The older we get, the harder it is to hide what is really going on inside our hearts and minds. We become more and more transparent with our feelings and fears. God designed it that way so that as this clay pot, this tent we live in cracks and tears—the treasure within us should spill out. What spills out of our life when we weaken and struggle is what is really–on the inside. Paul refers to this when he explained the struggles of life that he faced as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Writing to the church at Corinth he says—
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the
power may be of God and not of us.
God wants the treasure that He is within us to spill and shine out from our lives. That of course is humanly impossible. That is why David spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit within him (II Samuel 23:2) in his final words; so we echo Paul’s words of the precious Spirit of the Living God within us. It is God’s grace and power through His Spirit that is our only source of strength to live and die this way. Even when life is rough, as rough as Paul’s explanation that follows that treasure verse.
2 Corinthians 4:8-18 On every side being in tribulation, but not straitened; perplexed, but not in despair;9 persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;10 at all times the dying of the Lord Jesus bearing about in the body, that the life also of Jesus in our body may be manifested,11 for always are we who are living delivered up to death because of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our dying flesh,12 so that, the death indeed in us doth work, and the life in you.13 And having the same spirit of the faith, according to that which hath been written, ‘I believed, therefore I did speak;’ we also do believe, therefore also do we speak;14 knowing that He who did raise up the Lord Jesus, us also through Jesus shall raise up, and shall present with you,15 for the all things are because of you, that the grace having been multiplied, because of the thanksgiving of the more, may abound to the glory of God;16 wherefore, we faint not, but if also our outward man doth decay, yet the inward is renewed day by day;17 for the momentary light matter of our tribulation, more and more exceedingly an age-during weight of glory doth work out for us—18 we not looking to the things seen, but to the
things not seen; for the things seen are temporary, but the things not seen are age-during. (Young’s Literal Translation, 1862)
This evening we remember that Jesus gave all of us something to look forward to. He told us what He would like to say to each of us when we arrive safely home to dwell with Him forever– “Well done good and faithful servant”!
Christ’s well done is what any of us would call, ending well.
As we open again to the second half of the 71st Psalm, you are opening to the words of someone who ended well. God’s prompts them to pause and look back over their life. They are old, and have lived through much–facing the weaknesses of old age, its challenges, blessings and curses. But the key to finishing life, or ending well is the long term cultivation of godly habits.
Life is a constant stream of choices. Each choice we make has a consequence. The consequences of godly habits are good, the consequences of ungodly habits are bad. Life is really that simple and David in our Psalm this morning knows that. Please stand with me as we read the last half of Psalm 71 verses 14-24.
Last time we saw the list of unending struggles that lie ahead for most of us.
- In Psalm 71:1-2 David reminds us that as we get older confusion increases.
- Another challenge of growing older David points out is in Psalm 71:3-8 where he reminds us that insecurity increases.
- David also notes in Psalm 71:9 that weakness increases as we grow older.
- Another realm David mentions in Psalm 71:10 is that he sees that trouble increases.
- Finally David notes in Psalm 71:11-13 that aloneness increases.
This morning we noted the 23-present tense requests David makes in Psalm 71:1-13, that flow from living each day aware that God is working out His plan through the struggles of life. But here in Psalm 71:14-24 David shifts his focus from his troubles of life and turns the spotlight on that other track of life.
He declares his intentions in a “from now on I will” form saying—I will trust, I will rest, I will believe in the God who has promised to care for me. God is faithful in the past, for the future and most of all in this present moment.
David’s Twelve Resolves
Tonight note in your Bible these 12-future tense resolves in Psalm 71:14-24.
1. v.14a But I will hope continually,
2. v.14b And will praise You yet more and more.
3. v.15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits.
4. v.16a I will go in the strength of the Lord God;
5. v.16b I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
6. v.17 O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works. 18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come. [Note Psalm 92:13-15]
7. v.19 Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? 0 You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
8. v.21 You shall increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.
9. v.22a Also with the lute I will praise you—And Your faithfulness, O my God!
10. v.22b To You I will sing with the harp, O Holy One of Israel.
11. v.23 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You, And my soul, which You have redeemed.
12. v.24 My tongue also shall talk of Your righteousness all the day long; For they are confounded, For they are brought to shame Who seek my hurt.
Okay, how do you get a handle on all those truths? How about by just taking them one at a time and making them action statements to grab hold of and not merely hear—but start by God’s grace to DO!
David had learned to never give up – even when alone, neglected, sick, ignored, rejected, maligned, and forgotten by everyone in the world —– EXCEPT GOD!
Psalm 71:13 Let them be confounded and consumed Who are adversaries of my life; Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor Who seek my hurt. 14 But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more.
David had learned to never stop finding ways to bring God into the conversation.
Psalm 71:15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits.
When is the last time you brought up the subject of the things of God–into a conversation? That is what genuine Spirit prompted fellowship is focused upon doing!
David had learned to humbly depend on the Lord.
Psalm 71:16 I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
What would keep us from living purposefully like David and ending well? Here are some attitudes that steal our fruitfulness and rob us of rewards:
We won’t end well unless we resist the attitude of exceptionism. This is when I think my life, my situation, my current struggles are an exception to God’s Word. Thus I can excuse myself from doing anything for Heaven because of my past, or my pain, or my poverty, or my poor self-image. The problem of exceptionism can erase Christ’s well done.
We won’t end well unless we resist the habit of assuming our own superiority. This is when we constantly think that we are more right than anyone else. God will not tolerate any habits we maintain of building up ourselves by tearing others down.
We won’t end well unless we resist the constant impulses to promote ourselves. Just as God must resist the proud, so He resists our tendency to take credit for things that were really the ideas or the work of others—and most of all were for God’s Glory and not ours!
We won’t end well unless we resist the ease with which we hold a grudge over slights that we’ve been guilty of committing ourselves.
We won’t end well unless we resist our uncanny ability to rationalize, justify, and excuse what we do and say while at the same time, and even over the same issues, being unsympathetic and judgmental with others.
We won’t end well unless we resist the all the un-mortified pockets of pride in our lives. What do pockets of pride look like? They are when I am proud of my intellect, or proud of my achievements, or proud of my giftedness, or even proud of my goodness.
Pockets of pride in my life can erase Christ’s well done. Remember Lot who was righteous yet lost it all because he thought he could stand and he fell into sin. 
David had learned to have a lifetime commitment to the Lord!
Psalm 71:17 O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.
David had learned to serve God even when he was out of season, past his prime, and old and gray–by finding young people to invest his life into.
Psalm 71:18 Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.
I know of few people that try this, but those that do never cease to find the joys that God brings when you intentionally seek out young people and try to influence them to seek and follow the Lord. Just like one of our dearest veteran missionaries here at TBC named Bill Eddy!
David had learned to never stop experiencing God daily.
Psalm 71:19 Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?
Just like Howard Smith at 96 and still learning a new verse each week as he had since the Lord got a hold of him in his late sixties!
David had learned to see affliction as a blessing.
Psalm 71:20 You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
Just like Ezra, Job, Joni Erikson Tada, Phillip Yancey, and many sweet saints suffering this morning!
David had learned to let the Lord be in charge of his life.
Psalm 71:21 You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side.
David had learned to never stop using music in his personal worship.
Psalm 71:22 Also with the lute I will praise You— And Your faithfulness, O my God! To You I will sing with the harp, O Holy One of Israel.
John Piper writes of using the simple singing of a song over and over again to deliver a demonized woman in his congregation. He also affirms:
“The Holy Spirit is our great hope against Satan. But how does the Holy Spirit fill and empower us? Ephesians 5:18-19 says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” The fullness of the Holy Spirit is experienced as a heart filled with singing. So if we fight Satan by the fullness of the Spirit, we fight him with song.
If you have read Dick Eastman’s book, The Hour That Changes the World, you may recall Mary Slessor who worked in China for many years. She used to say, “I sing the Doxology and dismiss the devil.” And Amy Carmichael said, “I believe truly that Satan cannot endure it and so slips out of the room—more or less—when there is a true song.”
David chose to stay enthusiastic for the Lord.
Psalm 71:23 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You, And my soul, which You have redeemed.
David had learned to let God invade all of his life.
Psalm 71:24 My tongue also shall talk (hagah = meditate) of Your righteousness all the day long; For they are confounded, For they are brought to shame Who seek my hurt.
So, looking forward to Christ’s well done means pointing my life at ending well. Living purposefully means that I make some choices, and in the power of God’s Spirit, form some holy habits like these.
Here are all the resolves found in both halves of Psalm 71. Think of them as saying—“I will…”
- Flee to God for hope as my troubles threaten to drown me.
2. Cry out to God for help before I give in to temptations.
3. Trust God’s Word over my fears before I get paralyzed by them.
4. Seek the Lord about my hurts before I get bitter.
5. Keep reminding myself of God’s faithfulness for all of my life to this moment.
6. Seek God’s plan for my life each day.
7. Use my mouth so often for praise, no room will be left to complain.
8. Trust in the Lord’s ability to rescue me more than EMS, the doctors, or calling 911.
9. Never give up even when all alone, forgotten by most and out of circulation for the rest of my days.
10. Never stop looking for people to share a testimony of God’s goodness in my life.
11. Humbly depend on the Lord.
12. Seek out younger people and pass on to them my testimony of God’s goodness and great faithfulness.
13. Never stop pursuing God in a deepening experience of knowing Him daily.
14. Welcome pain and suffering as God’s perfect tools for shaping my life.
15. Forsake the stereotypes the uselessness of ‘old timers’.
16. Let God invade my whole day, not just the start or finish, but all of it!
As I have often told you a pastor from the last century by the name of Thomas Obadiah Chisholm wrote two of my all time favorite hymns. The first in 1917 while unemployed and struggling to find work at age 51 he wrote out a hymn he sang as he plodded along selling things door to door to stay alive. That hymn is in our hymnbooks and is entitled “Living for Jesus”. I love those works of they man who was weak in body but mighty in spirit. But I love it even more because this hymn has a sequel. After writing these words, unemployed, sick and at the bottom when age 51–
Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do, yielding
allegiance, glad-hearted and free—this is the pathway of blessing for me.
Living for Jesus who died in my place, bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace—such
love constrains me to answer His call, follow His leading and give Him my all.
Living for Jesus thru earth’s little while, my dearest treasure the light of His smile,
seeking the lost ones He died to redeem, bringing the weary to find rest in Him.
Chorus: O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thine atonement didst give Thyself for me. I own no other Master—my heart shall be Thy throne: My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm wrote hymn # 43 six years later.
I like to say that the conclusion to Living for Jesus a life that is true is to be able to tell everyone that we meet for the rest of life, “Great is Thy Faithfulness O God my Father”! Would you join me by turning to #372 and reading the refrain and then singing #43 as a start for each of us.
 This poem then later appeared in the Christmas edition of “Beacon House News,” a magazine of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Association by Phyllis McCormack.
 Osbeck, Kenneth W., Amazing Grace—366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications) 1997.
 Adapted from Jan David Hettinga, Follow Me: Experience The Loving Leadership of Jesus, (Colorado Springs, Co: NavPress, 1996, Pages 191-192.