“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,” Psalm 37:25.
Yesterday morning, just before we walked down to the morning meeting, my wife and I shared a few words regarding the above text. We were conscious of our advancing years and the toll of a recent bout of Covid, but were comforting ourselves in these words of David.
It is a theme which David often pondered.
“For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off,” Psalm 37:28.
“Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth,” Psalm 71:9.
“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come,” Psalm 71:18.
“For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance,” Psalm 94:14.
There are many things which desert you as you grow older: strength, mobility, eyesight and hearing fails, as does our memory, all of which betoken the decline of our mortal frame! We find that the aged are often forgotten and forsaken by their families for it is easier to live with an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mindset than it is to take on the burdens of caring for the enfeebled, with all that such care demands regarding time and effort. In these days of ‘state welfare facilities’ such an attitude appears to be very common.
How thankful Ann and I are for the care we receive from those members of our family who live in Ulster, especially those who live ‘round the road’ here in Kilskeery as well as those who live further away and can only assist us by their prayers.
Added to this, we have had kindness shown to us by many old friends and neighbours. Ann and I will never forget the parcel of foodstuffs put together by folk in the Trillick/Kilskeery area and distributed to the elderly around the two villages during the peak of the Covid epidemic. Our parcel was delivered to our door by a young Roman Catholic neighbour !
Comforting as is the attention of loved ones and friends, it is the care and attention that the Lord gives us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that really is to be rejoiced in. Indeed, it is the Lord who moves others to show kindness, even as the Lord moved the Egyptian jailer to favour Joseph!
Families and friends, no matter how much they may love us, can care for us only in a measure. They must ‘forsake’ us at times but the Lord NEVER does.
Please consider from these words:
I. OLD AGE DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE CEASE TO PONDER GOD’S WAYS AND WORD!
No matter what former activities and pursuits we have to lay aside in our old age, we can still read and study our Bibles.
My paternal grandmother, Mary Jane Foster, went to be with the Lord in her home in Ballymackilroy, Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh, on 22nd April 1940, just some 82 years ago. Ballymackilroy was just half a mile up the road from where I was born in the next townland, Keenaghy. My Aunt Maggie came running down to where my Dad was building the house in which I would be born some three years and 8 months later. She was alarmed because she could not get any response from her mother as she sat in her old chair by the fireside.
Granny had just walked from Lisnaskea, some 2 1/2 miles away and had called to mention to my mother that she had heard in town of a child not too far from us, who had just died from the ‘whooping cough’ and, knowing that my two older sisters were just recovering from it, urged my mother to take every precaution.
She then walked on to her own house. It was shortly after that Aunt Maggie came running down to my father. He immediately hastened up to his old home and found his mother sitting in her chair, with her open Bible clasped in her hands on her knee. She had just gone to heaven! She was only 65.
She had spent her last moments on earth pondering the words and the ways of her God and Saviour. That event prompts me to pray, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” Numbers 23:10.
Dear Christian, spend time in your old age reading God’s Word, no matter how small a portion you find yourself able to read. Just one verse from the Holy Scriptures can convey to our hearts a veritable ocean of joy and comfort!
In our text what consolation David found in that one truth which his experiences had demonstrated to him again and again! ‘I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread!’
II. I BELIEVE THAT WHATEVER MEMORIES OF PAST EXPERIENCES AND ACQUAINTANCES MAY SLIP AWAY AND ARE NOW UNREACHABLE, WE WILL NOT UTTERLY FORGET ALL WE HAVE READ IN THE BIBLE.
Much of what we experience in life is of no substance, mere chaff unworthy of being retained in our memories! Our observations and surmisings, born of our very limited knowledge and understanding, may rightly be termed: “Vanity and vexation of spirit,” Ecclesiastes 1:14.
On the other hand, what we have learned from the Bible shall abide, even within our failing memories. The Bible is that incorruptible seed, “which liveth and abideth for ever,” 1 Peter 1:23. The Holy Spirit is charged with bringing it before our hearts and minds. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come,” John 16:13.
What the Saviour said to the disciples in this same chapter, before He ascended to heaven, has application to us in our old age and our failing memories. “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them,” John 16:4.
Such a promise may be claimed by the aged that we may enjoy the comforts of the administrations of the Holy Spirit in our final years.
III. A MERE MORSEL OF A SACRED MEMORY, GIVEN US OF GOD, WILL MINISTER GREAT COMFORT TO US.
That which comforted David and which he quotes in our text is: “Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” All the years from his youth until his old age did not have within them one instance of the Lord forsaking the righteous. Indeed, His faithfulness to the righteous extended to his offspring for David said he had never seen them “begging bread.”
There is a double comfort. Not only is our wellbeing catered for but our offspring as well. It is a frequent and constant concern, especially in these increasingly evil and godless days, ‘how our children will do?’
I can recall the anxiety expressed by my mother whenever she heard of the expected arrival of another grandchild. She saw all around the apostasy foretold in the Bible and trembled for her offspring in the midst of it.
Looking back now over those fifty odd intervening years, I can see how the Lord undertook for our family in the midst of IRA terrorism and ecclesiastical treachery and rebellion.
The ‘times’ may grow worse, indeed they will, BUT the Lord remains the same. He Who caused the ravens to supply Elijah with bread and meat morning and evening has NOT changed in the least.
We will not have to beg and depend upon the very fickle charity of this world. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:19.
Inflation has not devalued the ‘riches in glory’ and Christ Jesus is still the channel by which we shall be fed of the same.
What the Lord said to Abraham is recorded for “our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope,” Romans 15:4. Here is what the Lord said to Abraham and which He would have us also embrace. “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” Genesis 15:1.
Let God’s word be our ‘staff’ in our old age.
Sincerely in Christ’s name,
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
2nd may 2022.