In you, Lord, is my protection.
Never let me be ashamed.
Because you do what is right, save and rescue me;
listen to me and save me.
Be my place of safety
where I can always come.
Give the command to save me,
because you are my rock and my strong, walled city.
My God, save me from the power of the wicked
and from the hold of evil and cruel people.
Lord, you are my hope.
Lord, I have trusted you since I was young.
[Psalm 71: 1–5, New Century Version]
When we look around the world there seems little hope, and little reason for hope – a state of affairs that the writer of the Psalms knew all too well. Many of the Psalms tell or allude to stories of trial and tribulation, fear, and despair, either in the history of God’s people, or in the Psalmist’s own life, but running through all of these is the thread of hope – and none more so that Psalm 71.
In the Bible version quoted above, Psalm 71 is actually headed ‘An Old Person’s Prayer’ – I suppose because it was written by the Psalmist late in life – and because of this, it comes from a place of hindsight and from a wealth of experience that might be helpful for us too.
The Psalmist can hope in God because he has seen what God has done for him. He recognises God as his protection, rescuer, place of safety, rock, strong walled city (1–4), the one who has saved him from his enemies (5). In verse 19 he says: “God, your justice reaches to the skies. You have done great things… there is no one like you.” He has seen what God has done, what God can do, and believes that God will do it again – and so he puts his hope in God.
But the Psalmist doesn’t keep all this to himself. He tells others about God’s righteousness, salvation, justice, and powerful works (15–16, 18, 24). He also says “I am an example to many people, because you are my strong protection” (7); others can see God at work in his life, a living witness – they can see that he puts his hope in God.
The Psalmist is writing here from a place of continuing trouble, but five times he says that in spite of this, he will still praise God. Verse 13 speaks of “those who accuse me… who are trying to hurt me” but nevertheless he says “I will always have hope and will praise you more and more” (14). And he looks forward to God’s continuing goodness to him: “you will give me life… you will comfort me” (20, 21). He responds to God in worship, and continually puts his hope in God.
Despite his troubles, the Psalmist has recognised the wonders of God, has resolved to bear witness to others about God, and has responded to God with worship, because he has put his hope in a faithful, powerful God.
“I will always have hope and will praise you more and more.”
You have been with us from the day we were born.
You have done great things for us.
You are worthy of all our praise.
Forgive us when we forget the things you’ve done.
Forgive us when we miss the opportunity to tell others about you.
Forgive us when we lose hope.
Open our eyes to see the great things you have done.
Open our mouths to praise and worship you.
Open our heart to witness to others.
And may we always put our hope in you, O Lord.