May 10: Old, Wise, and Desperately in Need of God
Judges 18:1–19:30; Philippians 4:10–20; Psalm 71:1–24
Sometimes we expect that we’ll naturally grow in faith as we grow older. We tend to see elderly people as those who have been molded and shaped by life—rock-solid in their faith and untapped sources of wisdom. That, or we speed around them in the grocery aisle, blissfully disengaged with the reality that our bodies, too, will slow down and endure pain.
While the psalmist seems to express a shadow of both these perspectives in Psa 71, neither of them is complete. Adopting the point of view of an elderly person, he reflects on his life. His prayer to God shows us that maturing in faith isn’t automatic.
The elderly man is respected by others, but he doesn’t trust in the honor that some ascribe to him. He knows that Yahweh is the source of his strength, and he praises Him continually: “I have become a wonder to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, with your glory all the day” (Psa 71:7).
Perhaps forsaken or looked down on by others, he makes a request for God’s presence: “Do not cast me away in the time of old age” and “even when I am old and gray, O God, do not abandon me” (Psa 71:9, 19). He continues to request God’s nearness: “O God, do not be far from me. My God, hurry to help me” (Psa 71:12).
Perhaps most poignant is the intensity of the psalmist’s trust in God. Even in his old age, though he has “leaned from birth” upon God, he can’t place his trust in his past years of faithfulness (Psa 71:6). His “praise is of [God] continually” (Psa 71:6). He also feels a responsibility to pass on the testimony of God’s works: “I will come in to tell the mighty deeds of Lord Yahweh. I will make known your righteousness, yours only” (Psa 71:16).
Maturity in faith isn’t awarded like a badge after we have put in our time. It’s not an achievement. The elderly man’s prayer acts as a testimony of God’s faithfulness—past and present. Maturity of faith is something you continue to “be” and “do” and “seek.”
How do you treat the elderly people in your life? What can you learn about God from them?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- In those days there was no King in Israel, and at the same time the tribe of Dan sought them an inheritance to dwell in: for unto that time all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel. Therefore the children of Dan sent of their family, five men out of their coasts, even men expert in war, out of Zorah and Eshtaol, to view the land and search it out, and said unto them, Go, and search out the land. Then they came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah and lodged there. When they were in the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite, and being turned in thither, they said unto him, Who brought thee hither? or what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou to do here? And he answered them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his Priest. Again they said unto him, Ask counsel now of God, that we may know whether the way which we go, shall be prosperous. And the Priest said unto them, Go in peace: for the Lord guideth your way which ye go. Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, which dwelt careless, after the manner of Sidonians, quiet and sure, because no man made any trouble in the land, or usurped any dominion: also they were far from the Sidonians, and had no business with other men. So they came again unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtoal: and their brethren said unto them, What have ye done? And they answered, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and surely it is very good, and do ye sit still? be not slothful to go and enter to possess the land. (If ye will go, ye shall come unto a careless people, and the country is large) for Gad hath given it into your hand. It is a place which doth lack nothing that is in the world. Then there departed thence of the family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with instruments of war. And they went up, and pitched in Kirjath Jearim in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahaneh Dan unto this day: and it is behind Kirjath Jearim. And they went thence unto mount Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah. Then answered th efive men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, Know ye not, that there is in these houses an Ephod, and Teraphim, and a graven and a molten image? Now therefore consider what ye have to do. And they turned thitherward and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him peaceably. And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which were of the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate. Then the five men that went to spy out the land, went in thither, and took the graven image and the Ephod, and the Teraphim, and the molten image: and the Priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war. And the other went into Micah’s house, and fet the graven image, the Ephod and the Teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the Priest unto them, What do ye? And they answered him, Hold thy peace: lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and come with us to be our father and Priest. Whether is it better that thou shouldest be a Priest unto the house of one man, or that thou shouldest be Priest unto a tribe and to a famil in Israel? And the Priest’s heart was glad, and he took the Ephod, and the Terphim, and the graven image, and went among the people. And they turned and departed, and put the children, and the cattle, and the substance before them. When they were far off from the house of Micah, the men that were in the houses near to Micah’s house, gathered together, and pursued after the children of Dan. And cried unto the children of Dan: who turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth thee that thou makest an outcry? And he said, Ye have taken away my gods, which I made, and the Priest, and go your ways: and what have I more? how then say ye unto me, What aileth thee? And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life with the lives of thine household. So the children of Dan went their ways: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back into his house. And they took the things which Micah had made, and the Priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a quiet people, and without mistrust, and smote them wiht the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire: And there was none to help, because Laish was far from Sidon, and they had no business with other men: also it was in the valley that lieth by Beth Rehob. After, they built the city, and dwelt therein, And called the name of Dan their father, which was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the ciy was Laish at the beginning. Then the children of Dan set them up the graven image: and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, and his sons were the Priests in the tribe of the Danites, until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set them up the graven image, which Micah had made, all the while the house of God was in Shiloh. Also in those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite dwelt on the side of mount Ephraim, and took to wife a concubine out of Bethlehem Judah, And his concubine played the whore there, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehem Judah, and there continued the space of four months. And her husband arose and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to birng her again: he had also his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him unto her father’s house, and when the young woman’s father saw him, he rejoiced of his coming. And his father-in-law, the young woman’s father received him: and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there. And when the fourth day came, they arose early in the morning, and he prepared to depart: then the young woman’s father said unto his son-in-law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and then go your way. So they sat down and did eat and drink, both of them together. And the young woman’s father said unto the man, Be content. I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry. And when the man rose up to depart, his father-in-law was earnest: therefore he returned, and lodged there. And he arose up early the fifth day to depart, and the young woman’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee: and they tarried until after midday, and they both did eat. After when the man arose to depart with his concubine and his servant, his father-in-law, the young woman’s father said unto him, Behold now, the day draweth toward even: I pray you, tarry all night: behold, the sun goeth to rest: lodge here, that thine heart may be merry, and tomorrow get you early upon your way, and go to the tent.But the man would not tarry, but arose, and departed, and came over against Jebus, (which is Jerusalem) and his two asses laden, and his concubine were with him. When they were near Jebus, the day was sore spent, and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn unto this city of the Jebusites, and lodge all night there. And his master answered him, We will not turn into the city of strangers that are not of the children of Israel, but we will go forth to Gibeah. And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places, that we may lodge in Gibeah or in Ramah. So they went forward upon their way, and the Sun went down upon them near to Gibeah, which is in Benjamin. Then they turned thither to go in and lodge in Gibeah, which is in Benjamin. Then they turned thither to go in and lodge in Gibeah: and when he came, he sat down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging. And behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, and the man was of mount Ephraim, but dwelt in Gibeah: and the men of the place were the children of Jemini. And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the streets of the city: then this old man said, Whither goest thou, and whence camest thou? And he answered him, We came from Bethlehem Judah, unto the side of mount Ephraim: from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehem Judah, and go now to the house of the Lord: and no man receiveth me to house. Although we have straw and provender for our asses, and also bread and wine for me and thine handmaid, and for the boy that is with thy servant: we lack nothing. And the old man said, Peace be with thee: as for all that thou lackest, shalt thou find with me: only abide not in the street all night. So he brought him into his house, and gave fodder unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink. And as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, wicked men beset the house round about, and smote at the door, and spake to this old man the master of the house, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house that we may know him. And this man the master of the house went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay my brethren, do not so wickedly, I pray you, seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this villainy. Behold, here is my daughter, a virgin, and his concubine: them will I bring out now, and humble them, and do with them what seemeth you good: but to this man do not this villainy. But the men would not hearken to him: therefore the man took his concubine, and brought her out unto them: and they knew her and abused her all the night unto the morning and when the day began to spring, they let her go. So the woman came in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till the light day. And her lord arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way, and behold, the woman his concubine was dead at the door of the house, and her hands lay upon the threshold. And he said unto her, up, and let us go: but she answered not, Then he took her up upon the ass, and the man rose up, and went unto his place. And when he was come to his house, he took a knife and laid hand on his concubine, and divided her in pieces with her bones into twelve parts, and sent her through all quarters of Israel. And all that saw it, said, There was no such thing done or seen since the time that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt unto this day: consider the matter, consult and give sentence. Judges 18:1–19:30
- Now I rejoice also in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care for me springeth afresh, wherein notwithstanding ye were careful, but ye lacked opportunity. I speak not because of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. And I can be abased, and I can abond: everywhere in all things I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry, and to abound, and to have want. I am able to do all things through the help of Christ, which strengthened me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate to mine affliction. And ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no Church communicated with me, concerning the matter of giving and receiving, but ye only. For even when I was in Thessalonica, ye sent once, and afterward again for my necessity. Not that I desire a gift: but I desire the fruit which may further your reckoning. Now I have received all, and have plenty: I was even filled, after that I had received of Epaphroditus that which came from you, an odor that smelleth sweet, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasant to God. And my God shall fulfill all your necessities through his riches in glory in Jesus Christ. Unto God even our Father be praise for evermore, Amen. Salute all the Saints in Christ Jesus. The brethren, which are with me, greet you. All the Saints salute you, and most of all they which are of Caesar’s household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen. Philippians 4:10–20
- In thee, O Lord, I trust: let me never be ashamed. Rescue me and deliver me in thy righteousness: incline thine eart unto me and save me. Be thou my strong rock, whereunto I may always resort: thou hast given commandment to save me: for thou art my rock, and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked: out of the hand of the evil and cruel man. For thou art mine helper, O Lord God, even my trust from my youth. Upon thee have I stayed from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be always of thee. I am become as it were a monster unto many: but thou art my sure trust. Let my mouth be filled with thy praise, and with thy glory every day. Cast me not off in the time of age: forsake me not when my strength faileth. For mine enemies speak of me, and they that lay wait for my soul, take their counsel together. Saying, God hath forsaken him: pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him. Go not far from me, O God: my Go haste thee to help me. Let them be confounded and consumed that are against my soul: let them be covered with reproof and confusion, that seek mine hurt. But I will visit continually, and will praise thee more and more. My mouth shall daily rehearse thy righteousness, and thy salvation: for I know not the number. I will go forward in the strength of the Lord God, and will make mention of thy righteousness, and thy salvation: for I know not the number. I will go forward in the strength of the Lord God, and will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth even until now: therefore will I tell of thy wondrous works, Yea even unto mine old age and gray head. O God: forsake me not, until I have declared thine arm unto this generation, and thy power to all them that shall come. And thy righteousness, O God, I will exalt on high: for thou hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee? Which hast showed me great troubles and adversities, but thou wilt return and revive me, and wilt come again, and take me up from the depth of the earth. Thou wilt increase mine honor, and return and comfort me. Therefore will I praise thee for thy righteousness daily: for they are confounded and brought unto shame, that seek mine hurt. Psalm 71:1–24