17O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
18Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.
When I Am Old
The new year is a time to look ahead, so what a fitting time to ask, "What will I do when I am old?" The psalmist, who is not identified in Psalm 71, was old and gray. He was taught about the things of the Lord from the days of his youth, and has faithfully declared those works all of his days. Now that he is gray, he does not pray for days of ease and retirement, but rather he prays that God would remain with him until he could declare God's faithfulness and strength to this new generation.
Not only is this a fitting prayer, but it is a lesson to both the young and the old. What will we be doing when we are old? What will we be doing this new year that God has granted to us? What can we learn from the psalmist's plea to God?
The lesson to the old is pretty obvious, is it not? As Christians, there will never come a time when we have so matured in Christ that we are not continually dependent upon God to keep us faithful to Him. We see this lesson repeatedly reinforced in the Bible in the lives of the Old Testament believers. We have only to look as far as Solomon to understand that no matter how wise we may be, we are still susceptible to the corruption of this world. Solomon, the wisest man on earth, followed the corrupt ways of his foreign wives in his later years, even building places of worship for their false gods.
The other obvious lesson to each of us in our later years is that, while we still have life we have a job to do for the Lord. There is no retirement in our service to God. Each age brings its own avenues of responsibility. For the elderly, their remaining years should be spent teaching the new generations the wondrous works of God, admonishing them to put all of their hope and trust in God, alone, and not in the things of this world. Do you remember the words of David in Psalm 37?
25I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. (Psalm 37:25, King James Version)
What is the lesson from these verses in Psalm 71 to the youth--to the teens of this age? First, you are not alone in your dependence upon God to remain faithful to Him, and second, you cannot serve God in your own power! There will never come a time when you are so solid in your faith that you cannot fall, but rather, you will always need to cry out to God to keep you faithful to Him.
I often wonder how many difficulties in life I may have avoided if I had truly learned this lesson while I was still in my teens. However, the teen years are the years of invincibility! When your heart is zealous for the Lord, you cannot imagine a time when you would not desire to serve Him above all others, and above the things of this world.
However, if you are a teen who struggles with faithfulness to God, these verses provide great hope for you. The psalmist assures us that we cannot serve God in our own strength. Nothing you can do can keep you faithful to God; God, alone, holds that power, and that is the key! You cannot, but God can! Go to God, tell Him of your inability to be faithful to Him, and ask Him to give you the strength to be faithful. He will answer that prayer!
How, then, do we answer the question, "What will I do when I am old?"
God is always faithful; I, too, will remain faithful to God when I am old, as long as I remember to continually go to Him asking that He would keep me faithful.
God Bless You,