Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails.
The time of old age is —
I. SPECIALLY THE TIME FOR PRAYER.
1. On account of personal need. The text is an appeal to the Divine compassion. This the heavenly Father always welcomes and honours. It is in the supreme distinction of His nature. How He proclaims it! "The Lord God merciful and gracious." It is a frequent title in the Psalms, "full of compassion." To what else can weakness turn so hopefully, so trustfully, so joyfully? Human life is compared to a journey. Men grow tired after long walking. All pilgrims find it so. But to come in then with timely help is altogether Divine. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity."
2. By reason of past memories. The psalmist calls to mind what God had done for him: "Thou hast taught me from my youth." Well, he makes that a ground of expectation that God would carry on and complete what He had begun. That is the logic of the heart. A child can understand it.
II. THE TIME OF HARVEST. If youth is passed in listless frivolity, old age will be childish or idiotic; but if it be passed in careful research and thoughtful study, it will be ripe in knowledge and understanding. If youth is passed in storing the false, the foul, the malicious, old age will be like the land of Egypt, hideous and loathsome, with its frogs and gadfly; but if it be passed in fellowship with the true, the pure, the loving, old age will be like Eden, with warbling songs and fragrant flowers, and ruddy and pulpy fruits. If in youth the passions are unbridled and burning, they will grow into tormenting fiends. If ruled and hallowed by the life of Christ, they will grow into bright angels with heavenly music.
III. THE TIME OF FIXEDNESS. In earlier days men prepare the facilities and the forces of later days. How absurd it would be to send people to apprenticeship at seventy years of age! They could not learn. So in every event of life the same rule will be found to apply. When men get old their passions cool; but their affections grow firmer, and their will grows stubborn. That sapling may be easily trained. That grown tree must be cut down. The old man will often see a better way, and sigh to enter it; but Nature cries: "Too late! too late!" In everything the law is imperative and irrevocable. If Wisdom speak, it is by this rule: "They that seek me early shall find me." In Grace, as in Nature, "now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." The Lord meets every one at the threshold and says: "My son, my daughter, give Me thy heart."
IV. THE TIME OF TESTIMONY. Those to whom we refer have had discipline and experience. They ought to have knowledge and conviction, and they ought to bear testimony of this for the honour of the Most High, and for the advantage of those with whom they have to do. It was so with the psalmist. He acted on this rule as every one ought to act. In his day the trial of faith was this — it was a dispensation of temporal rewards and punishments; yet they saw sometimes the wicked man prospering and the godly man seeming to suffer. Still he bore his testimony and said: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." The trial of faith in these days would rather seem to be in the pride and prevalence of unbelief. I own that it does not move me. You ask me why. Well, the work of the Good Spirit in every man's own heart must for that man be the most personal and perfect and abiding ground of confidence. Yet, apart from that, this fixes and satisfies me — that the Gospel in itself, in its teaching, and in its effects is only goodness. "There is none good but one, that is God;" and goodness can come from Him and from Him alone.
V. THE TIME OF FAREWELL AND WELCOME, giving up and getting. I say it is the time of farewell. There is one expression used by the Apostle Paul: "Though our outward man perish." Then it does perish: all biography tells us that. "The inward man is renewed day by day." Yes — the flesh decays; the spirit lives. The senses grow dull; but thought grows clearer and convictions grow stronger. Dreary memories lose their bitterness; holy ones get lighted up with a heavenly gladness. The simplest things in Nature shine with a heavenly light. The bloom and freshness and vigour seem an image of the untainted land. Earth Ceases to distract and to dazzle. Strength declines but ambitions die, and the soul is even as a weaned child. The hectic has gone from the cheek, but the fever has gone from the heart. The day's work is well nigh done, but then home is near, and home's rest and safety and gladness and love.
Parallel VersesKJV: Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.