A Sermon For Successful Senior Saints

Title: A Sermon For Successful Senior Saints

Bible Book: Psalms 71

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Senior Adults



The month of May is officially “Older Americans Month.” According to the Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration on Aging…

When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing, however. In April of 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens served as a prelude to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month.”

Thanks to President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 designation, what was once called Senior Citizens Month, is now called “Older Americans Month,” and has become a tradition.

Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since JFK has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities.

Earlier this month, on May 3rd, President Bush issued this year’s proclamation saying, “Older Americans teach us the timeless lessons of courage, sacrifice, and love. By sharing their wisdom and experience, they serve as role models for future generations. During Older Americans Month, we pay tribute to our senior citizens and their contributions to our Nation.”

I want to pay tribute this morning by preaching “A Sermon For Successful Senior Saints.” And I want  to begin by using a statement that Charles Spurgeon made back on Sunday morning, September 26th, 1875. Mr. Spurgeon took Psalm 71 as his sermon text and said, “Having this very pleasant task before me, I have been led to consider the subject of old age, and especially the old age of believers, and have concluded that ‘the reminiscences of an old man’ would furnish us a suitable topic for this morning’s discourse.”

This morning, as we think about our Senior Saints … like Spurgeon, I have been led to consider the subject of old age, and especially the old age of believers. Now Spurgeon entitled his sermon from Psalm 71 “The Old Man’s Sermon,” but I want to use as my title “A Sermon For Successful Senior Saints.”

It is thought by several commentators that David penned Psalm 71 when he fled from his son Absalom. If this is the correct chronological context of this psalm, then David would have been about 62 years old when he wrote this portion of scripture. And throughout the psalm, it becomes clear that he is writing from the perspective of old age. For example, in verse 9, he says, “Cast me not off in the time of old age.” Then in verse 18, he says, “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not.”

Of course, the subject of old age is not limited to the writings of David. There has been a lot said and written about old age and growing old.

Bette Davis said, “Old age is no place for sissies.”

John Glenn said, “There is still no cure for the common birthday.” Bernard Baruch said, “Old age is always 15 years older than I am.”

Frank Dickson said, “By the time a person gets to greener pastures, he (is too old to) climb the fence.”

Someone said, “One thing about getting old is that you can sing in the bathroom while brushing your teeth.”

A guy named R. M. Cornelius listed the Seven Ages of Man… At 6 weeks – all systems go

At 6 years – all systems “No!” At 16 years – all systems know At 26 years – all systems glow At 36 years – all systems owe

At 56 years – all systems status quo At 76 years – all systems slow

Somebody else said that the seven ages of man includes: spills, drills, thrills, bills, ills, pills, wills.

Robert Browning was a little more optimistic when he said, “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.”

Don Marquis said, “Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.” And there’s one thing about it, the longer we all live, the older we all get. Old age happens to the best of us, but it also happens to the worst of us. Growing old happens to all of us. In fact David said in 1 Kings 2:2, “I go the way of all the earth.” Everybody on earth is headed towards  old age, and none of the super pills, and strange potions, and surgical procedures can stop it.

But we’re not just considering the subject of growing older; we’re talking about believers who are growing older. We’re not just talking about going further in time; we’re talking about going further in trust. We’re not just talking about getting weaker in our fleshly experience; we’re talking about getting wiser in our faith experience. We’re not just talking about the vexing process of aging; we’re talking about the victorious possibilities of aging. We’re not just talking about Sullen Seniors; we’re talking about Successful Senior Saints.

And for those of you who don’t put yourself in the category of Senior Saints, don’t just ignore what we’re going to discover in Psalm 71 this morning. Theodore Roosevelt made a great statement when he said, “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”

There is instruction in this Psalm for those who have already arrived at an older station in life, and there is instruction in this Psalm for those who are headed that way, and in order to make a success of it, you need to start young. In this Psalm, there are several factors that blend together to form a picture of the Successful Saint in general and the Successful Senior Saint in particular.

I. Notice The Refuge Of The Successful Senior Saint

Verses 1-7

A. The Psalmist Has Desired A Saving Help In God

Verses 1-2, 4

(Psalms 71:1-2) In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. {2} Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.

trust – Hebrew 2620. chacah, to flee for protection; to confide in: --have hope, make refuge.

With the use of the word “save” in verse 2 that has the idea of succoring, and the use of the word “deliver” in verse 4 that has the idea of delivering a baby, it’s almost as if this old man is wanting Father God to care for him like a small baby. I don’t care how old your children get, they are always in a sense your babies. And in some way, that’s how it is in our relationship with God. We will always be His babies.

save – Hebrew 3467. yasha', to be open, wide or free, to be safe; to free or succor:-- defend, rescue, be safe, get victory.

(Psalms 71:4) Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.

Deliver me from the heathenistic (wicked), the harmful (unrighteous – morally distorted), and the harsh (cruel).

B. The Psalmist Has Described A Strong Habitation In God

Verse 3

(Psalms 71:3) 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.

strong – Hebrew 6697. tsuwr, a cliff (or sharp rock, as compressed); a rock or boulder; a refuge.

habitation – Hebrew 4583. ma'own, an abode, of God (the Tabernacle or the Temple), men (their home) or animals (their lair); hence a retreat (asylum): --den, dwelling place.

rock – Hebrew 5553. cela', to be lofty; a craggy rock, a fortress: -- strong hold.

fortress – Hebrew 4686. matsuwd, a net, or capture; also a fastness: --castle, defence, (strong) hold, be hunted, net, snare, strong place.

C. The Psalmist Has Discerned A Steadfast Hope In God

Verses 5-7

(Psalms 71:5-7) For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. {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. {7} I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.

hope – Hebrew 8615. tiqvah, literally a cord (as an attachment); expectancy: -- thing that I long for. It presents the idea that God is our lifeline.

took (vs. 6) – Hebrew 491. gazah, to cut off, portion out: --take.

The cord was cut from our earthly mother, but the cord can never be cut to our Heavenly Father.

II. Notice The Request Of The Successful Senior Saint

Verses 8-13

A. He Asks That His Expressions Be Filled With God’s Praise

Verse 8

(Psalms 71:8) Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day. praise – laudation, hymn.

honour – ornament, beauty, majesty.

B. He Asks That His Experience Be Filled With God’s Presence

Verses 9, 12

(Psalms 71:9) Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. (Psalms 71:12) O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.

Sometimes children forsake their parents when they have grown old (just as Absalom did David), but as C.D. Frey wrote…

Jesus loves me, this I know, Though my hair is white as snow; Though my sight is growing dim, Still He bids me trust in Him.

C. He Asks That His Enemies Be Filled With God’s Punishment

Verses 10-11, 13

(Psalms 71:13) Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt.

confounded (ashamed, disappointed), consumed (to end and destroy), covered (clothed or filled) reproach (exposed in disgrace), dishonour (wounded in shame)

adversaries – Hebrew 7853. satan, a primary root word that means to attack, to accuse: --(be an) adversary, resist.

III. Notice The Resolution Of The Successful Senior Saint

Verses 14-16

A. There Is A Resolution Pertaining To His Mood

Verse 14

(Psalms 71:14) But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.

hope – this has to do with his expectant waiting. I will not be overly anxious and worry myself to death, but I will be patiently expectant.

Church Bulletin Blooper – “Don’t let worry kill you; let the church help.”

praise – this has to do with his expanding worship (praise thee more and more).

B.There Is A Resolution Pertaining To His Mouth

Verses 15, 16

(Psalms 71:15) My mouth shall show forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof.

I will give Him gratitude and glory. I know not the numbers thereof

I cannot estimate the amount of thy favors; they are innumerable. (Barnes’ Notes)

(Psalms 71:16) I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.

C. There Is A Resolution Pertaining To His Movement

Verse 16a

(Psalms 71:16) I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.

When fleshly strength fails … I will keep going in the strength of the Lord.

IV. Notice The Reflections Of The Successful Senior Saint

Verses 17-19

Some people reach a certain point in life, and all they can think about is the bad that they have encountered, or they are worrying about the bad that might happen. Somebody summarized the typical life as hurry, worry, bury. But the psalmist is not dwelling or reflecting upon the bad things, but upon the blessed things.

A. He Is Reflecting Upon The Life That Is Assisted

Verse 17

(Psalms 71:17) O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.

I have had a teacher - I have had a testimony

B. He Is Reflecting Upon The Labor That Is Ahead

Verse 18

(Psalms 71:18) Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

Tell the children and grandchildren about how God’s strength and power has been manifested in your life.

Henry W. Longfellow wrote… Shall we sit idly down and say,

The night hath come; it is no longer day? The night hath not yet come; we are not quite Cut off from labor by the failing light; Something remains for us to do or dare; Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear.

C. He Is Reflecting Upon The Lord That Is Above

Verse 19

(Psalms 71:19) Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!

He is impressive - (who hast done great things) He is incomparable who is like unto thee)

V. Notice The Rejoicing Of The Successful Senior Saint

Verses 20-24

A. The Psalmist Is Rejoicing Because The Future Is Bright

Verses 20-21

(Psalms 71:20-21) Thou, which hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. {21} Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.

Even though we come down to the end of life, the same God that has seen us through great troubles and grievous troubles will bring us out of graveyard trouble. You may be dying of a terminal illness this morning, but as a child of God, the future is bright. There is the hope of a resurrection and a hope of heaven. As one songwriter put it…

As we travel through the desert, Storms beset us by the way, But beyond the river Jordan Lies a field of endless day.

At my grave, oh, still be singing, Though you weep for one that’s gone. Sing it as we once did sing it, “It is better farther on.”

Farther on, still go farther, Count the milestones one by one, Jesus will forsake you never. “It is better farther on.”

B. The Psalmist Is Rejoicing Because The Feeling Is Bliss

Verses 22-23

(Psalms 71:22-23) 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. {23} My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.

With my music (the psaltery … the harp – vs. 22), I am rejoicing because of God’s dimensions (thy truth … thou Holy One – vs. 22 – truth & holiness)

With my mouth (my lips – vs. 23), I am rejoicing because of God’s deliverance (my soul … thou has redeemed3)

C. The Psalmist Is Rejoicing Because The Foe Is Beaten

Verse 24

(Psalms 71:24) My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt.

In verse 13, he prayed that the adversary would be confounded. In verse 24, he has the assurance that the adversary will be confounded and brought to shame, which means that the adversary is exposed for what he really is.


What we do not find in this Psalm is the Senior Saint’s Retirement (Annie Gross – It’s not time to retire. It’s time to refire.)

God never intends for us to retire from spiritual activity. The Bible says we can “still bring forth fruit in old age.” Even as Jesus kept the “best wine” for the last at the wedding in Cana (John 2:10), so He seeks to gather the most luscious clusters of the fruit of the Spirit from the fully ripened harvest of our lives. You may be sure God wouldn’t keep you on this earth if He didn’t have a worthwhile ministry for you to accomplish. So keep on serving the Lord! - Our Daily Bread

You may retire from your position, but do not retire from your passion of serving Jesus. Growing Old, Not Retiring

Growing old but not retiring,

For the battle still is on; Going on without relenting Till the final victory’s won. Ever on, nor think of resting, For the battle rages still,

And my Saviour still is with me And I seek to do His will.

Years roll by, the body weakens, But the spirit still is young; Breath of God—it never ages,

Is eternal, ever strong.

Rather, year by year it strengthens, Gaining o’er the things of sense. By Thy Spirit, lead my spirit, Saviour, till Thou call me hence.

Things of earth decrease in value, Brighter shines the light above; Less the power of human hatred, Sweeter far the Saviour’s love.

Let me tell it to the needy,

Far and wide Thy worth proclaim;

That my closing years may praise Thee— Glorify Thy blessed name.

Let me labor in Thy harvest More than ever in the past,

Reaping in what Thou hast planted, Till I dwell with Thee at last;

That before Thy throne eternal I may have some fruit to bring,

Not my work—the fruit of Calvary, All Thine own, my Lord and King.

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