O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now 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. – Psalm 71:17,18
In this psalm, the writer reflects on the trials of the journey. He expresses his hope in the power of the Lord. He praises and thanks God for His goodness and protection. With these thoughts and reflections he has written the words of our selected text, “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth.”
This statement is true for a childhood believer. The teaching of God’s Word begins in the home. As little children, we learn the ABCs of faith. These same teachings are reinforced in Sunday school and at services. As we advance in years, we remember those teachings and how they have been the foundation for our life of faith. This is a special memory that one has of growing up in a believing home.
We remember how parents and other older believers talked of the way and the journey and instructed us about putting sin away. A believing family lives what they believe. The teachings of faith are current day to day and moment to moment. The most important lesson was that Jesus died for our sins and we are thus able to believe our sins forgiven in His name and blood.
“And hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.” The teachings from childhood develop into a life of service to God. The fear of God and the desire to reach heaven lead one to travel in faith, putting sin away as it attaches. We wish to share our own personal joy of believing. This joy can be passed to our children and friends. When we are given teaching duties, what better way to teach than to confess that which we believe? We can serve with joy, knowing that God has saved us through His Son.
“Now when I am old and greyheaded, O God forsake me not.” How is it for one who grows old and greyheaded? The desire to reach heaven remains strong, but the battle to remain in faith does not diminish with age. The enemy works diligently to draw weary travelers away from God’s kingdom. The way to heaven can become more difficult. Trials grow heavy. As the psalmist pleads, “O God, forsake me not.” Be assured that God hears your prayers!
Even in old age, God does not forget His own. He has allowed for congregational activities to flourish – services, camps, time for visiting and discussions. He has given us precious escorts in our lives, including some in the same stage of life who share similar life experiences, joys and trials of the journey.
Elders may be tempted to ask, “What use do I have in this life anymore?” and “Why does God keep me here?” It is good to remember that our lives are always in the hand of God. He has a purpose for each and every life that He has blessed into this world. For some, that purpose is fulfilled at a far younger age. For others, the years stretch on, even to a point of feebleness and infirmity. One may begin to question what value he or she has in this world anymore.
“Until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” Our text reminds us of God’s purpose for the elderly. It is the duty of elders to teach the younger generation of God’s goodness and mercy. They can recall from their own life experiences how God has guided the way and how His blessing has been shown.
The elders in God’s kingdom are a valuable sounding board for those with questions or those who are troubled and need to speak of the way and the journey. Because of their experience in life and faith, elders can serve as a voice of calm and peace in the discussions of the congregation – a voice that is often needed to temper the excitement, impulsiveness and even impatience of a younger member.
The elders are an example to the young of how God’s protection remains over us throughout our lives. The hope of heaven is with us as long as we travel under the gospel of Christ.
Dear elderly readers, be encouraged by the promises of God that He has not forgotten you. “But the very hairs of your head are numbered” (Matt. 10:30). When the last day comes, a believer personally hears Jesus’ call, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).