Tag Archives: Psalm 71

Honest Reflections

English: King David engraving from a front pag...
English: King David engraving from a front page of the French protestant psalm book of 1817 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 71

Though you have made me see troubles,  many and bitter,  you will restore  my life again;  from the depths of the earth  you will again bring me up.  Psalm 71:20 (NIV)

The Christmas season and the subsequent New Year is always a time of reflection. Where have I been this year? What kind of year has it been? Where am I going and what will next year bring? How has our family changed this year? In what ways are we always the same, the repetitive behavioral and relational patterns stuck like a record player in the same old groove?

Both Psalm 70 and Psalm 71 are songs of reflection. Both of them were penned in David’s old age. I like the above lyric. It comes from the wisdom of a long and active life. David was a boyhood hero, a son-in-law of the King, a best friend of the prince, a successful military leader, a King of his own tribe Judah and eventually a King of the nation of Israel. He was a warrior, a conqueror, a lover, a song writer, and a poet. Above all else, God called him “a man after my own heart.” Talk about a great story.

But, that’s not the whole story. David was also an outlaw, a rebel, a wanted man, a deceiver, a liar, an adulterer, a murderer, and a poor and distant father. He spent much of his early adulthood on the run from the law living in caves. His eventual reign as King was marked by political discord and scandal.

Life is what it is. Beneath the most whitewashed public lives you’ll find “troubles, many and bitter.” Despite our culture’s desire to see humanity as inherently good and progressive, God’s Message clearly teaches that humanity is tragically flawed. Despite our best efforts our penchant to look out for our own desires and needs instead of loving others more than ourselves keeps getting in the way with tragic results.

Like David, my reflections of the past are filled with both good times and difficulties, of both successes and bitter failures. Each year’s time of reflection always reaches the same conclusion:

God, have mercy on me. I always fall so short of the person I should be. I need a savior.

Fortunately, these annual reflections and this repetitive conclusion coincide with Christmas.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 (KJV)

Still Playing My Part, to the Best of My Ability

tom as warbucks
Playing Warbucks

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 71

Now that I am old and gray,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Psalm 71:18 (NLT)

One of the things I’ve learned from the stage is knowing your part and your place. I’ve played parts under many different directors. Some of them have been brilliant and knew far more than I will ever know. Others have been inexperienced and clearly struggled with what they were doing. In either case, my job is still the same: to play my part to the best of my ability.

I was a young man in my twenties when I was working in pastoral ministry. I was subjected to regular interrogations about my youth and inexperience. I felt under constant scrutiny. Times change. I’m a little further down life’s road and I’ve finally got a little life experience and wisdom behind me. It’s funny, however. Now I tend to feel old and irrelevant to the generations who follow after me. From young and suspect to old and irrelevant, the tipping point came and went without me noticing.

Perhaps that is the way of it. You can’t control such things. Psalm 71 is a lament from David’s elder years. I can’t imagine what he experienced as he got older. He was the boy hero of Israel who slew Goliath and then led countless military exploits for both Israel and Judah. He made his name on youth, strength, and the physical deeds of a warrior. He must have grieved getting older and coming to the realization that the things which made him famous were only a distant memory.

I can’t control who is directing  a show. I can’t control time. I can’t control the doubts or perceptions of others. There will always be critics. The only thing I control is the part I play. I control what I do and say and write each day. As the Bard said, “All the world’s a stage” and as I play out my part I have an audience of one. In old age I will recite the same soliloquy and proclaim the same Message I communicated when I was young. I will play my part to the best of my ability.  In this I have faith that I’m playing for the most creative and brilliant Director that has ever been and will ever  be. What He chooses to do with me on this grand stage is totally His call. He has a grand vision for this production called life which is beyond my capacity to comprehend. My job is simply to play the part I’ve been given to the best of my ability.