Psalms – Chapter 71

Let's Get Right To It!

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

This Psalm continues the theme of the previous one and, as such, it does not begin with an introductory note.

David says that he sought shelter from his pursuers in G-d, and he hopes that G-d will not let his enemies put him to shame. (This verse could be interpreted “let me not ever be shamed,” or “let me not be shamed forever.” According to the latter understanding, David has already been shamed and he’s hoping for it to end.) David asks G-d to hear his prayers and to save him. G-d is his immovable rock of protection, to Whom he can always turn and Who always decrees David’s salvation. David prays to be saved from the hand of Avshalom, his son who has turned on him, and the treacherous Achitofel. G-d is David’s only hope, as He has been since David was a child.

David says that he has relied on G-d since his birth, when G-d delivered him safely. Even when David was down and out, derided by the masses, he found refuge in G-d. David has always attempted to fill his mouth with praise of G-d at all times. Just as he found salvation from G-d in his youth, David hopes that he will continue to do so now that he is older and has weakened. (David was 65 during Avshalom’s coup.) His enemies think that G-d has left him, so he wants to prove them wrong.

David asks G-d to speedily come to his aid so that his enemies will see and be shamed – and then be destroyed. His antagonists should suffer the humiliation they hoped to inflict upon him, while David will continue to praise G-d. He must do so continuously because G-d’s praises are infinite and there’s simply no way he could ever hope to finish! When he fights his enemies, David relies on G-d’s might, rather than on human strength. Only G-d’s praise is worth recounting.

David learned to trust in G-d as a small child and he still praises G-d’s wonders now, decades later, with the same awe and enthusiasm as he did then. He prays that G-d reciprocate by providing David with the same level of protection as in earlier years. When people see the older David still triumphs, even though his physical strength is on the decline, it will be evident that it is because of G-d and people will recount this as a praise of Him. G-d is in the highest Heavens; there is no one like Him. Despite all David has endured, G-d always pulls him through. When David is saved from the current trouble (that of Avshalom’s rebellion), he will be elevated by G-d even higher than he was before. In exchange, David will play his harp and sing Psalms of G-d’s greatness. He will rejoice in G-d’s salvation and His righteousness, while those who sought David’s destruction will be degraded.

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