Rembrandt's 'Portrait of an old man (The Rabbi)'
Psalm 71 vv1-14
1In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed.
2In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
Incline Your ear to me and save me.
3Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come;
You have given commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress.
4Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man,
5For You are my hope;
O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.
6By You I have been sustained from my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother's womb;
My praise is continually of You.
7I have become a marvel to many,
For You are my strong refuge.
8My mouth is filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all day long.
9Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
Do not forsake me when my strength fails.
10For my enemies have spoken against me;
And those who watch for my life have consulted together,
11Saying, God has forsaken him;
Pursue and seize him, for there is no one to deliver."
12O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, hasten to my help!
13Let those who are adversaries of my soul be ashamed and consumed;
Let them be covered with reproach and dishonour, who seek to injure me.
14But as for me, I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
A young man prays an old man's prayer
When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died.
When Isaac Watts wrote that hymn he was 33. Perhaps that influenced his original version,which read "Where the young Prince of Glory died."However, he later altered it to the version of familiar to us now.
Yet in spite of Jesus being crucified as a young man,Christian tradition in Holy Week points us to Psalm 71, a prayer of an old man. Though the writer had trusted God from his youth, in his later years wicked men had planned to kill him. He therefore appealed to God, "Do not forsake me".
Does Jesus have this prayer in mind on the cross? Is his cry ,"My God,my God, why have you forsaken me?" an echo of the old man's prayer from centuries before?
Centainly much of it is appropriate. And in a later verse the psalmist expresses the conviction that God will raise him up from the depths of the earth. So the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.
Psalm 71v9; "Do not forsake me when my strength fails"