Together, psalms 70 and 71 are the prayers of an aging King David in urgent need of God’s rescue (Psalm 70:1). Four times in five verses David asks God to come quickly, make haste, and not delay (Psalm 70:1, 5). David’s enemies want to ruin him (Psalm 70:2, 71:10). But David’s gray hairs and weakening body can’t take much more (Psalm 71:9, 18). He is poor and needy in the face of their youth and strength (Psalm 70:5a). These upstarts take pleasure in David’s weakened condition and plot to overthrow him (Psalm 70:3). So David asks God to shame and confuse his aggressors (Psalm 70:2).
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.
See For Yourself
May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who is powerful. And may you see Jesus as the one who breaks the curse and raises us up from the dead.