Psalm 71:9
Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.
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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. Psalm 71:9Brought safely through dangers of every kind, he is become כּמופת, as a wonder, a miracle (Arabic aft from afata, cognate afaka, הפך, to bend, distort: a turning round, that which is turned round or wrenched, i.e., that which is contrary to what is usual and looked for) to many, who gaze upon him as such with astonishment (Psalm 40:4). It is his God, however, to whom, as hitherto so also in time to come, he will look to be thus wonderfully preserved: מחסי־עז, as in 2 Samuel 22:33. עז is a genitive, and the suffix is thrown back (vid., supra, p 171) in order that what God is to, and does for, the poet may be brought forward more clearly and independently [lit. unalloyed]. Psalm 71:8 tells us what it is that he firmly expects on the ground of what he possesses in God. And on this very ground arises the prayer of Psalm 71:9 also: Cast me not away (viz., from Thy presence, Psalm 51:13; Jeremiah 7:15, and frequently) in the time (לעת, as in Genesis 8:11) of old age - he is therefore already an old man (זקן), though only just at the beginning of the זקנה. He supplicates favour for the present and for the time still to come: now that my vital powers are failing, forsake me not! Thus he prays because he, who has been often wondrously delivered, is even now threatened by foes. Psalm 71:11, introduced by means of Psalm 71:10, tells us what their thoughts of him are, and what they purpose doing. לי, Psalm 71:10, does not belong to אויבי, as it dies not in Psalm 27:2 also, and elsewhere. The ל is that of relation or of reference, as in Psalm 41:6. The unnecessary לאמר betrays a poet of the later period; cf. Psalm 105:11; Psalm 119:82 (where it was less superfluous), and on the contrary, Psalm 83:5. The later poet also reveals himself in Psalm 71:12, which is an echo of very similar prayers of David in Psalm 22:12, Psalm 22:20 (Psalm 40:14, cf. Psalm 70:2), Psalm 35:22; Psalm 38:22. The Davidic style is to be discerned here throughout in other points also. In place of הישׁה the Ker substitutes חוּשׁה, which is the form exclusively found elsewhere.
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