Psalm 71:9
Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails.
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(9-11) This piece may be compared with Psalm 41:6-8. The formal “saying” (Psalm 71:11), introducing a quotation, is an indication of a late date, the early literature employing no signs of quotation. (See, e.g., Psalm 68:12; Psalm 68:26.)

71:1-13 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.Cast me not off in the time of old age - When old age comes with its infirmities; its weaknesses; its trials. When my strength fails me; when my eyes grow dim; when my knees totter; when my friends have died; when I am no longer able to labor for my support; when the buoyant feelings of earlier years are no more; when my old companions and associates are gone, and I am left alone. Thou who didst watch over me in infancy; who didst guard me in childhood and youth; who hast defended me in manhood; who hast upheld me in the days of sickness, danger, bereavement, trouble - do thou not leave me when, in advanced years, I have special need of thy care; when I have reason to apprehend that there may come upon me, in that season of my life, troubles that I have never known before; when I shall not have the strength, the buoyancy, the elasticity, the ardor, the animal spirits of other years, to enable me to meet those troubles; and when I shall have none of the friends to cheer me whom I had in the earlier periods of my course. It is not unnatural or improper for a man who sees old age coming upon him to pray for special grace, and special strength, to enable him to meet what he cannot ward off, and what he cannot but dread; for who can look upon the infirmities of old age as coming upon himself but with sad and pensive feelings? Who would wish "to be" an old man? Who can look upon a man tottering with years, and broken down with infirmities - a man whose sight and hearing are gone - a man who is alone amidst the graves of all the friends that he had in early life - a man who is a burden to himself and to the world, a man who has reached the "last scene of all, that ends the strange eventful history," that scene of

"Second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything," -

That scene when one can say,

"I have lived long enough; my way of life

Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf;

And that which should accompany old age,

As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,

I must not look to have,"

Who can think of all this, and not pray for special grace for himself should he live to see those days of infirmity and weakness? And who, in view of such infirmities, can fail to see the propriety of seeking the favor of God in early years? Compare Ecclesiastes 12:1-6.

Forsake me not when my strength faileth - As I may expect it to do, when I grow old. A man can lay up nothing better for the infirmities of old age than the favor of God sought, by earnest prayer, in the days of his youth and his maturer years.

6-9. His history from early infancy illustrated God's care, and his wonderful deliverances were at once occasions of praise and ground of confidence for the future.

my praise … of thee—literally, "in" or "by Thee" (Ps 22:25).

9 Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.

10 For mine enemies speak against me; and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together.

11 Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.

12 God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.

13 Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt.

Psalm 71:9

"Cast me not off in the time of old age." David was not tired of his Master, and his only fear was lest his Master should be tired of him. The Amalekite in the Bible history left his Egyptian servant to famish when he grew old and sick, but not so the Lord of saints; even to hoar hairs he bears and carries us. Alas for us, if we were abandoned by our God, as many a courtier has been by his prince! Old age robs us of personal beauty, and deprives us of strength for active service; but it does not lower us in the love and favour of God. An ungrateful country leaves its worn-out defenders to starve upon a scanty pittance, but the pensioners of heaven are satisfied with good things. "Forsake me not when my strength faileth." Bear with me, and endure my infirmities. To be forsaken of God is the worst Of all conceivable ills, and if the believer can be but clear of that grievous fear, he is happy: no saintly heart need be under any apprehension upon this point.

Psalm 71:10

"For mine enemies speak against me." Dogs howl over a dying lion. When David's arm was able to chastise his foes, they were yet impudent enough to slander him, and he fears that now they will take fresh license in the hour of his weakness. The text most probably means that his enemies had said that God would forsake him; and, therefore, he is the more earnest that the Lord's faithful dealings may give them the lie. "And they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together." The Psalmist had enemies, and these were most malicious; seeking his utter destruction, they were very persevering, and staid long upon the watch; to this they added cunning, for they lay in ambush to surprise him, and take aim at a disadvantage: and all this they did with the utmost unanimity and deliberation, neither spoiling their design by want of prudence, nor marring its accomplishment by a lack of unity. The Lord our God is our only and all-sufficient resort from every form of persecution.

Psalm 71:11

"Saying, God hath forsaken him." O bitter taunt! There is no worse arrow in all the quivers of hell. Our Lord felt this barbed shaft and it is no marvel if his disciples feel the same. Were this exclamation the truth, it were indeed an ill day for us; but, glory be to God, it is a barefaced lie. "Persecute and take him." Let loose the dogs of persecution upon him, seize him, worry him, "for there is none to deliver him." Down with him, for he has no friends. It is safe to insult him, for none will come to his rescue, O cowardly boasts of a braggart foe, how do ye wound the soul of the believer; and only when his faith cries to his Lord is he able to endure your cruelty.

Psalm 71:12

"O God, be not far from me." Nearness to God is our conscious security. A child in the dark is comforted by grasping its father's hand. "O my God, make haste for my help." To call God ours, as having entered into covenant with us, is a mighty plea in prayer, and a great stay to our faith. The cry of "make haste" has occurred many times in this portion of the Psalms, and it was evoked by the sore pressure of affliction. Sharp sorrows soon put an end to procrastinating prayers.

Psalm 71:13


When I am most feeble, and most need thy help, and one who is grown old in thy service. Cast me not off in the time of old age,.... The Lord never casts off nor casts away his people, whom he foreknew; they are near unto him; they are on his heart, and are engraven on the palms of his hands; and they shall never be removed from his heart's love, nor out of his arms, nor out of his covenant, and shall always be the objects of his care: he bears and carries them to old age, and even to hoary hairs: the Lord had been the guide of David's youth, and his trust then, Psalm 71:5; and now he desires he would be the staff of his old age; at which age he was when Absalom rebelled against him;

forsake me not when my strength faileth: as it does when old age comes on; then the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow themselves, and especially at death, when flesh and heart fail; but God will never forsake his people, neither in youth nor in old age, neither in life nor at death.

Cast me not off in the time of {g} old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.

(g) You who helped me in my youth when I had more strength, help me now even more in my old age and weakness.

9. Cast me not of] Or, cast me not away, from Thy presence (Psalm 51:11), though for the time the nation as a whole is so cast out (Deuteronomy 29:28; Jeremiah 7:15).

9–13. Repeated deprecations and prayers.Verse 9. - Cast me not off in the lime of old age. This expression, combined with the allusion to old age and grey hairs in ver. 18, indicates that the writer was drawing near to the natural term of human life, and already felt the infirmities of old age creeping upon him. This note of date suits better the time of Adonijah's rebellion than that of Absalom's. Forsake me not when my strength faileth. An appeal to the Divine compassion. If God was his "Rock and Fortress" (ver. 3), his "strong Refuge" (ver. 7), when he was in his full vigour, much more will he support and befriend him when be is weak and helpless. Stayed upon Jahve, his ground of trust, from early childhood up, the poet hopes and prays for deliverance out of the hand of the foe. The first of these two strophes (Psalm 71:1-3) is taken from Psalm 31:2-4, the second (Psalm 71:4-6, with the exception of Psalm 71:4 and Psalm 71:6) from Psalm 22:10-11; both, however, in comparison with Psalm 70:1-5 exhibit the far more encroaching variations of a poet who reproduces the language of others with a freer hand. Olshausen wishes to read מעוז in Psalm 71:3, Psalm 90:1; Psalm 91:9, instead of מעון, which he holds to be an error in writing. But this old Mosaic, Deuteronomial word (vid., on Psalm 90:1) - cf. the post-biblical oath המעון (by the Temple!) - is unassailable. Jahve, who is called a rock of refuge in Psalm 31:3, is here called a rock of habitation, i.e., a high rock that cannot be stormed or scaled, which affords a safe abode; and this figure is pursued still further with a bold remodelling of the text of Psalm 31:3 : לבוא תּמיד, constantly to go into, i.e., which I can constantly, and therefore always, as often as it is needful, betake myself for refuge. The additional צוּית is certainly not equivalent to צוּה; it would more likely be equivalent to אשׁר צוית; but probably it is an independent clause: Thou hast (in fact) commanded, i.e., unalterably determined (Psalm 44:5; Psalm 68:29; Psalm 133:3), to show me salvation, for my rock, etc. To the words לבוא תמיד צוית corresponds the expression לבית מצודות in Psalm 31:3, which the lxx renders καὶ εἰς οἶκον καταφυγῆς, whereas instead of the former three words it has καὶ εἰς τόπον ὀχυρόν, and seems to have read לבית מבצרות, cf. Daniel 11:15 (Hitzig). In Psalm 71:5, Thou art my hope reminds one of the divine name מקוה ישׂראל in Jeremiah 17:13; Jeremiah 50:7 (cf. ἡ ἐλπίς ἡμῶν used of Christ in 1 Timothy 1:1; Colossians 1:27). נסמכתּי is not less beautiful than השׁלכתּי in Psalm 22:11. In its incipient slumbering state (cf. Psalm 3:6), and in its self-conscious continuance. He was and is the upholding prop and the supporting foundation, so to speak, of my life. And גוזי instead of גּחי in Psalm 22:10, is just such another felicitous modification. It is impracticable to define the meaning of this גוזי according to גּזה equals גּזה, Arab. jz', retribuere (prop. to cut up, distribute), because גּמל is the representative of this Aramaeo-Arabic verb in the Hebrew. Still less, however, can it be derived from גּוּז, transire, the participle of which, if it would admit of a transitive meaning equals מוציאי (Targum), ought to be גּזי. The verb גּזה, in accordance with its radical signification of abscindere (root גז, synon. קץ, קד, קט, and the like), denotes in this instance the separating of the child from the womb of the mother, the retrospect going back from youth to childhood, and even to his birth. The lxx σκεπαστής (μου) is an erroneous reading for ἐκσπαστής, as is clear from Psalm 22:10, ὁ ἐκσπάσας με. הלּל בּ, Psalm 44:9 (cf. שׂיח בּ, Psalm 69:13), is at the bottom of the expression in Psalm 71:6. The God to whom he owes his being, and its preservation thus far, is the constant, inexhaustible theme of his praise.
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