Together, Psalms 70 and 71 are the urgent prayers of King David in his final years. Feeling old, tired, and needy, he cries out to God. In fact, Psalm 70 is considered an emergency prayer — a 911 call to God. Moreover, it’s the type of prayer you cry out when you’ve hit rock bottom or you’re stuck between that inevitable rock and a hard place. It’s the prayer for when you’ve got nowhere else to turn to but up to God. Let’s dig in…
For the choir director: A psalm of David, asking God to remember him.
1 Please, God, rescue me!Psalm 70 NLT
Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
2 May those who try to kill me
be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
be turned back in disgrace.
3 Let them be horrified by their shame,
for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”
4 But may all who search for you
be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
5 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
O Lord, do not delay.
1 O Lord, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
2 Save me and rescue me,
for you do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me,
and set me free.
3 Be my rock of safety
where I can always hide.
Give the order to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked,
from the clutches of cruel oppressors.
5 O Lord, you alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.
6 Yes, you have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising you!
7 My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
8 That is why I can never stop praising you;
I declare your glory all day long.
9 And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.
10 For my enemies are whispering against me.
They are plotting together to kill me.
11 They say, “God has abandoned him.
Let’s go and get him,
for no one will help him now.”
12 O God, don’t stay away.
My God, please hurry to help me.
13 Bring disgrace and destruction on my accusers.
Humiliate and shame those who want to harm me.
14 But I will keep on hoping for your help;
I will praise you more and more.
15 I will tell everyone about your righteousness.
All day long I will proclaim your saving power,
though I am not skilled with words.
16 I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord.
I will tell everyone that you alone are just.
17 O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.
18 Now that I am old and gray,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
21 You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.
22 Then I will praise you with music on the harp,Psalm 71 NLT
because you are faithful to your promises, O my God.
I will sing praises to you with a lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 I will shout for joy and sing your praises,
for you have ransomed me.
24 I will tell about your righteous deeds
all day long,
for everyone who tried to hurt me
has been shamed and humiliated.
Actually, Psalm 70 repeats the final 5 verses of Psalm 40 — one of the other “emergency prayer” psalms. (And, one of my personal favorites). Furthermore, I see Psalm 70 as cry from all of Israel for God’s rescue from war.
Think about it. Who were the majority of the victims of the Hamas terrorists brutal attack? Families — not the military. Who did they kidnap? The weakest — elderly, babies, little children, and young girls.
Evil enemies take advantage of the most vulnerable. Thus, we come to Psalm 71’s call for a rescue from God.
Waiting for Rescue
I can’t fathom what the hostages in Gaza are going through. However, God knows.
Here is Spoken Gospel‘s insight on Psalm 71…
David’s opponents interpret his old age and suffering as signs of God’s judgment (Psalm 71:7a, 11). But David knows better. He appeals to God’s justice and asks God to rescue, deliver, and save him (Psalm 71:2). He knows God will save him because he’s done it before (Psalm 71:5). Like a midwife, God was present at his first moments of his life and welcomed him into the world (Psalm 71:6). Since his first breath, God has been his refuge (Psalm 71:7b-8). And before he breathes his last he knows God will come quickly and expose his enemies for the opportunists they are (Psalm 71:12-13).
For David’s part, he promises to use his final years praising the God who has never not saved him (Psalm 71:14-16). His aging voice commits to proclaiming to the next generation God’s power to rescue, deliver, and save (Psalm 71:18).
David then speaks to the next generation. While God might make Israel see the trouble and calamity that he has, God will raise Israel up from the depths of the earth (Psalm 71:20-21). David ends these psalms with a final promise of worship towards the God of Israel (Psalm 71:22). He makes a final declaration that the enemies who want him dead will be exposed and confused (Psalm 71:24).
Where is the Gospel?
Like David’s opponents, some might interpret old age as a sign of God’s judgment. And in a way, they’re right. The slow decay of our bodies and the slow decay of the earth are both God’s curse (Genesis 3:17-19). All of humanity’s days are marked by trouble, calamity, and natural disaster. And the longer we live, the lower our back bends under the weight of God’s justice until we are buried in the earth and the young take our place. Despite this, David prayed God’s power would raise both him and God’s people from the depths of the earth (Psalm 71:20). David prays for the curse to end—and in Jesus, it has.
Like all other humans, Jesus lived a life of sorrow, calamity, and grief (Isaiah 53:3). He took on God’s judgment and the curse of human existence, not simply because he was human, but because he let himself be cursed and judged for humans (Isaiah 53:4-5). But when his body was buried in the earth, God’s power raised him out of it, never to be buried again (Romans 6:9). The curse is now broken for everyone who joins Jesus in his death (Romans 6:8, 10).
That means gray hair is no longer evidence that God has forgotten you. Declining strength in old age does not determine God’s power to act on your behalf. Dependency on the care of others is not a weakness waiting to be taken advantage of. Rather, old age reminds us of God’s power. Jesus raises the dying. His power brought you into this world and as you age you draw closer to the power that will be your midwife into a new eternal life. So trust Jesus who died for your curse and trust God’s power that raises all from the dead.Spoken Gospel
Raised from the Dead
Ultimately, if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are doomed to die, perish, and spend eternity in hell. Obviously, that’s the furthest away from God that you can possible be! Therefore, the smartest thing you can do while you’re still alive and coherent, is to…