of righteousness and justice,

“He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice

 The king here is depicted as ruling as God in heaven rules with righteousness and justice. David Collins explains God’s righteousness this way on his web page entitled True Bible Foundations in Christianity,

The Hebrew word for “righteous” is tsedek, which is defined as follows: “Rightness, straightness, rectitude; justice of a judge, of a king, of God exhibited in punishing the wicked, or in avenging, delivering, rewarding the righteous.” Another Hebrew word is mishpat, which means righteous judgment as a judge.

This “righteousness” of God is contrasted with so called human righteous rule by picking up the idea that even the poor or afflicted members of the kingdom of this king are ruled with righteousness and justice. This kind of rule certainly did not characterize the over all rule of Solomon as we have already seen so it is then a rule of a Messiah king that is spoke of hear.

Isaiah who has much to say and predict about the coming Messiah spoke of the Messiah’s rule this way in Isaiah 11: 3- 5,

“He will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist”.

History has shown that because of man’s sinfulness the people who suffer the most under unrighteous rule is the poor and needy but this is not the case in the rule of Jesus Christ. His rule is one of total righteousness and justice as we read in Hebrews 1 verse 8,

“But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom”.

  1. Prosperity (vs. 3)

The second part of the Messiah’s rule to come is that of great prosperity which will come to those who live under his rule,

“The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness”.

Albert Barnes explains the meaning of this verse this way,

“The idea in this verse is that the land would be full of peace and the fruits of peace”.

He explains the use of mountains bringing prosperity this way,

“On the mountains and on the hills in the land there would be abundant harvests, the result of peace (so strongly in contrast with the desolation of war). – all showing the advantages of a peaceful reign”.

Mountain tops are not usually the most fertile of places for crops to grow so the metaphor not only describes the land of Israel but the fact that even on rocky mountain tops crops will grow a picture of unusual and great prosperity.

Again certainly in the early part of Solomon’s rule great prosperity came to him and his people but as we have already seen God’s prosperity to Solomon was not enough for him and by the end of his rule he was taxing his people so badly that he laid a heavy burden on them and of course the people who suffer the most under this kind of rule are the poor and afflicted.

For the followers of Christ the prosperity of the rule of Christ is spoken about in the New Testament as first and foremost in spiritual terms.

Paul had much to say about this in the book of Romans. Paul speaks in the opening chapter of Romans that the message of the Gospel is the power of God to save us and involves the message of God’s righteousness, Romans 1: 16 – 17,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

In chapter 5 verse 17, Paul speaks of God’s gift of righteousness,

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”

At the start of this chapter Paul sets down what the abundant provision of his grace actually is, Romans 5: 1 – 5,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

So out of all of this comes the prosperity both spiritual and physical that all true followers of Christ enjoy. Just living life the way God wants us to live seems to bring to people some form of prosperity in this life. This is the fruits of putting Jesus and his kingdom first as Jesus tells us to do and predicts a prosperous life in Matthew 6: 33 – 34,

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.

  1. Vindication of the oppressed (vs. 4)

Verse 4 seems to spell out part of the prediction in verse 2 of a result of the rule of the Messiah King namely that of the vindication of the afflicted also here spoken of hear as the needy and oppressed,

“He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy, he will crush the oppressor”.

As I pointed out in verse 2 in all earthly Godless rule it is the poor and needy who suffer the most. A casual glance at history will reveal the fact that in both ancient and modern political systems the poor and needy have never faired well. Even in modern socialistic regimes like the former U.S.S. R where the workers controlled the state poverty and extortion reigned supreme. Sinful society always seems to have both the have and the have nots and so often those who have find ways of taking even more from those who have not.

Solomon’s rule started out being fair and just but as Solomon fell to the corruption of wealth and the morally negative influence of his foreign wives he too extorted his people for greater wealth.

This is the opposite way of the rule of Christ as predicted by great prophets Isaiah as we saw Isaiah 11: 3 – 5 and as we also see in passage like Isaiah 42: 1 – 4,

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

So right through the ministry of Jesus we see the fulfilment of the rule of a just king and saviour as declared in verse 4 of Psalm 72 that speaks of three things:

  1. Defence of the afflicted
  2. Saving the needy
  3. Crushing the oppressor

All these is seen in the example of Jesus healing leapers, forgiving prostitutes, giving sight to the blind and calling forgiven sinners to follow him like tax collectors etc. When John the Baptist in his darkest hour was tempted to doubt who he believed Jesus was as the Messiah come to earth he sent messages to Jesus to gain clarification and this is what Jesus told his messages to tell John, Luke 7: 22 – 23,

“So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Jesus sets forth the characteristics of the followers of his kingdom in what has been called the beatitudes and in Matthew 5: 3 – 12, we read this,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you”.

 This outworking of Psalm 72: 4 in the Christian era has seen the coming of a great change in the fate of the poor with Christian influenced inwestern democracies offering far more opportunities for the poor and needy to prosper. Also Christians when motivated by the love of Christ have reached out to help the poor and needy.

However Christians even in western democracies are at best a small majority so we still see injustice and affliction of the poor in these countries as well. However Christ offers all his followers life now and in the future in heaven as he declares in John 10: 10,

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.

 This is a promise of spiritual life that promises to all followers of Christ great spiritual blessings like Paul speaks of in Galatians 5: 22 – 23,

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.

  1. (5 – 11) PREDICTION OF A LONG WORLD WIDE PROSPEROUS RULE

I have broken this second section of this Psalm into 3 parts:

  1. A Long Rule (vs.5)
  2. A prosperous rule (6 – 7)
  3. A World wide rule (8 – 11)
  1. A Long Rule (vs. 5)

Verse 5 of what we believe to be David’s final prayer for his son’s rule set down poetically the idea of a long rule. It is not unusual for coronation prayers or hymns to contain the prayer or hope of a long rule. After each king or Queen of England died the saying was,

“The king (or queen) is dead long May the king (or queen) live”.

 But verse 5 is speaking of the eternal reign of the coming Messiah king. Lets look at this verse and see what it is saying.

Verse 5,

“He will endure a long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations”.

 How David thought his son Solomon as the Messiah king would reign so long is not certain maybe he saw his son and the kings that would come from him reigning for ever. We cannot be certain but the image is of a very long time as he speaks of the reign being as long as the sun in the sky comes up each day. The parallel rhyming

Thought is the moon, the light of the night always shinning in the night’s sky. To make sure we get the image he adds the words, “through all generations”.

 This is the verse of the Psalm that inspired Isaac Watts to write the first verse of his hymn based on this psalm,

Jesus shall reign where’re the sun

Does its successive journeys run,

His kingdom stretch fro shore to shore,

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

Indeed Solomon failed to be the great Messiah king or the start of a Messiah kingly reign from generation to generation in Israel.

No this prediction is fulfilled in Jesus as Watts hymn records. Jesus is the king of kings who reigns forever as we read in Revelation 11: 15,

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

 It is amazing that Isaac Watts wrote his hymn over 200 years before the start of the modern world wide missionary endeavors started. Watts in this verse of his hymn envisages the reign of Jesus from shore to shore as the message of the Gospel comes to nation after nation and the rule of Christ comes to these new lands. Other verses of his hymn make this even clearer like verse 3,

People and realms of every tongue

Dwell on his love with sweetest song,

And infant voices shall proclaim

Their early blessings on his name.

This idea of the reign of Christ through coming of the kingdom of God to people and nations here on earth is part of the New Testaments prediction and plan for the Gospel age we now still living in. As Jesus predicts will happen in Matthew 24: 14,

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”.

  1. A prosperous rule (6 – 7)

 The next two verses speak again of the prosperity this Messiah kingly reign will bring, verse 6 speaks of this prosperity this way,

“He will be like rain falling on mown field, like showers watering the earth”.

Leupold explains the image used here this way,

“Such a reign is thought of as being like unto the blessed rain that descends upon the fields from which the crops have been removed in the harvest and are now being prepared by the heavens gift for further fertility”.

This is a image of a long and constant blessed reign of the Messiah king. As I have stated a few times Solomon started his reign like this, prosperous and blessed but through the corruption of riches, the bad influence of foreign wives and the failure of Solomon to seek only the wisdom of God Solomon’s rule as king became a nightmare of corruption and poverty for most of his people.

Only in the rule and reign of the true Messiah king, Jesus Christ can such a prosperous long rule of blessing be realised. Jesus speaks of the coming of his kingdom, his rule in heaven and on earth as being like a great feast or banquet. In Matthew 22 he likens his kingdom to a wedding banquet and how people are invited to this banquet but many refuse the invitation. Jesus then says this in Matthew 22: 8 – 10,

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’

10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests”.

I believed for a long time that the image of the wedding banquet here is that of heaven but recently I have started to think that the banquet is not just the kingdom of God gathered in heaven but also includes the kingdom of God gathered here on earth. When Christians gather together in the church here on earth we are partaking in a taste of our heavenly destiny of gathering together under the kingship of Christ and enjoying something of Christ’s prosperity and blessings from his rule here on earth.

People are invited to this banquet or gathering of the Kingdom of God under the rule of Christ through the preaching of the Gospel as Jesus as predicted in Matthew 24: 14,

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”.

This is why Jesus last great command to his disciples and us is Mark 16: 15 – 16 is,

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.

 Matthew puts Jesus great last command this way in Matthew 28: 18 – 20,

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Note how Jesus here speaks of the end of the age, this is called by many The Gospel Age” the very age we live in and so the prosperity and blessing Jesus offers comes through the preaching of the Gospel and the making of disciples of all nations.

This joy and blessing of the prosperity of the preaching of the Gospel was well documented concerning the Whitsunday church service in 1862 when chiefs of the many tribes of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji gathered under a banyan tree in Samoa with King George of England. The writer of the Methodist hymnbook introduction makes this further observation and comment about the Polynesian chief’s or kings who gathered that day as they sang Isaac Watts hymn, “Jesus shall reign where’re the sun does its successive journeys run”

“Who so much as they could realize the full meaning of the poet’s words? For they had been rescued from the darkness of heathenism and cannibalism and they were that day met for the first time under a Christian constitution, under a Christian king, and with Christ Himself reigning in their hearts of most present. That was indeed Christ’s kingdom set up on the earth”.

 Other observers have reported they saw tears of joy in the eyes of many of the men and women who gathered that day which reflects the spiritual blessings of those who acknowledge the sovereign rule of Christ presented to them through the message of the Gospel.

Verse 7 continues this theme of prosperous rule of the true Messiah King,

“In his days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more”.

 Again Solomon did start with a prosperous rule but as James Coffman points out,

“However his (Solomon’s) excessive taxation to support his hundreds of wives and concubines, his building of temples to their gods, the extravagant magnificence of his reign, and his expensive military establishment with some 40,000 horses, resulted finally in the rebellion against his successor and the rejection of the Davidic dynasty by the vast majority of the nation, ten of the twelve tribes going with Jeroboam 1”.

 No the prosperity of the righteous people of real faith in God flourishing is only realised in the rule of the true Messiah King, Jesus Christ. The verse picks up the description of the length of this rule as similar to what was referred to in verse 5, namely as long as the moon shines at night in the sky. Jesus pushes the length of his rule beyond the existence of the moon in Matthew 24: 35,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”.

 The ultimate fulfilment of this eternal prosperity will come when Jesus returns to establishment of the new Kingdom of Heaven on earth with Christ ruling with no opposition for eternity spoken about so vividly in Revelation 21: 1 – 5,

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

This then is the future prosperous rule of Christ but even now before that great day comes there is hope and prosperity for the followers of Christ. At the start of the letter to the Ephesians Paul has a lofty and wonderful description of the hope and blessings we have in Christ, he starts this amazing praise and description of the prosperous rule of Christ in all believers in verse 1 Chapter 1 of Ephesians,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ”.

Many years ago I had two young Mormon missionaries come to the door of my house and ask if they could come into my home and give it and me a blessing. I refused entry to these two young men and said I don’t need their blessing because I am already blessed as a believer in Christ with all the blessings he can give from heaven. They were quite surprised with my answer and left.

But he point is when Christ rules in our hearts he promises to give us so much in the future and even in the present he gives us all the blessings he can give us from heaven. Paul goes on for the next 10 verses to spell out what some of these great heavenly blessings are, Ephesians 1: 4 – 14,

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory”.

  1. A World wide rule (8 – 11)

The next little section of the coronation prayer of David for his son Solomon speaks of a great expansive rule for his son which again was partially fulfilled in Solomon’s rule and Israel’s kingdom and Solomon’s rule covered the greatest area of any time in Israel’s long history. In fact the territory Solomon ruled over would never be seen again after his death.

This great kingdom however is no where near the poetic description this coronation prayer gives it, verse 8 for instances reads,

“He will rule from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth”.

 Kidner speculates that the poetic image of sea to sea is taken from Exodus 23: 31,

“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you”.

However other commentators see this and the verses that follow being a poetic picture of universal rule of the entire known world of that time. First we have verse 9,

May the desert tribes bow before him and his enemies lick the dust.

The poetic image of desert tribes and all his enemies licking the dust from his feet far exceeds what Solomon achieved in his life –time. The idea of people licking the kings feet is explained well by Albert Barnes,

“This is expressive of the most thorough submission and abject humiliation, It is language derived from what seems actually to occur in Oriental countries, where people prostrate themselves on their faces, and place their mouths on the ground, in token of reverence or submission”.

 Certainly Solomon had people acknowledging him as a wise and rich ruler by kings from a vast area of the known world of his time. Speaking of the wealth and fame of King Solomon 1 Kings 10: 23 – 24 says this,

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 24 The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 25 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules”.

This reference in 1 Kings also relates to the next two verses 10 – 11,

“The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him”.

Tarshish could be Tarkesses a city of ancient Spain which Leupold says was the,

“Limits of the westernmost part of the world” of Solomon’s time. Leupold goes on to identify the other two places mentioned,

“To the east in southern Arabia lies the ancient Sheba and to the south in Cush or Ethiopia lies the realm known as Seba”.

Sheba actually gets a mention in the brief 1 Kings account of Solomon’s rule in 1 Kings 10: 1 – 13 when we have the story of the Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon in Jerusalem to see for herself fame, wealth and Wisdom of Solomon.

The Queen of Sheba’s assessment of Solomon and his rule as king is in 1 Kings 10: 6 – 9,

“She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”

However this glowing picture of the extensive acceptance of Solomon’s rule as king soon comes to a end as in the years following the visit of the Queen of Sheba Solomon’s rule takes a nose dive as the influence of many foreign wives, great wealth and a turning away from following the Lord leads Solomon to get this damming assessment of his rule in 1 Kings 11: 9 – 13,

The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

So the world -wide rule of Solomon does not come true in his reign but these verses like many in this Psalm become a kind of prophecy for the great Messiah King to come.

Paul says this about the return of Jesus in Philippians 2: 9 – 11,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

So Jesus the Messiah King alone fulfils this prediction of a great world- wide view and especially the prediction of Psalm 72 verse 11,

“All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him”.

 Jesus, I have already mentioned referred to the visit to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and declares in Matthew 12: 42b,

“And now something greater than Solomon is here”.

Two verses of Isaac Watts great hymn based on this Psalm has two verses not generally sung today which reflect his understanding of these verses, he writes,

Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
from north to south the prince’s meet,
to pay their homage at His feet.

 Their Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold;
And barbarous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.

 Watts paraphrases the places mentioned in verse 10 to Persia, India and what he calls barbarous nations. He also speaks of the kings of Europe from North to South paying homage to Jesus the king of kings. Michael Hawn writes,

“For these biblical names, Watts substitutes Persia and India. Persia and India may have been considered to be the locations of these cities during Watts’s time, but they were also places of economic importance in the British Empire in the 18th century”.

 As I have already said Watts hymn is truly visionary as he sees with eyes of faith how Jesus will be acknowledge one day world wide even before his second coming as the fulfilment of the reign of the great king of God. As he also writes in verse 3,

People and realms of every tongue

Dwell on his love with sweetest song.

And infant voices shall proclaim’

Their early blessings of his name.

This was made possible by the great missionary endeavours of thousands of missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world.

Michael Hawn concludes he thoughts on this great hymn with these words,

“Within the context of the church, “Jesus shall reign” is often considered one of the earliest mission hymns, though as UM Hymnal editor Carlton Young points out, “the text did not come into general use until the greatly expanded missionary activity of the nineteenth century.”

Regardless of the author’s intent, this hymn certainly coincided with the rise of the British Empire, and it would have been likely that a congregation in England who sang this psalm paraphrase in the 18th century would have made a link—consciously or subconsciously—between the Empire and phrases like “his kingdom spread from shore to shore” in stanza one”.

 This great missionary work continues today so that Jesus prediction in Matthew 24: 14 can be fulfilled,

 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”.

We all have a part to play in this great mission to the world that Jesus calls us all to be involved in. Whether it be going short term (as I am doing) or long term to countries far from our own comfort zone or to pray and help financially those who are serving right now in this great missionary endeavour.

  1. (12 – 14) PREDICTION OF A LOVING RULE

The theme’s of this Psalm keep reappearing in different ways in this prayer for the coronation of King Solomon. The loving or merciful nature or characteristic of the kings rule returns in verses 12 – 14 having already appearing in verses 2 and 4. Now in verse 12 the prayer predicts:

“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help”.

 Watt’s in his hymn based on this verse interprets the afflicted as being the prisoners probably both physically and spiritually in verse 4 of his hymn, which reads,

“Blessings abound where’re he reigns;

The prisoners leap to lose their chains,

The weary find eternal rest,

And all who suffer want are blest”.

Solomon at least by the end of his reign was acting in the opposite to this for after his death one of his enemies Jeroboam says this of Solomon’s rule in 1 Kings 12: 4,

“Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

So Solomon at least by the later part of his reign failed to show love and mercy to the poor and afflicted people of his kingdom. This too was only fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah king Jesus Christ. This is what Isaac Watts is speaking about in his hymn based on this Psalm.

Spiritually we are all afflicted, poor and in great need of God’s love and mercy, known as Grace in the New Testament. Paul speaks in a number of places about how God acting in grace delivers us from our great need and spiritual affliction. I like how he puts it in Ephesians 2: 1 – 7,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

 Psalm 72 verse 13 explains even further how the loving King operates in the lives of the needy, which I have just said is all of us spiritually, verse 13 says,

“He will take pity on the weak and needy and save the needy from death”.

 Solomon certainly later in his reign took pity on non of his subjects and his son Rehoboam was even more merciless as he listens to his young friends advice that says, 1 Kings 12: 10 – 11,

“The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”

 This foolish advice acts as the catalyst to the Northern rebellion and Solomon’s son Rehoboam looses the support of 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel.

 Yes it is only in Jesus the great Messiah king that the words of verse 13 are totally fulfilled. He took pity on the weak and needy of his day and helped many but of course spiritually he takes pity on all of us and provides a way a deliverance or salvation through his death on the cross. He indeed through his death saves us from eternal death.

Verse 14 makes this message of our salvation under the great Messiah King even clearer, when it says,

“He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight”.

 Jesus split his blood on the cross to save us from eternal death so much was his love for us. The writer to the Hebrews puts its this way in Hebrews 9: 14,

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

John 3: 16 makes it very clear how much the rule of Jesus is a rule of love because it simply says,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

That’s what those chief’s and kings of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji who gathered under a banyan tree in Samoa with King George of England on Whitsunday 1862 had responded to and rejoiced in the singing of Isaac Watts hymn, “Jesus shall reign where’re the sun” and the last verse of that hymn speaks of the praise Jesus our deliverer king deserves,

Let every creature rise and bring

The highest honors to our King,

Angels descend with songs again,

And earth repeat the loud amen.

  1. (15 – 17) PRAYER FOR A LONG AND BLESSED RULE

 As a said in the last section certain themes about the reign of this great king of love and righteousness keep re-appearing in this Psalm. The two re-appearing themes in this fourth section of the coronation of the Kings prayer are that of long rule and a blessed rule.

I have broken this section into:

  1. The prayer for a long rule (15a and 17a)
  2. Blessed rule (15b – 16 and 17b)
  1. The prayer for a long rule (15a and 17a)

 So lets look first at what this section has to say about a long rule.

Verse 17a reads,

“Long may he live!”

Like the kings and queens of England when a king or queen died the prayer or expressed hope of the people was, “The king or queen is dead long live the king or queen”. So all kingdoms of the earth would wish their king a long rule achieved by a long life. Of course as a king or queen got into their reign this prayer or hope of the people could fade if that king or queen turned out to be a godless tyrant.

Unfortunately Solomon who this coronation prayer was for turned out to be a godless tyrant and his legacy was to produce a unstable country with a even more Godless tyrant of a son, Rehoboam who’s harsh and godless rule forced a massive rebellion of the people of Israel and the north separated into a kingdom under the rule of the leader of that rebellion Jeroboam. The sad tale of this rebellion and the start of the end of the rule of the house of David over all Israel is recorded in 1 Kings 12.

We pick up the crucial part of this story in 1 Kings 12: 12 – 17,

Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” 13 The king answered the people harshly.

Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”

15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfil the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.

16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:

“What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them”.

Solomon because of his turning away from the Lord only ruled for forty years as 1 Kings 11: 42 a relative short reign so he did not fulfil the hope and prayer for a long reign.

This hope and prayer was answered in the great Messiah King, Jesus Christ and as I quoted before Revelation 11: 15 describes the length of the reign of Christ this way,

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

 Jesus reign as the heavenly king is eternal as he is the Alpha and the Omega or beginning and the end as Revelation 1: 8 clearly says.

Then in verse 17a we have this eternal reign of the great king prayed for with these words,

“May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun”.

 Spurgeon writes,

“While time is measured out by days, Jesus shall be glorious among men”.

 Certainly we still remember the name Solomon some 3,000 years after his death but the mighty name of the great Messiah King Jesus Christ is eternal. Watts puts it so beautifully in the second verse of his him, Jesus shall reign where’re the Sun” this ways,

To him shall endless prayer be made,

And praises throng to crown his head

His name like sweet perfume shall rise

With every morning sacrifice.

Jesus then is our eternal king who gives us the gift of eternal life when we deserved eternal death because of are many sins as Romans 6: 23 puts it,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

  1. Blessed rule (15b – 16 and 17b)

 This section also returns to the theme of a prosperous or in this section-blessed rule of the future king. Verse 15b – 16 reads like this,

“May gold from Sheba be given him. May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long. Let grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon.”

 We have seen that the first point of this prayer was fully answered in the visit of the queen of Sheba in the glorious early part of Solomon’s reign. She came to visit Solomon because of the wide spread word of the Godly Wisdom of Solomon and she was so impressed she gave him gifts which included gold. At this stage Solomon is a great witness to the one true God of heaven and earth and the Queen of Sheba is so impressed with his Godly wisdom and rule she says this in 1 Kings 10: 9,

“Praise be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.”

 The following verse goes on to say,

“And she gave the king 120 talents of gold”.

 These verses also speak of other precious gifts given to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba.

The Queen of Sheba’s words here also fulfil the final words of verse 15 of the Psalm,

“May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long”.

 I have pointed out a couple of times already Jesus words about this visit of the Queen of Sheba and how he says in Matthew 12: 42b,

“And now something greater than Solomon is here”.

Solomon’s righteous and Godly rule did not last long as a few years after the Queen of Sheba’s visit Solomon went down the slippery slope of marriage to many foreign wives and the decline that brought immorality and Godlessness. He turned to the worship of other God’s and the wisdom of man, which he spells out the futility of in his book of Ecclesiastes.

Jesus however fulfils this verse more completely and even receives a gift of gold at his birth by wise men from the east as we read in Matthew 2: 10 – 11,

“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh”.

From the Shepherds and few years later the wise men the second half of verse 15 is fulfilled namely,

“May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long”.

 This is a universal worship of Jesus as the king as the second half of verse 17 declares,

“All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed”.

 As I write this Psalm talk I remember back three or four weeks now when I was on yet another teaching mission trip to Colleges and churches in, for me, far away Myanmar or as it was known before Burma.

I remember how I joined with faithful followers of Jesus Christ who joined with me to pray to and worship Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. When I experience this kind of cross cultural worship and fellowship I am reminded of the words of Paul in Galatians 3: 26 – 29,

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.

Some commentators have suggested that the promise to Abraham and his seed that Paul speaks of here lies behind a number of the concepts of this Psalm. The passage in Genesis they refer to on this is Genesis 12: 2 – 3,

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”.

Israel and in Psalm 72 Solomon as descendants of Abraham had the opportunity of fulfilling this promise at least in part but they always seemed to end up a poor witness to the God who called them. Like Solomon many stories of the Old Testament people start with some promise and there is hope for God centred witness but through turning away from the one true God they end up as a false witness to God and therefore fail to realise the blessing God wants to give them.

However in Jesus Christ the great promise of verse 17 is fully realised. Through Jesus,

“All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed”.

Isaac Watts writes in his fourth verse about this blessing of Christ to the nations:

Blessings abound where’re he reigns;

The prisoners leap to loose their chains,

The weary find eternal rest,

And all who suffer want are blest.”

 Earlier in Paul’s word about this promise of God’s blessing to the Nations given to Abraham and fulfilled in Christ Paul says this in Galatians 3: 14,

“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit”.

 Finally then what about these words in verse 16,

“Let grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon: let it thrive like the grass of the field”.

 This is yet another concept spoken of before in verse 3 of this Psalm used again in verse 16. In verse 3 I commented on the fact that crops usually don’t flourish in the tops of mountains or rocky hill as there is in Israel. So for an agricultural society like ancient Israel the image of crops abounding on the top of mountains or rocky hills is a very real image of God’s blessing on his people. Coffman explains it this way,

“The psalmist is sure that in a kingdom where righteousness, justice, truth and compassion are in control that, not merely fertility but extraordinary fruitfulness would be given to such a nation”.

 Maybe fruit flourishing on trees like Lebanon is a reference to the great tree forests of Lebanon again another powerful image of great agricultural blessings from God to the people of Solomon’s day and the people of ancient Israel.

This great promise of blessing and prosperity is fulfilled totally in Christ in spiritual terms. As Paul puts it in Colossians 1: 13 – 14,

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”.

And as John puts it in Revelation 1: 4b – 6,

“Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen”.

  1. (18 – 20) BOOK TWO DOXOLOGY AND CONCLUSION

We come then to what most commentators call a doxology and conclusion not for this Psalm but for the second book of Psalms.

Coffman puts it this way,

“Again, as at the end of book 1 of the Psalter, we have a doxology, closed with a double Amen. These doxologies were doubtless added by the devout men who compiled and organized the various divisions of the Psalms”.

 Added to this doxology is a verse that seems to be some kind of conclusion to the Psalms of David.

Lets look then at:

  1. The doxology of book 2 of the Psalms (18 – 19)
  2. The conclusion to the main Psalms of David (20)
  1. The doxology of book 2 of the Psalms (18 – 19)

 There is no doubt this is a doxology to the second book of Psalms as something similar is in the last Psalm of each book. Book 1 is Psalm 41: 13, book two Psalm 72: 18 – 19, Book 3 is Psalm 89: 52, book 4 is Psalm 106: 48 and the final words of the last Psalm in book 5 are a fitting conclusion to all the Psalms, Psalm 150: 6,

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord”.

 However I am tempted to see these two doxology verses as a fitting end to Psalm 72, although I still feel they were written by later editors of the Psalms rather than Solomon. The other possibility is that Solomon had a hand in the editing process of book 2 and then of course could have been the author of the doxology as well.

With all this in mind let’s look closely at each verse. First we have verse 18,

“Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvellous deeds”.

 If Solomon wrote this later in his life or by Psalm editors after Solomon’s death then what this verse is saying is a sobering truth as we have seen throughout this Psalm that Solomon’s rule turned out to be a disaster. The writer of 1 Kings records God’s words to the northern rebel Jeroboam who sets up a rival Kingdom in the North that attracts 10 0f the 12 tribes of Israel after Solomon dies. God says through the prophet Ahijah to the rebel Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11: 30 – 33, what turns out to be a damming condemnation of the reign of Solomon,

“And Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes. 32 But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. 33 I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did”.

So Solomon could not be praised as king and either could any king who followed him, sure a few like Josiah, Hezekiah and Jehoshaphat did turn to the Lord but still made mistakes and fell to different sins.

No God alone does marvellous deeds as the verse declares. God alone can be trusted, as we have seen in a number of Psalms in this second book of Psalms. God alone is the great king of heaven and earth through the reign of his son Jesus Christ. As another famous doxology put it, Jude 24 – 25,

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savoir be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen”.

Then we have verse 19, which reads like this,

“Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen”.

 Coffman picks up the point that the expression,

May the whole earth be filled with his glory”.

 Comes from a very similar expression in Numbers 14: 21,

“”Surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth”.

 A verse that comes from Moses prayer to God for forgiveness for his people sin’s of rebellion to the Lord after they heard the spies report of the land of Canaan when out in the wilderness.

Using these words from Moses desperate prayer the editor or editors of the second book of Psalms brings the book to a conclusion. Just as the people of God failed to serve the Lord faithful and true so too did king Solomon yet God still loved his people and that love is really the heart of God’s marvellous deeds.

This love of God for his people lies behind so much of this second book of Psalms and over and over again the Psalms in it mainly written by King David call for us to Praise God’s glorious name. iHHis name is his nature, who he is and what he has done for us and that alone should lead us to praise his glorious name forever.

The doxology closes with a double Amen. Albert Barnes explains well the meaning of the double Amen,

“The expression is double to denote intensity of feeling. It is the going out of the heart full of desire that this might be so”.

 I am reminded of the final words of the book of Revelation, which is the last words of the entire bible, Revelation 22: 20 – 21,

“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen”.

  1. The conclusion to the main Psalms of David (20)

Then we have a curious final verse that again seems to be an editorial addition to the conclusion of the second book of Psalms which reads,

“This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse”

 I wrote this in my introduction to the Psalms about meaning of this verse,

“Which he (the editor or editors) believed to be true at the time of the second books compilation this was all of the Psalms of David that was known. Of course there are 17 more Psalms of David spread out in book 3, 4 and 5”.

 Another interesting theory of this verse, first put forward by the famous 17th century commentator Matthew Henry is that Psalm 71 and 72 were literally the final recorded prayers of David. Psalm 71 is David’s prayer for himself in the final years of his long life and rule and Psalm 72 is his prayer for his son probably written up as a Psalm by Solomon himself but based on what his father prayed for him before he died.

This theory would mean that the verse literally says:

“This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse”

 This theory and I must state, theory is attractive to me because I have seen that the bulk of the Psalms of books 1 and 2 of Psalms are Psalms and prayers of David and from now on other writers take over the writing of the Psalms. David is only attributed to writing 1 Psalm in book 3 and 2 in book four but 15 in book five.

So it seems logical to suggest that books 1 and 2 have been collated as primarily David collections and as the occasional David composition came to light to later Psalm editors they were included in the new collections.

We will see from my next Psalm talk on Psalm 73 that a new author Asaph a chief musician in the later reign of David and the reign of Solomon takes over as the prominent contributor to the Psalms along with the Sons of Korah and a man named Etham the Ezrahite making one contribution at the end of book three.

I will have more to say about this in my introduction to Psalm 73 and the third book of Psalms.

So we come to the end of book 2 of Psalms and we have seen again the working out of the same main theme of book 2 namely the struggle between God’s true King and his followers and the false King and his followers. These struggles caused their writers namely David to call out to God for deliverance and protection and always seemed to end with a word of praise God’s protection and deliverance.

Psalm 72 presents the ultimate answer to the great spiritual struggle we are all involved in namely the coming of a great king who will rule the people of God with love and righteousness. That great king is Jesus Christ our Lord who defeated death and the Devil on the cross of Calvary and was raised from the dead in victory and now rules his kingdom with love and righteousness.

My final New Testament quote is the one I have already quoted twice before in this study Revelation 11: 15,

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

 I close as usual with a poem and a prayer.

JESUS WILL REIGN FOREVER MORE

(Based on Psalm 72)

 Jesus will Reign for- ever more

His Kingdom will stretch from shore to shore

Justice and peace will reign supreme

As we acknowledge his mighty name.

 

God will judge all who have turned away

But he has provided us a way.

Jesus did die for our sins on the cross

And all we have to do is turn and trust.

 

God will now bless his people’s lives

Even the poor will one -day rise

Blessing will flow from the Lord above

He rules this world with eternal love.

 

All people on that day will bow to him

All nations will serve Jesus as king.

And those who turned and called to the Lord

Will be saved from death by his mighty word.

 

All nations are blessed by Jesus our Lord

When they turn from sin to follow his word.

They will rise up to praise his great name

For Jesus will return to evermore reign.

 

Jesus will reign for ever more

His Kingdom will stretch from shore to shore

Justice and peace will reign supreme

As we acknowledge his mighty name.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 We praise the mighty name of Jesus who is our Savior and king for he made everything yet he came to earth to die for or sins on the cross. May his name and message of forgiveness and love continue to reach people on every shore and every nation. May we as people who call on his name proclaim his great message of justice and love and may that message continue to transform the lives of those who respond to it in faith and repentance. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen and Amen.

PSALM 71 TALK: FAITHFUL TO GOD EVEN IN OUR OLD AGE

PSALM 71 TALK: FAITHFUL TO GOD EVEN IN OUR OLD AGE

 (A Psalm that explores the problems of aging as a Christian when facing difficult times from opposition from enemies and popular attitudes in society today that suggest you are no longer useful or valuable in the service of God and society in general).

 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

 INTRODUCTION

 Last year I turned 65, which meant that not only was I retired from work but also I was now eligible for a full or part Government pension. I had some fun telling my friends and family that I was now a pensioner but on a more serious note it also crossed my mind that I was now washed up as a person in both society and even the church because I was now a senior citizen.

This kind of thought comes into people’s minds because many people in western society today either don’t value their senior citizens or give the impression to them that old age is a hindrance to modern society and not a resource or an asset.

I would like to quote from an excellent and very challenging talk I read on this Psalm on the net by a man named Steven J. Cole given in 1993 which explores the issues of aging as a Christian based on the teaching of Psalm 71. The talk is entitled “Psalm 71: Growing Old God’s Way” and is found on a blog Web page simply entitled “Bible. Org.”

Cole wrote this about attitudes to older people in his country USA back in 1993,

“Sadly, our American culture does not esteem the elderly. We are a self-centered, utilitarian society. The younger generation often views the elderly as a financial burden and, if they require our care, as an interference in the pursuit of pleasure and success. Then-Colorado governor, Richard Lamm, most outrageously stated this a few years ago in a discussion of spiraling health care costs, he said that terminally ill elderly people have “a duty to die and get out of the way.” Most would be more polite, but the underlying attitudes are there. Dr. Kevorkian is helping Governor Lamm’s wish come true, by assisting the terminally ill in suicide”.

 I’m afraid to say these words could be written about my country Australia today in 2016 and for what I have read this has not changed in the USA either.

This is not to say that old age does not have its problems or difficulties as Cole also points out in the opening words of his excellent talk, when he writes,

“There is something, which everybody wants, and yet almost everyone fears: growing old. Old age has many frightening aspects: an aging body which is more susceptible to illness; declining strength; feelings of uselessness (especially after retirement); the loss of friends and loved ones through death; the reality of one’s own death drawing nearer; loneliness; feelings of alienation from one’s children and grandchildren, who are busy with other interests and pursuits; and, very often, financial concerns due to dwindling income”.

 What I would like to say is that no matter what age we are life has its battles and problems. Young people face a whole set of different problems today such as higher rates of suicide caused by depression brought on by the pressures of modern life. Greater risk taking activities that leads to unnecessary early violent death. Pressures to get a good education, buy a home or raise a family in the face of rising costs of livening etc.

Cole states his argument for growing old in a positive Christian way at the start of his talk with these words,

“But as you and I face the prospects of growing old in America, we need to ask ourselves, “What should I be doing now, however old I am, to prepare for old age?” The fact is you will be then what you are becoming now. If you are not becoming a person of faith now, you will not be a person of faith then. If you are a negative, grumpy person now, you will not be a positive, cheerful person then. If you aren’t developing a walk with God now, you won’t have one then”.

 Psalm 71 explores both facing life with faith in God both as an older and younger person but it has a important message to the value and role of senior citizens in our society today particularly those who seek to follower the God of the bible as Christian believers.

This Psalm is one of only two Psalms in the second book of Psalms that has no Hebrew heading. The other is Psalm 43, which is an obvious continuation of Psalm 42 written by the Son’s of Korah. Some have suggested that maybe Psalm 71 is connected in some way to Psalm 70 and therefore is written by David.

Psalm 71 certainly reads like a Psalm of David and even borrowers David expressions like “My Rock”, “My fortress”, “My enemies”, Make haste” etc. Also this Psalm has copied or borrowed from other Psalms of David in the first book of Psalms like; verses 1 – 3 is almost a exact quotation of Psalm 31: 1 – 3, verses 5 and 6 come from Psalm 22: 9 and 10 and verses 12 and 13 are similar to Psalm 35: verse 22.

This all means that David or someone who knew the Psalms of David intimately used them to express his prayers and thoughts to God about aging as a faithful believer in the God of the bible. What we know for sure is that a man wrote this Psalm in his senior years. Some commentators have suggested Jeremiah and we have seen that the editors of the second book of Psalms have included an occasional Psalm outside of the David / Solomon period like Psalm 48 which seems to have been written in the time of Jehoshaphat (around 851BC).

So even though I favor the authorship of David I cannot say this is certain so I will simply look at the Psalm as a Psalm written by a older person who knew the Psalms of David and used some of David’s former Psalms and expressions in his Psalm.

Using the concept of ageing as a faithful believer in God I have broken this Psalm into the following three sections.

  1. FAITHFUL TO GOD WHEN FACING OPPOSITION IN OLD AGE (1 – 8)
  1. FAITHFUL TO GOD WHEN OUR AGE IS BEING QUESTIONED (9 – 16)
  1. FAITHFUL TO GOD EVEN WHEN OUR LIVES ARE COMING TO THE END

           (17 – 24)

  1. FAITHFULL TO GOD WHEN FACING OPPOSITION IN OLD AGE (1 – 8

I have broken each of the first two sections of this Psalm into two parts. While the third sections I have broken it into three parts. The two parts for this first section are:

  1. (1 – 4) A Confident call for deliverance from our enemies in our old age
  1. (5 – 8) Confidence in God in our old age comes from many years of faithful service to God.
  1. (1 – 4) A Confident call for deliverance from our enemies

 As I pointed out in the introduction the first three verses of this Psalm are almost a direct quote of Psalm 31: 1 – 3. The only change is verse 3 as Psalm 31: 3 reads,

“Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me”

 While Psalm 71: 3 reads,

“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”.

 In Psalm 31David was speaking confidently of God’s help in the midst of the treacherous people of Keilah who had reported him to King Saul. It looked like King Saul would trap David in the Philistine city of Keilah. David asks for deliverance because of God’s name or God’s honor while the aging believer who wrote Psalm 71 asks for God’s deliverance from his enemies simply by trusting in the power and might of God which he had learnt to do from his previous experience of God’s working in his life.

He asks for God to give the command to save him as he has proven over many years that God alone is his rock and fortress.

This is the old veteran’s experience of God that causes him to say like David in Psalm 31,

“In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame”.

 What enemies he is facing is not disclosed but they are described in verse 4 as:

“The wicked” and “evil and cruel men”

 David faced lots of these kind of men during his whole life even in his very old age he had further trouble within his family when another of his sons Adonijah sought to take the throne from David before he had passed on. Adonijah sought to steal the throne from David’s son Solomon. When David decides to correct this problem caused by the ambitious and evil deeds of his son Adonjah he says these words to Bathsheba Solomon’s mother in 1 Kings 1: 29 – 30,

“The king then took an oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 30

 I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.”

So we hear from David’s lips even in his final days of his life words that reveal he still trusted in the Lord to deliver him just as he had seen God do all through his long life.

The older writer of Psalm 71 has the same confidence in God as David had in his Psalm 31.

In verse 2, the writer like David did in Psalm 31 asks God to,

“Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness;

I quote myself from Psalm 31 verse 2 to explain the meaning of this verse,

“John Calvin believes that God’s righteousness is in fact God’s faithfulness he will not let David fall to the trap that the evil King Saul has set for David because David’s God is a God of Justice and love. If Saul’s trap worked then this would mean that evil would win over right. David knows that in God he will never be put to shame because his God can be relied upon and is always faithful to those he has called to be his own”.

So the old man who wrote Psalm 71 asks like David in vs. 2b

“Turn your ear to me and save me”

He wants God’s help so he asks him to help save or deliver him. He no doubt had prayed like this many times before and with many years of experience of going to God in prayer and seeing God’s answer he developed a great confidence in God to deliver him as he says in the next verse,

“Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go”.

Paul in the New Testament reveals the same confidence in God in the later years of his life. In probably Paul’s last letter written just before his death at the hands of the Romans he speaks of his confidence in God in the face of what he sees as his certain death in 2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8,

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing”.

Paul is looking for the ultimate form of deliverance or salvation, namely our salvation to glory or the final part of our salvation our glorification in Christ.

The older writer of Psalm 71 therefore commences his Psalm 71 with a confident call for deliverance from his enemies, who he calls in verse 4,

“The wicked” and “evil and cruel men”

We too no matter what age we are always under attack from the devil and his many evil forces. However those of us who are older Christians need to teach those younger than us how they can have confidence in God in the face of opposition from their enemies. Paul did exactly this with his younger prodigy Timothy in 2 Timothy 3: 10 – 17,

“You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

 Note how Paul tells Timothy that it is God’s word that equips us in this battle with evildoers which he says all Christians young or old must fight against.

  1. (5 – 8) Confidence in God in our old age comes from many years of faithful service to God.

 The idea of the writers confidence in God coming from his many years experience of trusting in God and proving his help over and over is made even clearer in the second part of the first section of this Psalm.

He starts this second part with the confident words of a life long faithfulness to God with verse 5,

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth”.

 These words fit beautifully to the life of David who is portrayed in 1 and 2 Samuel as a man who trusted in God from a very young age. As a young man 1 Samuel presents David trusting in God to fight lions and bears and then the giant Philistine soldier Goliath. He proved God as his hope and deliverer in the eight years of being chased around by the mad and dangerous king Saul. Even in David’s later years David had to contend with his own son Absalom seeking to kill him and again he trusted in God as his hope and deliverer.

This older writer of this Psalm speaks like a David as a man who trusted in God as His hope and confidence since a very young age and he continues this idea in the next verse as well,

“From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you”.

 This is another verse that at least mirrors the words of another known David Psalm namely Psalm 22 verses 9 and 10,

“Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.10 From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God”.

 Amazingly the Psalm 71 verse 6 is a very neat summary of the two verses in Psalm 22 and expresses the fact that this man like David has had a long relationship with God. He speaks of faith in God from the day of his birth. I have met Christians who have testified of feeling they have had their faith in God from a very young age and cannot remember not believing in God. Such people are an encouragement to Christian families to continue a strong and faithful witness to their children and of course to pray for their conversions from the day of their birth.

Verse 7 is a little more difficult to interpret as it uses the strange word “portent”. The verse reads,

“I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge”.

 “Potent” could be a negative word as Holman Christian translation interprets it,

“I have become an ominous sign to many”.

 In this translation he is saying his enemies use his problems and difficulties in his life as an example of him not being a faithful follower of God.

Then “Potent” could be translated in a positive way as many translations like American Standard Version do,

“I am as a wonder unto many”.

 This would mean that this man’s faith through problems and difficulties has been a positive example to others. Actually both negative and positive interpretation would work in the context but that little word “but” pushes me towards the negative and would mean that the Psalmist is saying that even though his enemies use his troubles as a weapon against him he will simply continue to trust in God as his strong refuge.

This thought then causes the writer to complete this first section with a wonderful word of praise in verse 8,

“My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long”.

 I like Spurgeon’s interpretation and application of this verse,

“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 also be filled with gratitude. This would leave no room for murmuring or backbiting”.

 This is Paul’s “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5: 18) in action. The old believer is under the pump from his many enemies and what does he do, his “mouth is filled with your (God’s) praise”.

 This is not a grumpy old man as so many older men are portrayed today but an older man whose mouth is filled with positive praise even in the face of problems and difficulties.

  1. FAITHFUL TO GOD WHEN OUR AGE IS BEING QUESTIONED (9 – 16)

Again I see two parts in this second section like the first:

  1. (9 – 13) Is being old a hindrance or an asset?
  1. (14 – 16) The positive resolve of an aging believer
  1. (9 – 13) Is being old a hindrance or an asset?

 The first heading is a question that I hope to answer and that answer is the key concept of this Psalm and what it has to say to both western societies attitude to its senior citizens and also a word to older Christians and how God wants them to live for him and serve him.

The older believer who wrote this Psalm certainly felt that his enemies saw his age as a hindrance and problem, which helped them to attack him.

In verse 9 he prays to God,

“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone”.

 Why he makes this prayer is clear from the start of the next verse, which reads,

“For my enemies speak against me”.

 So it seems his enemies used his old age as a weapon against him. His enemies certainly did not value old age as an asset and they wanted him destroyed or killed as the second half of verse 10 reads,

“Those who wait to kill me conspire together”.

 So what is God’s view of the older person?

Does God see older people as a hindrance or an asset?

To answer this we need to look to other verses in the bible. There are many references in the bible to old age and aging and God’s attitude to senior citizens is clear but for now I will give you two Old Testament references to senior citizens and two New Testament references to give you a bit of an idea of what God has to say about being an older person.

  1. Leviticus 19: 31 – Respect the older person

The book of Leviticus contains a detailed rundown of God’s laws for his people to live by in the old covenant relationship.

This verse picks up what God has to say to his people about how they should treat older people in Israel. It simply says,

“Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord”.

This is a clear command of God to show respect to the older person and it shows clearly that God’s attitude to older people is that they are an asset and not a hindrance in the community of God’s people. There are plenty of examples of God calling and using older people for great work for him. The supreme example in the Old Testament is Moses who was probably nearly 80 years old when he was called to lead the people of God out of Egypt.

  1. Job 12: 12 – The wisdom of the older person

I was an employment counselor at one stage of my working life and I met many people over the age of 45 who were feeling the effects of being considered to old to be employed by many companies. The main skill and asset I would always tell them to promote to employers was their vast experience and if appropriate their wisdom. The old saying is very true that says, “You cannot put a old head on young shoulders” and it is this truth that Job 12: 12 is speaking about,

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding”.

 This verse and others like it say clearly that God wants us to value our senior citizens because of the knowledge and experience they have that if combined with a right faith in God produces great wisdom.

  1. Titus 2: 2 – 5 – An example and teacher of the younger generation

Paul speaks to Titus in his letter to him with advice on faith and conduct in the new church of Crete. Paul speaks directly to Titus about the senior men and women and gives clear and positive instruction for the role of both older men and women in the church. He basically is saying that both older men and women have a vital role in being a positive example to the younger men and women and that they are to train or teach them how to live the Christian life.

“Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted too much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God”.

I have received in my life the blessing of older Christian’s ministry helping and training me when I was younger. When I was a young teenage Christian I went to a Bible study on a Sunday afternoon before church run by the assistant minister who was coming to the end of his active Christian ministry and he was such a help to me at that stage of my life. I still praise the Lord for what he taught me those many years ago.

  1. 2 Timothy 2: 1 – 2 – Pass on the message and the faith to the next                                              generation

My final bible reference that deals with God’s attitude and purpose for Older Christians is found in probably Pauls final letter before he was killed for his faith.

Paul himself would have been around my age we believe which is mid 60” s so he was by this time a senior Christian coming to the end of his life. He wrote at least 2 letters to his younger prodgie Timothy who was one of the younger men he had selected to carry the Christian message to the next generation and in 2 Timothy 2: 1 – 2 he speaks of the important role of all older Christians passing on the message and the faith to the next generation;

“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

 Paul does not mention anything about the age of those who are to do this passing on of the message to the next generation but I think it applies to men and women of all ages who have heard the message from someone in the generation ahead of them that now they must in turn pass this message on to the generations that follows them.

This point is were the general teaching of the bible on the role and function of the older believer and Psalm 71 come together because our older aged persecuted writer says this in verse 18,

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come”.

I will say more about the teaching of this verse in the final section of this Psalm talk.

The writer of Psalm 71 after speaking of how his enemies chose to use his old age as a means of bringing him down then calls out to God in desperate prayer for help in verse 12,

“Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me”

When we are attacked either verbally or physically in our old age we will experience great fear and helplessness. I hear more and more on the daily TV news of younger people attacking older members of our community to steal what little money they usually have from them. This is younger unscrupulous people using age and frailty as an opportunity for personal gain and when you see pictures of the bruised and bloodied bodies of many of these older people you feel nothing but rage and anger towards their perpetrators.

This problem must make us realise that our society must find better ways of looking after and protecting our older citizens and for older and frail Christians to pray for God’s safety just like our Psalmist has just done.

In the final verse of this first part of the second section our writer does another very David like thing he prays what I have spoken about a number of times before in the Psalms of book 1 and 2, a “Imprecatory Prayer” or prayer for God’s judgment on his enemies.

As I have said a number or times before I believe this is not the sort of prayer I believe Jesus wants us to pray.

Jesus taught us in the Gospels to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5: 44).

The Psalmist however in Psalm 71 verse 13 prays,

“May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace”.

When young people who are caught for the crime of theft and assault against a senior citizen they suffer the fate of society treating them with scorn and disgrace such is the moral depravity of their actions. However as Christians we should pray for these young people that the light of the Gospel might shine into their dark and twisted souls and transform them like he has transformed us from death to life.

I know a number of Christian friends in my church and other churches that regularly go into our prisons with the message of the Gospel and many of the prisoners they encounter come to faith in Christ, which is the ultimate answer to their former wretched crimes and lives.

  1. (14 – 16) The positive resolve of an aging believer

You will probably realise that each of the three sections of this Psalm ends with the writer making some kind of positive resolve to serve and praise God in the face of great opposition and difficulty.

When we see things like the bashing of an older person or hear what could only be described as age discrimination we could easily become cynical and negative in our attitudes to life, Many of the older job seekers I sought to counsel and help when I worked as a employment counsellor had become very bitter and negative from constant knock backs from employers because of their age. Many would not listen to my advice or simply challenged me with words like, “you don’t know what you are talking about”. Continual negative experience can and does lead to negative attitudes and beliefs.

 However listen to how our older aged persecuted believer reactive to his negative experiences from his enemies,

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more”.

 Where did he get such positive hope and faith from?

The answer to this is found in his words we looked at back in verse 8, which reads,

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth”

 This man, like David knew both God’s word and God’s help in his past and that past goes back many years because he seems to be writing this Psalm as a older believer. Again Paul spoke of being positive and full of thanks in all circumstances in a number of places. I have already quoted Paul’s word on this in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18, let me share what he says about this to the church in Philippi in Philippians 4: 4 – 7,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

 Note how we can be old and suffering because of it and yet we can still be positive in this. Paul says rejoice in the Lord, don’t become anxious but turn your anxieties into prayers and God will give you his peace, which transcends all understanding.

 The writer of Psalm 71 continues this positive resolve in the face of great opposition with the words of verses 15 and 16,

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone”.

In these words of resolve the older writer of Psalm 71 is determined not to let the negative experience of being picked on by his enemies because he is old be the controlling factor in his life but rather he will focus on what God has done and will in fact proclaim that with his mouth.

What did this writer see as the mighty acts of God?

The writer of Psalm 71 answer is what he says in these two verses namely, “God’s saving acts”. These saving acts of God he calls “Righteous acts”.

Churchyard explains the term “righteous acts” this way,

“The word ‘righteous’ means ‘very, very good’. Only God is really ‘righteous’. He always does what is right”.

While Spurgeon gets the prize for its application when he writes,

“How gloriously conspicuous 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 spread glad tidings on every side, and at all time.”

Yes this old warrior of God is not going to let his enemies and their slanderous and prejudice words define him no he is going to be defined, constrained and enlivened by the saving acts of God which he will proclaim all day long.

What is defining you at the moment?

Is it your problems and difficulties or is it the message of God’s love seen in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

I quote Paul again here in Romans 8: 37 – 39,

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Now that’s letting God’s saving acts in Christ define us. I do meet in my senior years older people who have become bitter and twisted by their life experiences and this makes them both unproductive and painful to deal with. Sadly some of the bitter twisted older folk I have met call themselves Christians. Let me say this is not biblical Christianity in action so such people need to go back to their bibles and let it correct the error of their ways.

However I have met older Christians who are facing lots of problems and difficulties with the joy of the Lord and this is very encouraging to people of all ages.

  1. FAITHFUL TO GOD EVEN WHEN OUR LIVES ARE COMING TO THE END (17 – 24)

I have decided to divide this third section of this Psalm into 3 parts

  1. (17 – 18) The faithful elders experience in both his youth and                    old age
  1. (19 – 21) The faithful elders message to the next generation
  1. (22- 24) The faithful elders final resolve
  1. (17 – 18) The faithful elders experience in both his youth and old age

 This older Psalm writer in verse 17 returns to the theme he spoke on in verses 5 and 6, He writes,

“Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds”.

 This is a great word of testimony and even though I came to know the Lord at the young age of 13 I cannot confidently say I have always since then “declared God’s marvelous deeds”. In fact for three years in my late teens I turned away from following the Lord and it looked like I had lost my faith in God. However God worked yet again in my life and brought me back to him when I was around 20 years old.

Ever since then I have had my times of being lax in my following of the Lord but even through the dry and difficult times my faith has continued to this very day. Now in the early days of my old age I to am resolved to always let God teach me from his word and serve him by declaring his marvelous deeds in Christ Jesus my Lord and Savior.

This man seems to have been a great warrior for God and even now as he is growing older and facing great opposition and difficulty in his life he is seeking to serve the Lord.

He goes on to speak of serving his Lord all his life as he did in verse 5 with these words in verse 17,

“Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.”

 This description would have fitted well to David in his old age as the bible takes us through David’s life from a young age to his old age and except for a couple of dark periods of his life when he fell to temptation and sinned he was a man who was taught by God and who served God all through his long life.

Paul speaks to his young prodigy Timothy in in 2 Timothy 1: 3 – 7,

“I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline”.

 Paul acknowledges here both the value and importance of teaching the young the word of God and how that can be used to encourage and equip the next generation of believers. Timothy was taught the word of God by his grandmother and mother.

This is what this older Godly Psalm writer wants to do in the next verse 18,

“Even when I am old and grey, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come”.

 This is what modern society is missing out on if it devalues the older generation. They need the wisdom and knowledge of the past to be passed on to the next generation. I once had the opportunity of taking some computer students on an excursion to what was at that time a very successful computer hardware company. The manager of this company bragged to my students that all employees were under the age of 35. Within five years of visiting that company it went out of business and closed down. I later learnt they had made some unwise business decisions that caused their demise and what they needed was some older wiser counsel that no one in that business could offer them because they were all under the age of 35.

It is my belief that businesses and churches today need a combination of Youth and older people to be a successful in this ever-changing world we live in today. The church needs both Youth and older members to help compliment the skills, Knowledge and experience needed to build a strong outreaching church today.

This older believer, the writer of Psalm 71 asked God what a lot of my fellow older Christian friends ask or need to ask God today,

“Even when I am old and gray do not forsake me, O God”.

 Just as there are traps and pitfalls that the devil uses to cause a younger believer to stumble and fall in their Christian walk so there are traps and pitfalls the devil can use in our old age to cause us to stumble and fall in our Christian walk later in our lives.

One of the main traps the devil uses for the older believer is the feeling of becoming useless in God’s service. As I pointed out in my introduction Steven J. Cole had a lot of great things to say about serving God in our old age through the teaching of this Psalm. In his conclusion he tells the story of a women who came to the Lord at the ripe old age of 75 and wanted to teach Sunday school.

The minister who was used to bring her to the Lord is a famous bishop from the Anglican Sydney Diocese named Bishop John Reid. Bishop Read advised her to pray for God’s leading for ministry as he felt she was not really suited to Sunday School teaching.

God led this 75-year-old woman to a ministry of outreach and evangelism to Asian students who lived in her area. The story goes that soon after her meeting with Bishop Reid the women was working in her garden when a Chinese student from Taiwan walked by. He stopped to compliment the old lady on her excellent roses and she struck up a conversation with the young man and invited him in for morning tea. At morning tea she shared her testimony to the young man who became interested in her story.

The young man asked if he could come back to talk some more about the Christian faith and the bible and when he returned a few days later he brought a friend with him. The old women soon had a weekly bible study of up to 70 Chinese students and ended up bringing many of them to the Lord.

This story shows how God can use us no matter what age we are and we only need to be prayerful and active for God even in our old age. The writer of Psalm 71 was both prayerful and active for God for all of his life and I hope that one day in the future I will be able to write and say something like what Paul wrote towards the end of his life in 2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8,

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing”.

  1. (19 – 21) The faithful elders message to the next generation

This faithful elder or older believer has just asked God to help him pass on the message of God’s power and might to the next generation then in the next 3 verses he spells out some of the content of that message.

I believe his message set out in these three verses is threefold:

  1. God’s righteousness (vs. 19)
  2. God’s loving restoration (vs. 20)
  3. God’s promise of comfort and help (vs. 21)
  1. God’s righteousness (vs. 19)

 This faithful elder has spoken about God’s righteousness before in verse 2 when he wrote,

“Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me”

 And again in verse 15,

“My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation al day long, though I know not its measure”.

 Now in verse 19, he writes,

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things who, O God, is like you”.

 Spurgeon captures the meaning of this verse so well I will quote him directly,

“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 mansions of heaven. It is a high doctrine gospel, gives a high experience, leads to high practice, and ends in high felicity”.

 And this should be the same message for all of us who are older in the faith a message that is timeless, ageless and always relevant. It is the message of the Gospel of God’s saving grace revealed in Jesus Christ who gives us the gift of God’s righteousness through his death for our sins on the cross. This is the message Paul passed on to men like Timothy who in turn passed it on to their next generation.

Paul passed this message on even when he was suffering persecution in his old age like the writer of this Psalm was. Paul writes to Timothy these words in 2 Timothy 2: 8 – 13,

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself”.

Such is the righteousness of God in Christ and we can join the older writer of Psalm 71 and say,

“Who, O God is like you?”

  1. God’s loving restoration (vs. 20)

This verse reminds me of a Psalm talk I wrote early last year on Psalm 60, which commences with the verse that reads,

“You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us, you have been angry – now restore us”.

 David wrote Psalm 60 when he and his people had for some reason or another looked away from truly following God. The writer of Psalm 71 does not need God’s spiritual restoration from falling away from following him. No, he needed God’s loving restoration from the problems and difficulties his enemies had caused him to have he writes,

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again from the depths of the earth”.

 This old man of faith can pray like this because he obviously had proven God to be a God who does lovingly restore us from the problems and difficulties of life.

We know this to be true from things he has already said about the God he trusted in like his words in verses 3 and 4,

“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”.

 That God is a God of loving restoration was both this older man of God’s experience and message. What he knew of God came straight from his word and his experience of the God of that word. This is what he said in the following verse 5,

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth”.

 The church today needs the counsel of older men and women of faith like this man. Men and women who can testify to a life of trust in God and how that trust helped them face all of the problems and difficulties of life.

My message would not be welcomed in some churches today as they want to hear how becoming a Christian makes life easier, more successful and is a life of one victory after another. However both my understanding of the bible and my personal experience of many years of following the Lord says something quite different than that.

Yes, as a Christian I find great help and strength in my life as the Lord is with me to help me but he is with me to help me through the problems and difficulties of life not to give me an easy successful life. As Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2: 1 – 7,

“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this”.

Note Paul is not promising Timothy a easy life or ministry and in his first letter to Timothy he says this about how God’s mercy operates in our spiritual restoration, 1 Timothy 1: 12 – 17,

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen”

  1. God’s promise of comfort and help (vs. 21)

The final part of the message of this older faithful believer is similar to the last point. It is expressed in simple terms in verse 21,

“You will increase my honor and comfort me once again”.

 In the last point I was critical of those who preach a prosperity Gospel today which says come to Jesus and all your troubles will be over and you will only know his victory in your life. However there is a truth of the Gospel message this false teaching is exploiting and that is God will ultimately give all in Christ a great victory.

The problem with the prosperity Gospel is that it confuses the doctrine of glorification with sanctification. Yes there is ultimately victory in Christ as Paul speak about in 1 Corinthians 15: 56 and 57,

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

These two verses come at the end of Paul’s teaching on the promise of believer’s resurrection from the dead, which comes when either we die in Christ or are caught up in the day of his return, which is the teaching of glorification, which has been described as, “when we will be saved”.

However there is also the teaching of “we are being saved” which is called sanctification and that is what this old believer has been speaking about in the previous verse. In sanctification God uses all kinds of trials and difficulties to make us more like Christ as Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

The old psalm writer of Psalm 71 seems to have both teachings in mind in verse 21 because he seems to be looking forward to a time when he will be honored or glorified when he writes,

“You will increase my honor”

 We to can look forward to our day of glorification when we will find honor in the Lord Jesus Christ.

However he speaks also of comfort in his trials and difficulties when he writes,

“And comfort me once again”.

 What does God have in mind for the purpose of going through trials and difficulties for the value of others?

Paul answers this at the start of 2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 7,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort”.

If this old faithful believer who wrote Psalm 71 had not gone through the trials and difficulties he went through then we would not have got this Psalm 71.

So the third aspect of the message of this faithful elder is how God is a God who will one day bring victory and honor to us and along the way to that great day comforts us so that we can face the problems and difficulties of this life.

  1. (22- 24) The faithful elders final resolve

As this older faithful elder has done before at the end of each section he resolves to praise God even in the midst of his problems and difficulties. He offers 3 types of praise:

  1. Praise of his music (verse 22)
  2. Praise of his lips (verse 23)
  3. Praise of his proclamation of God’s righteousness (verse 23)
  1. Praise of his music (verse 22)

This verse alone points strongly to David being the author of this Psalm but because his name is not placed in a Hebrew heading at the start of this Psalm we cannot say this for sure. The David like inference is in the reference to the harp and lyre as David has spoken before about praising God using these instruments as the verse reads;

“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”.

David speaks in a similar way in Psalm 33: 2,

“Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.”

Right from the days of his Youth, David was known for his beautiful harp playing and he of course was used by King Saul to play his harp to sooth his troubled soul. David is clearly known to the members of King Saul’s court as 1 Samuel 16: 18 reads,

“One of the servants answered, ‘I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine- looking man. And the Lord is with him”.

Saul listens to the advice of the court servant and calls for David and enlists him in his service to play the harp for him and in 1 Samuel 16: 23, we read this about David’s harp playing for king Saul;

Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better and the evil spirit would leave him”.

But of course another man who knew David’s Psalms and who also was an accomplished harp player could have written these words.

Whoever the actual writer of the Psalm is the writer resolve is to use his music and his musical talent to praise God. For many years I have developed the talent of playing the Ukulele and for the past seven years I have been in a local Ukulele group but recently I have decided to pull back from performances with this group and concentrate on using my musical talent in God’s service and to encourage praise and worship of our great God of love and faithfulness.

This is the writers resolve as well he wants to use his music even in his later years to praise God’s love and faithfulness.

Twice Paul speaks of using Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs in worship and praise to God. He speaks of this in Colossians 3: 16 and Ephesians 5: 19 and 20 and this last reference picks up the idea of music being a source of praise when Paul says,

“Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord always giving thanks to God the Father for everything”.

  1. Praise of his lips (verse 23)

This older believer does not only want to use his music to praise God but he wants to use his lips or his voice in songs of praise, he writes,

“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you- I, whom you have redeemed”.

 As a Christian into music and making music I meet many Christian musicians and some times I get the impression that for some of the very gifted musicians the music has taken over and the focus of using their gifts to praise God and communicate his message is being lost. It is a trap I have had to watch out for and I thank God that for me my main gift is the writing of lyrics. For me the strength of a great song of worship is the lyrics because it is through the words that the truth of God and his word is found. Many modern worship songs have great music but the words let them down.

This older Godly musician also wants the words and what they say to be the focus of his musical praise. He wants his lips and voice to be used as a source of praise and that praise is for his loving redeeming God. Spurgeon writes;

“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 brought them. Our being bought with a price is more than sufficient reason for our dedicating ourselves to the earnest worship of God our Savior”.

 When I was very young I was in my churches choir but the leader of the choir the church organist was not a believer, a very talented musician but not a Christian believer. This man caused great trouble and difficulties for that church and I can remember as a very young person having many lively discussions about my faith with that man. Eventually I had to leave the choir, as I could not see how I could truly use my singing talent to serve and worship the Lord under the leadership of that kind of person. I think it would have been better having a less talented musician who was a true believer in charge of that choir than unbelieving talented man.

As Spurgeon said,

“Till men are redeemed, they are like instruments out of tune”.

  1. Praise of his proclamation of God’s righteousness (verse 23)

In the last verse of this Psalm the old faithful elder makes his final resolution of praise, he writes,

“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.”

 Three times this older writer speaks of God’s righteousness, verse 2, 15 and 19 and now he completes this Psalm with the resolution to use his tongue to proclaim God’s righteous acts namely his righteous acts of salvation. I love the words of the first verse and chorus of the great old hymn by Edward Mote, which reads,

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

 Chorus:

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

 This hymn perfectly captures the Christian message of God’s gift of righteousness. The Psalmist would not have known the full message of how God would fully impart his gift of righteousness to us through the spilt blood of Christ but he knew that the same God who would one day send Jesus to this world was a God who longed to save his people.

CONCLUSION

Edward Mote’s life story is a interesting reflection on the main theme of this Psalm, namely seeking to serve God even in our old age or senior years as Edward Mote worked successfully for most of his life as a Cabinet maker but at the age of 55 he left his successful Cabinet making business to become a Baptist minister.

He served out the rest of his life––more than two decades–– as the pastor of a Baptist Church in Horsham, Sussex, England.

It was when he was a Baptist minister that is said he wrote his famous hymn of “My Hope is Built”. One Sunday he payed a visit to some good friends and they asked if they could sing a hymn together. Mote had in his pocket a recently composed hymn, “My Hope is Built” and the good friends wife was so impressed with the hymn she asked for a copy of it. The story of the new hymn quickly spread to others and Mote found himself making lots of copes of his new hymn.

Mote had been a successful businessman but he did not stop serving God in his senior years but rather used it for a new ministry opportunity, pasturing the Baptist Church in Horsham, Sussex, England.

We all should have the same faithful attitude of this older faithful Psalm writer and Edward Mote and use the later years of our lives in God honouring service to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He shows us that older people particularly older believers can be and in fact are an asset not a hindrance to the church and the society as a whole.

The final words of the Psalm seem to say that this great old faithful believer was fully saved or delivered from his enemies as his imprecatory or prayer of judgment in verse 13,

“May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace”

 Seems to have be answered with the final words of the Psalm that says,

“For those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.”

 I close this Psalm talk as I usually do with a poem and a prayer,

GROWING OLDER SERVING THE LORD

(Based on Psalm 71)

In you Oh Lord I take refuge

May I never be put to shame.

Rescue me and deliver me Lord

As I call on your mighty name.

 

Be my rock and my refuge Oh Lord

Give your command to save me

For you are my hope and my Savior Oh Lord

For many years now you’ve helped me to see.

 

Refrain:

You are my master and friend

And I’ve known you for many a year

As I grow older may a serve you Lord

Knowing you’re always near.

 

Do not cast me away when I am old

Don’t forsake me when my hair turns grey

For the Devil seeks to pull me down

Suggesting I’m of no use today.

 

But while I live I will praise you Lord

For you are my Savior and Lord

My mouth will sing of your Son who came

To deliver us and give us your word.

Refrain:

You are my master and friend

And I’ve known you for many a year.

As I grow older may a serve you Lord

Knowing you’re always near.

 

Since my Youth I have known you Oh Lord

You have shown me your marvelous deeds.

And now I long to help those who are young

Discover how the Lord helps and leads.

 

I want to sing and make music Oh Lord

And praise your faithfulness.

Help me to grow older serving you Lord

Telling others that you long to bless.

Refrain:

You are my master and friend

And I’ve known you for many a year.

As I grow older may a serve you Lord

Knowing you’re always near.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Help us Father in heaven to always trust in you no matter what age we are. Help us realise that you have a job for us at every stage of our lives and when the devil tries to tell us we are useless in your service help us to realise that if we seek to serve you our work for you is never in vain. May we all grow older serving you Lord, may age not determine our effectiveness or usefulness but rather may your Holy Spirit empower us to serve you faithfully all the days of our lives. In Jesus name we pray Amen.