The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…
Yet every one wishes to live long. Every one imagines for himself an old age; and an ideal human life includes it. And yet there are but few who have the experience of old age who would really wish others to share it. Not without good reason did the ancients say, "Those whom the gods love die young." Length of life is a doubtful good, because -
I. THE AGED ARE PUT ASIDE FROM THE ACTIVITIES OF LIFE. Life goes past them: opinions change; customs change; business is changed. The old man no longer fits; he must stand aside; if he persists in keeping his place, he ruins his business, and worries everybody. It is hard to have to live on into a time when we shall no longer be of any use.
II. THE AGED MUST BEAR THE BURDEN OF FAILING POWERS. See the description of old age in Ecclesiastes. See the force of the terms "labour" and "sorrow" in the text. The necessary weakening of the bodily faculties is accompanied - save in very extreme cases - with corresponding failing of mental powers, and a trying limitation of human interests. The old man ceases to belong to his day, and lives over again his childish years. Sometimes aged helplessness, with disease, is most pitiful.
III. THE AGED SOMETIMES HAVE TO BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE SINS OF YOUTH. All sins of sensuality and self-indulgence carry their inevitable penalties; and if the pressure of them be delayed by a well regulated manhood, they come on a man with a rush when the vitality is lowered by advancing age. A man bears "the sins of youth in the bones of old."
IV. THE AGED OFTEN FIND THEIR HEAVIEST TROUBLE TO BE THE LONELINESS IN WHICH THEY ARE LEFT. He who has had troops of friends dies at last tended by the hireling. Loved ones die away or remove out of reach. The old man often says, as did the Revelation William Jay, of Bath, in his advanced years, "My burying ground is richer than my church." To sensitive, affectionate souls, aged loneliness must be the supreme woe. Wife, children, friends, gone on before. How the old man must say to himself continually -
"What is my nest to me? - my empty nest?"
V. THE AGED SOMETIMES HAVE TO BEAR DISTRESSING CIRCUMSTANCES AS WELL AS BODILY FRAILTY. To live on means exhausting the savings; to be unable to earn; to have none to work for us. But life is in the Lord's hands, not ours. "If life be long, we will be glad, that we can long obey." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.