Psalm 71: Lessons For Maintaining a Life-Long Walk With Jesus

Introduction: Psalm 71 does not identify its author. But many believe this account took place during the rebellions of either Absalom or Adonijah. “The circumstances in which the psalmist finds himself fit David at the time of Absalom’s rebellion: ‘shame’ (71:1); oppressed by evil men (71:4); enemies speaking against him and seeking to kill him (71:10, 11, 13, 24); a life of many troubles (71:7a, 20); he had trusted God from his youth (71:5, 17); now he was old and gray (71:9, 18). (David was in his early 60’s; he died at 70.)” (Steven J. Code) (Psalm 71: Growing Old God’s Way).”1 The reference to an enemy mocking the psalmist’s belief that God would save him may have also referred to David’s enemies mocking his ongoing belief that he had God’s continued anointing to be king (Ps. 71:10-11; 2 Sam. 7:11-16). Many of the words are also identical to some of David’s earlier psalms. But it is perfectly acceptable to view this as a psalm from an unknown person of faith. Regardless of who wrote it, Psalm 71 offers unique lessons for maintaining a life-long walk of faith. The Bible calls upon believers to offer their lives as a “living sacrifice” for Jesus (Ro. 12:1-2). To fulfill your calling as a living sacrifice, you should make a life-long commitment to Jesus. This should include: (1) trust, (2) dependence, (3) perseverance, (4) seeking Him, (5) evangelism, (6) gratitude, and (7) worship.

First, in the face of his enemies, David always placed his trust in God. To maintain your walk with Jesus, He also wants you to make a life-long commitment to trusting Him. Second, throughout his life, David also depended upon God to deliver him. To maintain your walk with Jesus, He also wants you to depend upon Him throughout your entire life. Third, in his old age and in the face of others who mocked him, David continued to place his hope and trust in God. Throughout your life, Jesus also wants you to persevere in your faith. Fourth, whenever he faced an enemy or a trial, David cried out for God’s presence to surround him. He knew that by seeking out God first, God would provide for his other needs. Jesus also wants you to make a life-long commitment to seeking Him. When you seek Him with all your heart and soul, He will provide for your other needs. Fifth, David made a habit of proclaiming God’s righteousness and faithfulness to all who would listen. Jesus also wants you to make a life-long commitment to sharing your testimony and evangelism. Sixth, David responded to any trial by focusing on God and being thankful for all God’s blessings. To maintain your walk with Jesus, always be grateful to Him when you face a trial. Finally, David always responded to his trials by turning to God with praise and worship. Your walk with Jesus should also include life-long worship and praise.

1. Trust: Make a Life-Long Commitment to Trusting God. Ps. 71:1-3.

  • David professed that he would seek refuge in God.  Possibly when enemies sought to claim David’s right to the throne during his final days, he sought God’s refuge and protection: “1 In You, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In Your righteousness rescue me and save me; extend Your ear to me and help me. Be to me a rock of dwelling to which I may continually come; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.” (Ps. 71:1-3). Matthew Henry credits David with these wise words. Throughout his life, David always placed his trust in God: “David prays that he might never be made ashamed of dependence upon God. With this petition every true believer may come boldly to the throne of grace. The gracious care of Divine providence in our birth and infancy, should engage us to early piety. He that was our Help from our birth, ought to be our Hope from our youth. Let none expect ease or comfort from the world. Those who love the Lord, often are hated and persecuted; men wondered at for their principles and conduct; but the Lord has been their strong refuge. The faithful servants of God may be assured that he will not cast them off in old age, nor forsake them when their strength fails.” (Matthew Henry on Psalm 71).2

  • David always took refuge in God. David made a nearly identical plea in Psalm 31: “A Psalm of David.  In You, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; in Your righteousness rescue me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be a rock of strength for me, a stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; for the sake of Your name You will lead me and guide me.” (Ps. 31:1-3). Throughout his life, David professed that he would take refuge in God:  “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.”  (Ps. 3:3).  “As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is refined; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”  (2 Sam. 22:31).  “For You bless the righteous person, LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.”  (Ps. 5:12). “ O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; save me from all those who pursue me, and rescue me, . . .”  (Ps. 7:1).  “Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.”  (Ps. 16:1).  Solomon also repeated David’s advice:  “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”  (Prov. 30:5). Satan once complained about a “hedge of protection” that God had placed around Job (Job 1:10).  From your youth until your old age, make God your refuge and protection.

  • When others attacked him, David always placed his trust in God to save him. David pleaded with God: “ . . . let me never be put to shame. In Your righteousness rescue me and save me; . . .” (Ps. 71:1-2). This again copies Psalm 31: “A Psalm of David . . . let me never be put to shame; in Your righteousness rescue me.” (Ps. 31:1). Throughout his life, David always placed his trust in God when his enemies attacked him: “My God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies rejoice over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.” (Ps. 25:2-3). David trusted in God, even when he could not have known the outcome: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7). “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13). “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Ps. 31:24). “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6). Even when it appears that evil is prevailing, you should still trust God: “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” (Lk. 12:4). The temptation of every person is to turn to a worldly solution. But God wants you to place your trust in Him alone and nothing else.

  • God was also David’s rock.  For as long as he continued to live, David pleaded with God to continue being his “rock”: “Be to me a rock of dwelling to which I may continually come;” (Ps. 71:3). David repeatedly praised God as his “rock” and his deliverer:  “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  (Ps. 18:2, 31, 46; 19:14).  “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be God, the rock of my salvation,”  (2 Sam. 22:47; 22:3).  “The Rock!  His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.”  (Dt. 32:4).  From your youth until your old age, God should be the foundation of your life.    

2. Dependence: Depend Upon God Throughout Your Entire Life. Ps. 71:4-6.

  • David proclaimed that he had depended upon God since he was an infant. In his old age when he lacked the strength to fight his enemies, David pleaded with God that he had depended upon Him alone (and not his own abilities) since the day God created him: “Save me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the wrongdoer and the ruthless, for You are my hope; Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. I have leaned on you since my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; my praise is continually of You.” (Ps. 71:4-6). “[I]t was David’s mercy he had a covenant God to go to, and could claim his interest in him, who had power to deliver him, and from whom he might expect it;” (Gill’s Exposition on the entire Bible, Ps. 71).3

  • Throughout his life, David depended upon God to protect him from danger. From his youth until his old age, David always depended upon God alone to deliver him from his many enemies: “Also, David was in great distress because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David felt strengthened in the LORD his God.” (1 Sam. 30:6). “Arise, LORD; save me, my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.” (Ps. 3:7). “Arise, LORD, confront him, make him bow down; save my soul from the wicked with Your sword,” (Ps. 17:13). “Save my soul from the sword, my only life from the power of the dog.” (Ps. 22:20). “Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue my soul from their ravages, my only life from the lions.” (Ps. 35:17). “For the music director. A Psalm of David. Rescue me, LORD, from evil people; protect me from violent men.” (Ps. 140:1). It is human nature to rely upon our own abilities for survival. But God wants you to reject those instincts and depend upon Him alone.

  • Throughout his life, David placed his hope in God. Even as a young boy when tended sheep as a lowly shepherd, David placed his hope in God alone: “for You are my hope; Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.” (Ps. 71:5). He knew that God had been with him since He formed David in his mother’s womb (Ps. 71:6). “Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts.  I was cast upon You from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” (Ps. 22:9-10). Thus, his hope was always in God: “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” (Ps. 39:7). “My soul, wait in silence for God alone, for my hope is from Him.” (Ps. 62:5). “For the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.” (Ps. 9:18). “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,” (Ps. 146:5). Throughout your life, Jesus also wants you to place your hope in Him alone: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and reliable and one which enters within the veil,” (Heb. 6:19).

Psalm 71 | Poetry Part I | Upward Ever...

Throughout your life, place your hope in God alone4

Psalm 71:6 - Inspirational Psalm - Bible Verse

Make it a life-long habit to depend upon and praise God5

3. Perseverance: Throughout Your Life, Persevere in Your Faith. Ps. 71:7-11.

  • David’s faith caused many to marvel. Because David’s enemies had caused the public to turn again him, his mockers wondered why David continued to cling to God’s promises: “I have become a marvel to many, for You are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with Your praise and with Your glory all day long. Do not cast me away at the time of my old age; do not abandon me when my strength fails. 10 For my enemies have spoken against me; and those who watch for my life have consulted together, 11 saying, ‘God has abandoned him; pursue and seize him, for there is no one to save him.’” (Ps. 71:7-11). David’s enemies regularly mocked David’s belief that his covenant with God was either real or that it was ongoing in his later years after his serious sins (2 Sam. 7:11-16). Even when he had no worldly chance to succeed, David knew that God would be faithful to fulfill His promises to David and allow David to serve Him until his death: “I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.” (Ps. 57:2).

  • Turn to Jesus for strength when others mock you for following His Word and will. David’s enemies mocked him claiming “‘God has abandoned him; pursue and seize him, for there is no one to save him.’” (Ps. 71:11). For different reasons, his enemies mocked him throughout his life: “Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God.’ Selah” (Ps. 3:2). “All who see me deride me; they sneer, they shake their heads, saying, ‘Turn him over to the LORD; let Him save him; let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.’” (Ps. 22:7-8). Jesus’ enemies unknowingly quoted from David’s psalms to mock Him when He was on the cross: “He has trusted in God; let God rescue Him now, if takes pleasure in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matt. 27:43). “35 And the people stood by, watching. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.’ 36 The soldiers also ridiculed Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, ‘If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!’” (Lk. 23:35-37). Jesus warned that you will likely experience mocking or hatred when you follow His Word: “And you will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22; Lk. 21:17; John 15:18). For example, the disciples were mocked, hated, and murdered. “For I think, God has exhibited us, the apostles, last of all as men condemned to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to mankind.” (1 Cor. 4:9). When you experience hatred or mocking for following Jesus’ Word, pray for strength to endure.

  • Pray for God’s strength to persevere. David gave thanks that God was faithful to bare his burdens each day to give him the strength to persevere: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah” (Ps. 68:19). He knew that God would never abandon what He started through David: “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your faithfulness, LORD, is everlasting; do not abandon the works of Your hands.” (Ps. 138:8). Believers must also trust God to give them the strength to persevere through their old age: “Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will carry you! I have done it, and I will bear you; and I will carry you and I will save you.” (Is. 46:4). With faith and perseverance, Jesus can and will finish the good work He started in you: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)

  • Pray for God’s strength to persevere and never become complacent. Just because you may currently be strong in your faith or know the Word well does not mean that you can cease being vigilant about your faith: “The psalmist knew the faithfulness of God through his younger years and now asked that God continue that faithfulness in his old age and as his strength fails. He knew that man’s strength diminishes with old age, but God’s strength does not. . . The psalmist did not only speak of the loss of physical and mental strength, but also the potential loss of spiritual strength. Not every believer grows stronger in the Lord as he grows older. The Bible is filled with examples of those who sinned or fell away in the older years. · David sinned against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah in his mature years (2 Samuel 11). · Solomon was drawn away to idolatry in his later years (1 Kings 11). · King Asa’s trust in God greatly declined in his later years (2 Chronicles 16:7-12).” (David Guzik on Ps. 71) (emphasis original).6

  • Jesus promises to bless you if you persevere. If you keep your faith through your trials, Jesus will save you: “But the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13). “By your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Lk. 21:19). Jesus will also give you a special crown of life when you live forever with Him in heaven: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (Jam. 1:12).

4. Seeking Jesus: Make a Life-Long Commitment to Seeking Jesus. Ps. 71:12-13.

  • David cried out for God’s presence. As his enemies sought to kill him in his weakened state, David cried out for God’s presence to bring him comfort, protection, and justice: “12 God, do not be far from me; my God, hurry to my aid! 13 May those who are enemies of my soul be put to shame and consumed; may they be covered with disgrace and dishonor, who seek to injure me.” (Ps. 71:12-13). God also wants you to make a life-long habit of seeking Him out with all your will. He will then provide for all your needs.

  • Throughout his life, David regularly sought out God’s presence. Throughout his times of need, David regularly cried out for God’s presence to surround him: “Do not be far from me, for trouble is near; for there is no one to help.” (Ps. 22:11). “You have seen it, LORD, do not keep silent; Lord, do not be far from me.” (Ps. 35:22). “Hurry to help me, Lord, my salvation!” (Ps. 38:22). “A Psalm of David. To You, LORD, I call; My rock, do not be deaf to me, for if You are silent to me, I will become like those who go down to the pit.” (Ps. 28:1). “Hear my prayer, LORD, and listen to my cry for help; do not be silent to my tears; for I am a stranger with You, One who lives abroad, like all my fathers.” (Ps. 39:12). Whatever trial you face, make it a habit to seek out Jesus.

  • Seek out God's presence without delay. David cried out “hurry to my aid!” (Ps. 71:12). This matched his words in Psalms 40 and 70: “Be pleased, LORD, to rescue me; hurry, LORD, to help me.” (Ps. 40: 13). “A Psalm of David; for a memorial. God, hurry to save me; LORD, hurry to help me!” (Ps. 70:1). Never delay in seeking God’s presence. Instead, regardless of the nature of your trial, make a habit of seeking Him first.

  • You will find Jesus when you seek Him with all your heart. David knew that he could encounter God’s presence and His blessings if he sought out God with all his heart and soul: “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Dt. 4:29). “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). Jesus also promised that you will find Him when you seek Him out: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matt. 7:7). When you seek first His Kingdom, He promises to provide for your other needs (Matt. 6:33).

  • Leave vengeance to God. Instead of retaliating against his enemies, David left it to God to bring justice and thwart the plans of his enemies: 13 May those who are enemies of my soul be put to shame and consumed; may they be covered with disgrace and dishonor, who seek to injure me.” (Ps. 71:12-13). Throughout his life, David always left vengeance to God: “May those be ashamed and altogether humiliated who rejoice at my distress; may those who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and dishonor.” (Ps. 35:26). “May those be ashamed and humiliated together who seek my life to destroy it; may those be turned back and dishonored who delight in my hurt.” (Ps. 40:14). When you seek Jesus out and follow His will, you can also trust Him to bring justice to your situation. But you must be patient for Him to act according to His perfect timing.

5. Evangelism: Make a Life-Long Commitment to Evangelism. Ps. 71:14-18.

  • David proclaimed that he would declare God’s mighty and righteous deeds to everyone. From his youth until his old age, David never ceased to boast of God's faithfulness, righteousness, and His wondrous deeds: “14 But as for me, I will wait continually, and will praise You yet more and more. 15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; for I do not know the art of writing. 16 I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone. 17 God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. 18 And even when I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” (Ps. 71:14-18). God also wants you to share your testimony about His faithfulness in His life.

The Voice of Truth | Psalms, Psalm 71, Bible scriptures

Share your hope and praise for Jesus with others7

  • David made it a life-long habit to share his testimony and praise with others. David proclaimed: “I still declare Your wondrous deeds.” (Ps. 71:16). Throughout his life, David proclaimed that he would share his praise for God to all God’s peoples: “I will proclaim Your name to my brothers; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” (Ps. 22:18). “My foot stands on level ground; in the congregations I will bless the LORD.” (Ps. 26:12). “I will give You thanks in the great congregation; I will praise You among a mighty people.” (Ps. 35:18). “I have proclaimed good news of righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I will not restrain my lips, LORD, You know.” (Ps. 40:9). “Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul.” (Ps. 66:16). “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you.” (Ps. 32:8). David’s testimony was a light of hope for others.

  • Jesus also wants you to share your testimony and evangelize others. Jesus also wants you to share your testimony to let others know what He has done for you: “And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.” (Mk. 5:20). When you accept Jesus, His light shines within you as a beacon for others: “14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16). Are you sharing Jesus’ light inside you with your testimony of hope?

6. Gratitude: No Matter the Trial, Always be Grateful to God. Ps. 71:19-21.

  • David praised God for His holy character. David praised God for being unlike any other with His faithfulness, righteousness, love, protection and for His comforting presence: “19 For Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; God, who is like You? 20 You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth. 21 May You increase my greatness and turn to comfort me.” (Ps. 71:19-21). David kept from falling into despair by taking his eyes off his problems and focusing on all that God had done for him. You can also find comfort by focusing on what God has done for you.

  • Give thanks that God’s unconditional love and faithfulness is unlike any other. David proclaimed: “God, who is like You?” (Ps. 71:19). This evoked Moses’ song of deliverance after God parted the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh's army: “Who is like You among the gods, LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” (Ex. 15:11). “Many, LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is no one to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.” (Ps. 40:5).

  • Be grateful that God’s mercy and grace includes restoration. Psalm 71 proclaims: “21 May You increase my greatness and turn to comfort me.” (Ps. 71:21). To many, this represented David’s faith that God would restore his lost kingdom during Absalom’s rebellion. God may not restore all that you have lost because of sin during your time on Earth. But He will restore you and make you a new creation in heaven (2 Cor. 5:17).

7. Worship: Make a Life-Long Commitment to Worship God. Ps. 71:22-24.

  • David committed to showing his gratitude with ongoing worship and praise. Because of who God is and His holy character, David proclaimed that he would joyfully praise God: “22 I will also praise You with a harp, and Your truth, my God; I will sing praises to You with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed. 24 My tongue also will tell of Your righteousness all day long; for they are put to shame, for they are humiliated who seek my harm.” (Ps. 71:22-24). God also is worthy of your praise: “Where goodness has been unceasingly received, praise should unceasingly be offered.” (Charles Spurgeon on Ps. 71).8

  • David made worship a life-long habit. In his darkest times, David made it a personal habit to turn to God with praise and worship: “A Psalm of David, when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Ps. 34:1). “A Psalm of Praise, of David. I will exalt You, my God, the King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. . . My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.” (Ps. 145:1-2, 21). God wants you to follow his example.

  • Make praise and worship your life-long habit as well. One commentator observes: “God’s way for us to grow old is for us to develop a walk with Him now--a walk that involves a deep personal, experimental knowledge of God, a walk that includes the habits of trust, praise, and hope, and a walk that involves a lifestyle of ministry for God. Then, as long as we have life and breath, we can show and tell and sing of the greatness of our God to the next generation. (Steven J. Code) (Psalm 71: Growing Old God’s Way)”9

Psalm 71:24 Illustrated: "All Day Long" — Heartlight® Gallery

Show your gratitude with praise and worship for God10

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