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Psalms 71 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Though this Psalm, like Psalms 86, is little more than a mosaic of fragments and reminiscences of other Psalms, especially 22, 31, 35, 40, it possesses a singular beauty and tenderness of its own. It is the utterance of a faith which has proved the goodness of God in a life of many trials, and trusts to experience it to the end. It is fitly chosen for use in the Order for the Visitation of the Sick.

Some commentators regard it as a ‘national’ Psalm, taking the plural ‘us’ in Psa 71:20 (R.V.) as the key to its interpretation, and supposing the speaker to be not an individual, but suffering Israel. The language of Psa 71:5-6 ; Psa 71:9 ; Psa 71:17, is not a fatal objection to this theory; for many passages speak of the birth and youth and old age of Israel (Psa 129:1; Hos 7:9; Hos 11:1; Jer 2:2; Isa 46:3-4). But the transition from the singular to the plural in Psa 71:20 is no proof that the Psalm as a whole is the utterance of the nation. It was most natural that the Psalmist should pass from the thought of his own needs to the thought of the needs of the nation, in whose calamity he was involved. Doubtless the language of the Psalm is such as could be adopted by others, or even by the godly nucleus of Israel as a whole; but it bears in the main the stamp of a personal and individual meditation.

As to authorship and date, all that can be said is that apparently the Psalmist was an old man ( Psa 71:9 ; Psa 71:18), and that Israel was in exile ( Psa 71:20). The latter part of the LXX title, ‘[A Psalm] of the sons of Jonadab and those who were first carried captive,’ may preserve an authentic tradition of its use in the exile. It has been attributed to Jeremiah on the grounds (1) that the free use of earlier Psalms is entirely in his style; (2) that Psa 71:5-6 refer to his call (Jer 1:5) and Psa 71:21 to the dignity of his office, and that the general situation of the Psalmist corresponds to that of the persecuted prophet; (3) that his authorship would account for the use of this Psalm by the Rechabites, with whom he had been brought into such close connexion (Jeremiah 35). If it was composed by Jeremiah, it must have been in the latest period of his life, when he had been carried down into Egypt after the Fall of Jerusalem; when the stress and strain of his life was over, and yet he was by no means free from hostility and danger (Jeremiah 44). But the grounds for attributing it to him are quite inconclusive.

One thought grows out of another, and there is no marked division into stanzas: but in the first half of the Psalm (Psa 71:1-13) prayer, in the second half (Psa 71:14-24) praise, predominates.

Consult other comments:

Psalms 71:0 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Psalms 71:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Psalms 71:0 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Psalms 71:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Psalms 71:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Psalms 71:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalms 71:0 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Psalms 71:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Psalms 71:0 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges