By whose strength are we victorious? In whom do we stand tall with confidence? On what do we rely on when our hairs are grey, our eyesight blurred, our hearing impaired, our abilities fail?
The psalmist of chapter 71 gives us the answer, but it is an answer given in the face of the enemy who takes advantage of the psalmist’s weaknesses. The enemies have spoken against him; they are the ones who say that God has forsaken him, for there is no one to deliver (vv.10-11); they are the adversaries of the psalmist’s very soul.
However, Spurgeon states that with the multiplication of infirmities come the multiplication of blessings and privileges:
There is something touching in the sight of hair whitened with the snows of many a winter: the old and faithful soldier receives consideration from his king, the venerable servant is beloved by his master. When our infirmities multiply, we may, with confidence, expect enlarged privileges in the world of grace, to make up for our narrowing range in the field of nature. Nothing shall make God forsake those who have not forsaken him. Our fear is lest he should do so; but his promise kisses that fear into silence.
What is the remedy for this shame brought on us by the enemy? The psalmist finds refuge in declaring truths about who God is. What does he say to Him? In Your righteousness, deliver me (v.2; also vv.15-16); be You to me a rock of habitation (v.3); You are the one who have given commandment to save me (v.3); You are my rock and my fortress (v.3); You are my hope, You are my confidence from my youth (v.5); You are He who took me from my mother’s womb (v.6) ; You are my strong refuge, the reason I have become a marvel to many (v.7); my mouth tells of Your salvation all day long (v. 15). When we are old, do not forsake us (vv 9, 18). You are the one who can bring me up again from the depths of the (v.20). In You is the power of resurrection! This is both ‘Resurrection’ with a capital R as well as a resurrection when it comes to our spiritual lives:
“Thou shalt not only restore me to my greatness again, but shalt increase it, and give me a better interest, after this shock, than before; thou shalt not only comfort me, but comfort me on every side, so that I shall see nothing black or threatening on any side.” Note, sometimes God makes his people’s troubles contribute to the increase of their greatness, and their sun shines the brighter for having been under a cloud. If he make them contribute to the increase of their goodness, that will prove in the end the increase of their greatness, their glory; and if he comfort them on every side, according to the time and degree wherein he has afflicted them on every side, they will have no reason to complain. When our Lord Jesus was quickened again, and brought back from the depths of the earth, his greatness was increased, and he entered on the joy set before him. – Spurgeon
So Psalm 71 moves from describing the Lord who is our refuge, to the adversaries who sought to shame and consume us, to singing and praising of His name (vv.22-24). David, the likely author of this chapter, relied not on his own strength. In the wisdom of his old age, he knows that his salvation and strength had always come from the Lord, even more so in the midst of persecution and days of persistent weakness. Yet, it is in that worldly weakness that the enemy attempts to exploit, that instead it is poised to be defeated by Him who is the One who commanded our salvation and would see his commandment through.