I have leaned on You since birth; You pulled me from my mother's womb. My praise is always for You.
Proverbs 20:29). But he tells also of a nobler beauty, "The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness" (Proverbs 16:31). Old men are few, but godly old men are fewer still. Rarity signalizes the "beauty," and enhances the "glory." This psalm may well be called, "The Old Man's Psalm." Would that the portrait were more common! It is pleasant to look at in poetry; it is far more delightful to behold in fact. In this portrait of a godly old man, we may mark -
I. HIS SUBLIME FAITH." In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust" (ver. 1). Here is the secret of his character. "Trust" gave strength to his heart, and unity and completeness to his life. In this he was in sympathy with others who had gone before (cf. Psalm 31:1-3).
II. HIS EARNEST PRAYERS. The godly are ever given to prayer. It is their great resource. It is the never failing means of obtaining mercy and grace. They learnt to call upon God at their mother's knee (cf. Psalm 116:16; 2 Timothy 1:5), and all through life they have found the virtue and the blessedness of prayer. In old age the cry of the godly is, "I must pray more."
III. HIS VARIED EXPERIENCES. Often, when looking back, there is dimness, or many things have fallen out of sight, or there is a confusion in the perspective; but events that have made a deep impression stand out clearly. Memory goes back to the time of youth, and traces life onward, with all the great changes, the dangers and adventures, the attempts and the achievements, the joys and sorrows. There are grateful recollections of kindness and help from many; but above all, there is praise to God for his goodness and wonderful works (vers. 5, 6; cf. Isaiah 44:4).
IV. HIS SETTLED CONVICTIONS. Experience is a great teacher. The man who has seen many days has learned much, and is able to bear witness as one that speaketh with authority (Job 32:7; Leviticus 19:32; 2 Peter 1:13). One thing that the godly old man testifies is that God is worthy of trust; another thing is that the Word of God is not a cunningly devised fable, but truth; another thing is that religion is not a delusion, but a reality - the power of God unto salvation; another thing is that the most pleasant memories are of loyalty to God, and of good done to men, even to enemies, and that the saddest thoughts are of times when self prevailed over love and duty, and opportunities were lost from neglect and sloth.
V. HIS UNFALTERING RESOLUTION. The old have their regrets. They have also their times of trial and weakness. In another place the psalmist says, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken" (Psalm 37:25), and yet here he seems just for a moment to falter; but if he trembles at the thought of being a "castaway," as Paul also did (1 Corinthians 9:27), he renews his strength by prayer (vers. 17, 20). Then having gained courage, he pledges himself with fresh ardour to be true to God. Instead of wavering, he will press on. Instead of keeping silence, he will testify, by word and deed, to the strength and power of God. This was beautifully seen in Polycarp, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never wronged me; and shall I forsake my God and my Saviour?"
VI. HIS GLORIOUS PROSPECTS. For the old the end is near. They know that soon they must die, and have no more to do with anything under the sun. This seems a dismal condition. But for the godly there is not only hope in death, but the bright prospect of a blessed immortality. "The end of that man is peace," yea, more, far more, the future is glorious. - W.F.
By Thee have I been holden up from the womb.I. OUR BIRTH AND BEING ARE OWING TO GOD, AS THE ORIGINAL CAUSE OF THEM.
II. IT IS HIS PROVIDENCE WHICH SUSTAINS, PRESERVES, AND HOLDS UP OUR GOINGS IN LIFE. Even if the materials of our being had, in themselves, a self-subsisting power, yet the form of them by which we are men, by which we are creatures of such a species, this, we know, is liable to various contingencies, and obnoxious to many fatal alterations. Wherefore, as we derive our birth and being from the wisdom and power of our great Creator, so, if we were not nursed up by the care and goodness of His paternal providence, the brittle and tender threads of life had probably long since been broken in us, and we had consequently returned to the dust from whence we were taken.
III. THERE IS A PROVIDENTIAL DIRECTION AND DISPOSAL OF SUCH EVENTS AS CONCERN US. If we would attend to God's dealings with us, every man, I doubt not, might find his own experience attesting the truth and fact of this directing, overruling, superintending providence. Conclusion.
1. If God be our Creator, Preserver, and Governor, then we can nowhere fix our dependence so properly, nowhere with such security and safety, as upon His infinite goodness, wisdom, and power.
2. To render this persuasion of our dependence on God more practical, we are not only to recognize His majesty and power in thought and in word, but in deed and in truth.
3. If we owe our life and being to God, as the original cause and donor of them, let His demands upon us to resign them find us in the posture of a ready obedience.
(N. Marshall, D. D.)
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