Today we shall be studying Psalm 71 meaning from verse to verse. Psalm 71 is the prayer of an elderly man threatened by his enemies (verses 9, 18). Before expressing his petition properly, the psalmist first states a brief introduction to his petition (verses 1-4). He reinforces these words with a marvelous statement of his lifelong trust in the Lord (verses 5-8). This section is rich with the expression of trust and communion with God: “Thou are my hope” (verse 5), “thou art my trust (verse 5), “thou are he” (verse 6), “thou are my strong refuge” (verse 7), “thy praise and … thy honor (verse 8). The impression is left that a psalmist is a mature man of faith who reacts to his troubles with implicit trust in God. His actual petition and lament are now given (verse 9-13). It is a prayer for help for himself and judgment for his enemies. Further, he expresses his confidence in being answered (verses 14-21), and his consequent praise (verses 22-24).
Psalm 71 Meaning Verse By Verse
Verse 1: In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.
The first line of this psalm looks to God and declares David’s trust in God; the psalmist was confident that such trust in the LORD would lead to vindication and that he would never be put to shame. The Psalmist so often begins his prayer with a declaration of his ‘faith’ which is to the soul in the affliction of what an anchor is to a ship in distress.
Verse 2: Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.
Because the psalmist trusted in God, he boldly asked God to act righteously on his behalf and to deliver him. He asked that the righteousness of God work on his behalf. In the first line the psalmist established the basis of God’s rescue: deliver me in your righteousness. He then called on God to act righteously on behalf of His needy servant, to rescue and protect him.
Verse 3: “Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou [art] my rock and my fortress.
Be my strong habitation; Habitation here would be dwelling place. We can always hide in Jesus if we are a believer. He builds a hedge around us and protects us from the evil one. You are the rock that I build upon, and you are my strong fortress as well. “Here we see a weak man, but he is in a strong habitation: his security rests upon the tower in which he hides and is not placed in jeopardy through his feebleness.
Verse 4: Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
The source of the psalmist’s misery is revealed. There was a wicked man, unrighteous and cruel who seemed to hold the psalmist in his grip. From this, he needed God to deliver him. “Ever remembering that wickedness is at least as dangerous when it tempts as when it persecutes; and can smile, as well as a frown, these wicked are our enemies because they are God’s enemies. Unrighteous men are cruel because they do not have a conscience.
Verse 5: For thou [art] my hope, O Lord GOD: [thou art] my trust from my youth.”
The psalmist proclaimed his hope and trust in God of Israel. It wasn’t just that his hope was in God; He was his hope. “Thou art my trust from my youth”: In whom he trusted in his youthful days, of which there is an eminent instance in (1 Sam. 17:33). He strengthens his faith by the experience of God’s benefits, who did not only preserved him in his mother’s womb but took him from there, and ever since has preserved him.
Verse 6: “By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise [shall be] continually of thee.”
Noting God’s care and help to him from the earliest age, the psalmist appealed to God’s continued care, and in turn, he promised praise to God that was just as continual. My praise shall be continual of thee: this means where goodness has been unceasingly received, praise should unceasingly be offered.”
Verse 7: I am as a wonder unto many, but thou [art] my strong refuge
Because of the many adversities and attacks, many people were amazed at the psalmist. They were in wonder that a man – especially one so committed to God – could be so afflicted. Despite it all, he found a strong refuge in God Himself.
Verse 8: Let my mouth be filled [with] thy praise [and with] thy honor all the day.”
Because God had been so faithful as a strong refuge, the psalmist was determined to speak praise unto God and speak of His glory. God’s bread is always in our mouths, so should his praise be. He fills us with good; let us be also filled with gratitude. This would leave no room for murmuring or backbiting.
Verse 9: Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.”
The psalmist knew the faithfulness of God through his younger years and now asked that God continue that faithfulness in his old age and as his strength fails. He knew that man’s strength diminishes with old age, but God’s strength does not. “It is not unnatural or improper for a man who sees old age coming upon him to pray for special grace, and special strength, to enable him to meet what he cannot ward off, and what he cannot but dread; for who can look upon the infirmities of old age, as coming upon himself.
Verse 10 and 11: “For mine, enemies speak against me, and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together. Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for [there is] none to deliver [him].”
The psalmist knew what his adversaries said against him. He knew they claimed that God had forsaken him , and there is none to deliver him. His adversity made him think God was no longer with him, so it was an excellent time to attack (pursues and takes him).
Jesus knew what it was like for men to say against Him, “God has forsaken him” “Our Lord felt this barbed shaft, and it is no marvel if we his disciples feel the same.
Verse 12: “O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.” With determined enemies as described in the previous lines, the psalmist needed God’s help soon. He felt as if delayed support was no help at all. The psalmist had to deal with the fact that as his years advanced, his troubles did not go away. The problems remained. This is a significant test for some believers, but the psalmist understood it as compelling his constant and more personal trust in God.
Verse 13: Let them be confounded [and] consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered [with] reproach and dishonor that seek my hurt.
This was the help the psalmist asked for. He wanted God to strike his adversaries with confusion and consumption, disapproval and dishonor. He not only wanted them defeated but also discredited. The enemies of David are the enemies of God also.
Verse 14: But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.”
For deliverance and salvation from present outward troubles, for; more grace here and glory hereafter. It is the Excellency of the grace of hope to be exercised in times of affliction and distress. The psalmist was in a severe crisis and depended upon God for help. Yet in this psalm, he does not slip into despair or seems to lose the sense of God’s favor. is a wonderful combination of both problems and praise. “I will hope continually” (I shall expect deliverance after deliverance, and blessing after blessing; and, in consequence, I will praise thee more and more. As thy blessings abound, so shall my praises)
Verse 15: My mouth shall show forth thy righteousness [and] thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers.
David was happy to testify of both God’s righteousness and His salvation and to do so all day long. He felt the entire day was needed because he did not know the limits of God’s righteousness and salvation. They are limitless. I do not know their numbers: “Lord, where I cannot count, I will believe, and when a truth surpasses numeration, I will take to admiration.
Verse 16: I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, [even] of thine only.
Looking forward, the psalmist was confident in God’s strength, despite his sense of diminished personal power with advancing years. “He who goeth to the battle against his spiritual enemies should go, confiding not in his own ‘strength,’ but in that of the Lord God, not in his own ‘righteousness,’ but in that of his Redeemer. Such a person engages with omnipotence on his side, and cannot but be victorious.
Verse 17: O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
The psalmist had the blessed fortune to have followed God and learned of Him from his young years. It was something that benefited him to his older years, still declaring God’s beautiful works. To be taught from one’s youth displays stability and consistency. There is no fluttering about from one fad to another, from one controversy to another. He says, ‘O God, thou hast taught me from my youth,’ which implies that God had continued to teach him: and so indeed he had. The learner had not sought another school, nor had the Master turned off his pupil.
Verse 18: Now also when I am old and grey-headed, O God, forsake me not; until I have shown thy strength unto [this] generation, [and] thy power to every one [that] is to come.
He prayed for the continued presence of God so that he could declare God’s strength to a new generation. There is nothing more calculated to keep the heart of age young, than to stand by the young, sympathizing with their ambitions, heartening their endeavors, and stiffening their courage, by recounting the stories of the strength of God, the experiences of His might. There is nothing more pitiful, or else more beautiful than old age. It is pathetic when its pessimism cools the ardors of youth. It is lovely when its witness stimulates the visions and inspires the heroism of the young.”
Verse 19: Thy righteousness also, O God, [is] very high, who hast done great things: O God, who [is] like unto thee.
The psalmist considered the greatness of God, first in that His righteousness was of a different order than that of men, very high above that of men, and then, that God is the one who has done great things beyond what men can do. The surpassing righteousness and power of God made him ask, O God, who is like you? “God is alone, who can resemble him? He is eternal. He can have none before, and there can be none after; for in the infinite unity of his trinity, he is that eternal, unlimited, impartible, incomprehensible, and uncompounded ineffable Being, whose essence is hidden from all created intelligence, and whose counsels cannot be fathomed by any creature that even his hand can form.
Verse 20: [Thou], which hast showed me great and severe troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
David understood that all things were in God’s hands and that if he had experienced great and severe troubles that too, were shown to him by God. That same God could also revive him, bringing him up again from the depths of the earth. “Never doubt God. Never say that He has forsaken or forgotten. Never think that He is unsympathetic. He will quicken you again.”
Verse 21: Thou shalt increase my greatness and comfort me on every side.
More than a prayer, this was a confident proclamation. Though he was older in years, he still expected that God would increase his greatness and continue his comfort. You shall increase my greatness: The idea is that as the years continued, the psalmist would see more and more of the great things.
Verse 22: I will also praise thee with the psaltery, [even] thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.
The psalmist promised to praise God not only with his voice but also with his musical instruments. It would be a song celebrating God for what He has done (His faithfulness) and for whom He is (O Holy One of Israel). The psalmist was concerned about properly celebrating God’s person and work.
Verse 23 and 24: My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed. My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame that seeks my hurt.
There is no true praising of God unless it comes from the heart. And therefore, he promises to delight in nothing, except that in which God is glorified. His lips and soul were already given to praise God in song. Now he added the talk of his tongue to speak of God’s righteousness, especially as it was seen in triumph over his enemies.
When Do We Need This Psalm
- During old age when we can no longer rely on our physical strength to do things
- When we’re weary or weaken spiritually
- When you feel you need to praise God for what he has been doing in our lives since birth
- When we are overwhelmed with the circumstances around our old age
- Whenever you need God strength to do overcome the difficult stages of our lives
- Thank you, Lord, for the increasing strength from the days of my birth till now, glory to you in the highest, Hallelujah.
- Increase my greatness, O Lord. Let every word you have spoken come to pass in Jesus name.
- Order my steps towards my greatness every day. Let every contrary from my adversary come to nothing in Jesus name.
- Let me enjoy your everlasting arms of comfort all around me this day and forever in Jesus name. Amen.