Psalm 71

Psalm 71
The Remnant’s Rising Confidence in God in the Face of Persecution
Psalm 71. This is what is called and “orphan Psalm”, which means it has not title or inscription, and this usually means it is an appendix to the preceding Psalm, and written by the same author; i.e. David in this case. This is very easy to see by the similar style and subject of Psalms 70 and 71. The historical backdrop of Psalms 70 and 71 is most likely the rebellion of Adonijah at the end of David’s life, although it is possible that it refers to that of Absalom. We will see numerous references to old age in Psalm 71, which fits well with David’s circumstances at the end of life. Further, the following Psalm speaks of Solomon’s glory as king, which we know literally took place shortly after the rebellion of Adonijah. Psalm 72 closes with these words, “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended”, indicating David’s death. The cry for deliverance continues in Psalm 71, with reference to “the unrighteous and cruel man”, who is Adonijah historically, but prophetic of Antichrist. Through the Psalm the faithful remnant encourage themselves, and the confidence rises higher and higher in corresponding measure to their appreciation of God’s righteousness, until at the end they are anticipating their praise when delivered.
1 In thee, Jehovah, do I trust: let me never be ashamed.
2 Deliver me in thy righteousness, and rescue me; incline thine ear unto me, and save me.
3 Be to me a rock of habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.
vv.1-3 Opening Cry for Deliverance. The Psalm opens with a cry for deliverance. It is notably addressed to Jehovah, but then in v.4 to God. The faithful expresses his confidence in the Lord, especially confidence in Jehovah’s righteousness. He calls upon Jehovah to rescue Him, hear his cry, and save him. He can speak of Jehovah as having been his rock and fortress, and desiring that He would continue to be his habitation; i.e. a refuge to which he could continually resort.
4 My God, rescue me out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
5 For thou art my hope, O Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth.
6 On thee have I been stayed from the womb; from the bowels of my mother thou didst draw me forth: my praise shall be continually of thee.
7 I have been as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.
8 My mouth shall be filled with thy praise, with thy glory, all the day.
9 Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.
vv.4-9 Cry to God for Deliverance in Lieu of Lifelong Trust. The faithful cry out to God to rescue them out of the hand of the wicked. The “hand of the unrighteous and cruel man” refers historically to Adonijah, but prophetically to Antichrist. He speaks of the Adonai Jehovah as having been his confidence from his youth, even from the womb. He speaks as having been “a wonder unto many”(v.7); i.e. this may refer to the “wonder” that the enemy has not been successful at exterminating the faithful remnant. The reason why the remnant has been preserved is that God has been their refuge (v.7). The prayer is that God would not cast them off in “the time of old age”. No doubt this refers historically to David’s old age, but it also refers to the state of the faithful remnant after having been worn down through 3 1/2 years of tribulation.
10 For mine enemies speak against me, and they that watch for my soul consult together,
11 Saying, God hath forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver.
12 O God, be not far from me; my God, hasten to my help.
13 Let them be ashamed, let them be consumed, that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt.
14 But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise thee yet more and more.
15 My mouth shall declare thy righteousness, and thy salvation all the day: for I know not the numbers thereof.
16 I will go in the might of the Lord Jehovah; I will recall thy righteousness, thine alone.
vv.10-16 Perseverance in Spite of Self-Assured Enemies. The remnant speaks of the enemies that are against them, slandering them and plotting together to destroy them. The enemy seems self-confident, believing that God has forsaken the faithful remnant. The cry is to pursue and seize on the faithful because there is none to deliver. In response (v.12) the faithful call out to God to hasten to their help. In v.13 they invoke the judgment of God on their enemies. Yet they maintain their confidence in God and resolve to praise Him more and more. In spite of all they are passing through, they will declare God’s righteousness and His salvation! They seem to believe their days are almost over, as if death is near; “for I know not the numbers thereof”. But they would carry on in the strength of Adoni Jehovah.
17 O God, thou hast taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I proclaimed thy marvellous works:
18 Now also, when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not, until I have proclaimed thine arm unto this generation, thy might to every one that is to come.
vv.17-18 Cry to God for Deliverance in Lieu of Future Service. The remnant speak of having been taught by God from their youth His ways, and having proclaimed them all their life. But now they are “old and greyheaded”, and they call on God now to not forsake them, because their work is not yet done. They have still to proclaim His “arm” or strength unto a future generation; “every one that is to come”.
19 And thy righteousness, O God, reacheth on high, thou who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee?
20 Thou, who hast shewn us many and sore troubles, wilt revive us again, and wilt bring us up again from the depths of the earth;
21 Thou wilt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.
22 I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, my God; unto thee will I sing psalms with the harp, thou holy One of Israel.
23 My lips shall exult when I sing psalms unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.
24 My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day; for they shall be ashamed, for they shall be brought to confusion, that seek my hurt.
vv.19-24 Looking Forward to Deliverance, and the Connected Praise. The faithful now rise higher in their confidence in corresponding measure to their appreciation of God’s righteousness; “thy righteousness, O God, reacheth on high.” Who can compare to God? Perhaps the appearing is in v.19, with the change of tense? They lay hold on the principle of resurrection; “Thou, who hast shewn us many and sore troubles, wilt revive us again, and wilt bring us up again from the depths of the earth”. This refers to the restoration of Israel, pictured as a national resurrection. And then, they refer to Israel’s prosperity in the land of Canaan once restored in the Millennial kingdom (v.21), being made head of the nations. They speak of the praise that they will sing to God, the “Holy One of Israel”. The faithful remnant looks forward with confidence that God will redeem them, and that their enemies will be ashamed by God’s judgment.