Why would anyone want to memorize Psalm 71?
It’s not one of the better-known Psalms. It’s a tad enemy-heavy. A lot of trouble is mentioned. It’s hard to know exactly what it means. It even contains a word I don’t know (portent* in Psalm 71:7).
And it mentions gray hair.
But maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s worth memorizing because it’s so real. It’s authentic and vulnerable and expansive. It leaves room for me to squeeze in and make it my own.
We don’t like to beg. It seems so, well, needy. But David acknowledges here he needs God’s help. I need his help, too. I know that. Might as well say it.
It acknowledges trouble
Men are chasing David, his strength is spent, accusers are watching him. While I don’t have his kind of enemies—“wicked, unjust, and cruel men” surrounding me—I do have my own set: a materialistic culture, my bad attitudes, selfish motives, an aging body, on and on, trying to steal God’s joy from my soul. I want to counter my enemies like David does his.
It praises God
It puts into words things I need to say to God, too. Praise for his righteous acts. His deeds of salvation. His faithfulness. And as I memorize these, I can personalize them in my mind, praising him for specifics acts I’ve seen him do in my own life.
Continuously. The Lord knows I need constant boosts to keep hoping. I hear that in words here. And I want to say these to myself over and over.
And it calls for the creation of more beauty. With instruments. With singing lips. With shouts of joy. I look forward to getting a little creative myself, finding ways to outwardly express my love to and about the Lord through this psalm.
There’s more. But that’s enough to get me started.
This psalm shows me a real person in a crazy world who is finding peace in the presence of God. It not only applies to the writer who lived several thousand years ago, but also to me in 2013.
Why would I want to memorize this Psalm?
Maybe the better question is: why wouldn’t I?
Gray hairs and all.
* * *
Almost two hundred men and women will begin memorizing Psalm 71 on Sunday, January 13. Join us if you’d like! We’ll go slow but steady.
* In case you’re wondering, too, “portent” in Hebrew means: a token or omen; a wonder, a sign. It’s something extraordinary, pointing to a truth beyond itself.