So even to old age and gray hairs,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
Psalm 71 is a unique psalm in one distinct way. This psalm presents the psalmist, not as a strong young king or warrior, but as an aging saint of God. The psalmist cries out to God for help, as we see in many psalms. The psalmist prays for God to rescue him from enemies who seek his life, as we see in many psalms. But in this psalm, the psalmist is old.
Verse 18 of this psalm communicates something that every saint of God, old or young, needs to hear. As the psalmist prays for God’s deliverance, he gives a reason why he wants to be rescued. He prays, “O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
Stop the presses, and think this through. Look at the psalmists’ motivation. He is praying for rescue. He is praying for relief. He is praying for God to take care of him. But look why. He is not praying for God to just make his life comfortable. He is not praying that God will grant him ease as a reward for years of faithful service. He is not telling God, “I’ve paid my dues and I deserve a break.” No, this man is pleading with God for another chance to proclaim the goodness of God to another generation. He will not be satisfied until he sees more people, more young people, trust in God.
No matter what age you are, you can learn from this psalmist. When you pray, are you praying that God would take care of you so that you can take the gospel to the next generation? You see, this is the kind of prayer that God wants out of you. He does not want you to look for the comfort of your own generation, he wants you to be focusing on seeing to it that the next generation, the younger generation, has the chance to hear the gospel.
Imagine what this would look like in a church. You would see youth groups who, instead of only doing their own thing, are looking for ways to help in VBS and children’s Sunday School and even the nursery. You’d see twenty-somethings looking for ways to help in children’s worship. You’d see parents investing in the lives of students and not expecting that someone else will carry that burden for them. You’d see adult Sunday School classes, even senior adults, constantly pushing for new ways of doing things that would appeal to the younger crowd, even if that younger crowd is now in their forties. You’d see people giving themselves to discipling others who are younger than they are, even if only by a few years.
Folks, if we want to be like this psalmist, if we want to be godly like him, we need to be looking around for ways to see to it that the next generation gets the gospel. There is always a generation younger than you are. How can you give of yourself to see to it that the younger generation will hear and will understand the words of life? And be like this psalmist in the motivation of your prayers. He prayed to be rescued so that he could take the gospel to another generation. Why do you pray to be healed or to have financial stability? Let us learn to focus on ministering to the next generation, and we will find health in our generations as well.