Voices from the Pew St.James’ Blog

A Reflection and Application of Psalm 71 

by Michael S. Larkin 
 
 
This psalm seems to be a prayer from the perspective of an older man who is really feeling the weakness of his advanced years. Most of us get there eventually, but for a guy still in his 30s, this reading may strike you as an odd choice.
 
I selected it for two reasons. One, the psalms were originally sung, so choosing a psalm for my reflection allows me to set these words to music, sharing them with you in the way they were originally intended…. and I will do that at the end.
 
The other reason is that the struggles of internal weakness, external oppression, and the occasional lack of confidence are universal, and can be felt by anyone at any age. 
 
So the psalmist begins by asserting that God is the source of his strength, safety, and freedom… as if to recognize that throughout his long life, difficult as it may have been at times, God has always taken care of him, and is therefore worthy of his endless praise. But now at this point in life, he also admits weakness.
 
It is unclear whether this weakness is physical or spiritual, but I don’t necessarily think it has to be one or the other. In fact, I think one may lead to the other. 
 
Let me give you an example.
 
When I was in college, I fell and broke my ankle. Immediately, I began to suffer from a physical weakness…the broken ankle. While spending endless hours resting in a cast, my mind would wander to a place of spiritual weakness where, from time to time, I asked myself why God would let this happen.
 
Obviously, it is pointless to question God’s motives or place blame when we never really have all the information. I knew this at the time, but I still asked, because, honestly it’s difficult, at any age, to have the confidence to simply trust that God is always with us, especially in the darkest times. 
 
So it’s interesting that the author is both aware of the lengths to which God has always gone to take care of him, and also still afraid that God will allow his enemies to move against him. I find it strange that he can be of two disparate minds on this, but I only have to look at my own experience with a broken ankle to remember that human beings are stubborn and complex creatures that sometimes just don’t make any sense.
 
But because we are His children, God knows this about us, and He loves us anyway… in the times when it’s easy to praise him, and in the times when our weakness makes us forget that we are never alone. 
 
Please find below my lyrical interpretation inspired by Psalm 71: 
 

In You, O Lord, I am granted refuge 

In You, O Lord, I’m not ashamed 

In you, I am delivered into freedom 

Incline your ear to me and I am saved. 

Be my strong rock, a castle built for safety 

You are my crag and my stronghold. 

Deliver me, my God, from those who hate me 

from the clutches of the wicked one’s fold. 

Though I may be a sign for some 

Of Your kingdom yet to come 

I do so with Your strength alone 

So let my mouth Your glory intone 

Let those who set themselves against me 

Be disgraced 

Let those who seek to do me wrong 

Receive in turn the same in its place 

But I shall always wait in patience 

And praise you more and more. 

For You’re my hope, O Lord my God Almighty 

For You’ve been my strength since I was small 

For You my praises shall always be 

You’ve strengthened me that now I can stand tall 

Though I may be a sign for some 

Of Your kingdom yet to come 

I do so with Your strength alone 

So let my mouth Your glory intone 

Let those who set themselves against me 

Be disgraced 

Let those who seek to do me wrong 

Receive in turn the same in its place 

But I shall always wait in patience 

And praise you more and more. 

Do not cast me off in my old age 

Forsake me not when my strength fades 

For my enemies move against me 

And lie in wait for any opportunity 

They say, “God has forsaken him 

He is waning and lonely 

No one here will save him” 

God, be not far from me 

Though I may be a sign for some 

Of Your kingdom yet to come 

I do so with Your strength alone 

So let my mouth Your glory intone 

Let those who set themselves against me 

Be disgraced 

Let those who seek to do me wrong 

Receive in turn the same in its place 

But I shall always wait in patience 

and shall praise you more and more 



Sabbatical Reflections

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