‘GOD BE AT MINE END’1
Almighty God, I come to you with praise and worship. May the joy that is mine in following you be evidenced by everyone I meet today.
Read PSALM 71
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.
6 From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
7 I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
9 Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue him and seize him,
for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
may those who want to harm me
be covered with scorn and disgrace.
14 As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
20 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.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.
22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless … Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, your victory? / I triumph still, if thou abide with me.’2
I am so glad it fell to me to share this psalm with you. I relate so deeply to it. Like the psalmist, I knew God as a child, knowing and loving my parents’ Jesus long before my earliest memories. Then I, too, have become ‘old and grey’ (v 18) and want to feel God’s presence closer to me as my physical and mental strengths wane. The psalmist’s enemies were flesh and blood. He knew that only God had enabled him to defeat them. Now he grows old, his enemies remain but he knows his increasing weakness. He needs God more than ever. For most of us, the enemies which attack us are spiritual but no less dangerous. Evil forces can mislead us, grasp us, and entrap us.
It has been a privilege to follow Jesus for 80 years, but it has given the forces of evil many opportunities to assail me. With the psalmist, I can only feel that it has always been God who rescued me and brought me through, time and again, to a spiritually safe place. I don’t want to become like some of my friends who are losing their memories but, if I do, God will not forget me. Deep down, I know that Jesus has opened the path to eternal life. That is my destiny. The psalmist had no such assurance. He could only reach out in blind faith that, even from the grave, God could raise him to life (v 20). He could only stretch out the trembling fingers of his Old Testament mind to try to touch what we can know with certainty: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.’3 That is the only true peace that can fill my heart and mind, even as little of life remains.
The Lord of our destiny is ever with us. Trust God, in light and darkness, knowing that our eternal future is safe.
O Lord, thank you for the gift of my salvation and surety of eternal life. Thank you for the many times you have proven your love for me, both in good times and bad. Help me to testify to your faithfulness wherever you lead me, whatever may yet come.
1 Sarum Prayer, Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis, 1514 2 Henry Lyte, 1793–1847, ‘Abide with me’ 3 1 John 5:11
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