Psalm 71

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-08-19 10:16.

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Unlike the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint does have a superscription for this psalm, linking it to David and then continuing with the words, “of [the] sons of Jonadab and the first who were taken captive.” In his rendering of the Greek text, Brenton represents this as meaning that the sons of Jonadab sang this psalm and were the first to be taken captive.


The psalmist had taken refuge in YHWH (hoping in him, according to the Septuagint), looking to him for security and protection. He prayed that he would never be put to shame, as would have been the case if his supplications had remained unanswered and his enemies would have been able to gloat over his downfall.

YHWH had revealed himself to be the rewarder, protector and deliverer of his servants. In keeping with his righteousness or in his upholding what is right, he would come to their aid. This gave the psalmist the basis for praying that YHWH, in his righteousness, would deliver him, rescuing him from the perilous situation in which he found himself. He pleaded that he be heard and saved.

The expression “rock of dwelling” may be understood to mean a secure location in mountainous terrain. It was the psalmist’s desire that his God would prove to be for him like a safe location where he could always go to find refuge. Confidently, he said regarding the Almighty, “You have commanded to save me.” This may refer to God’s promise to respond to the plea of the upright, and the psalmist looked for an answer to his supplication in keeping with this promise. Indicative of his relationship to God and his reason for being confident about deliverance, he continued, “for you are my rock and my fortress.” To the psalmist, God was like a secure position on a crag and a fortress where he was assured of safety and protection. (Regarding the Septuagint rendering of verse 3, see the Notes section.)

With enemies arrayed against him, he petitioned God to rescue him from the hand or power of the wicked (“sinner,” LXX) and from the palm or grasp of the unjust (“transgressor” or the “lawless one” LXX) and ruthless (the “unjust,” LXX).

He looked to YHWH as his “hope,” his Lord upon whom he could always rely. From his youth, he had put his trust in God, looking to him for aid in times of need or distress.

Based on his earliest recollections, the psalmist apparently did not know of a time when he did not regard YHWH as his support. From birth, he leaned upon God. The psalmist attributed his existence to the Most High, speaking of his having taken him from his mother’s womb. As one who recognized his dependence on YHWH, he determined to continue praising him.

Probably on account of all the difficult situations he had faced and repeatedly having been a recipient of YHWH’s help, the psalmist referred to himself as a “sign,” “portent,” or “miracle” to many. Despite all the troubles that had befallen him, he continued to live and to maintain his trust in God, his “strong refuge” (“strong helper,” LXX).

Filled with deep appreciation for having been aided to endure distressing circumstances, the psalmist praised YHWH. His mouth was filled with praise, and all day he would make mention of God’s glory. This likely involved telling about the magnificence or splendor that YHWH’s saving acts revealed.

Having been aided from youth onward, the psalmist pleaded that God would also sustain him in old age, not casting him off nor abandoning him in his time of greatly reduced strength. In old age, he would be weak and vulnerable, unable to defend himself against the ungodly who determined to bring about his ruin.

His enemies spoke about him, discussing schemes to cause his downfall. They were watching for his “soul” or wanting to see him dead. As a group, they plotted.

Thinking that God had abandoned the psalmist, his foes believed that they would be successful in pursuing and seizing him. They imagined that no one would come to his rescue.

In this desperate situation, the psalmist pleaded that God would not be far from him, too distant to come to his aid. The threatening circumstances prompted his cry for the Most High to hasten to help him.

Those who had set themselves in opposition to the psalmist’s “soul” were bent on depriving him of his life. For them to be put to shame and to be consumed would mean that their malicious plots would fail and that they would come to their end. In expression of divine justice, they, as persons intent on doing evil or injury to the psalmist, should be covered with reproach and disgrace as if thus clothed.


The psalmist determined to continue patiently waiting on God, not losing hope about receiving aid. Evidently because of his confidence in the Most High as a deliverer and protector, he would add to God’s praise, piling up one expression of praise upon another.

From the psalmist’s mouth would proceed words about God’s righteousness or about the execution of his just judgments. So many were God’s deeds of deliverance that the psalmist did not know their number but would tell about divine salvation or deliverance “all day.” Never would thoughts about God’s saving acts be far from his mind. (For additional comments on verse 15, see the Notes section.)

The reference to the psalmist’s coming in the “powers” or mighty deeds of YHWH is obscure. Perhaps the thought is that the psalmist would be coming to the sanctuary to praise YHWH for his mighty acts. (For additional comments on verse 16, see the Notes section.) He would also make mention of God’s righteousness or justice, his alone. YHWH’s righteousness would have been revealed in his saving acts.

From his youth, the psalmist had benefited from God’s teaching. This may refer to his having come to know God’s just ways. Even though his learning started in youth, the psalmist, based on witnessing the expressions of divine justice, continued to relate God’s wondrous works.

He prayed that God would not abandon him in old age when the hair had turned gray. The psalmist desired to be alive to tell the next generation about God’s “arm” or power, evidently the mightiness revealed in saving deeds.

Apparently the psalmist also wanted to tell about YHWH’s righteousness or justice, which was without compare. It reached to the heights. In view of the great things God had done, the psalmist raised the question, “Who is like you?” The Most High is without equal.

The psalmist recognized that YHWH alone could help him in his time of need. Having experienced or been made to see many troubles and calamities, he looked to the Most High to return to him (as had happened in past times of distress) and revive or refresh him. It appears that the psalmist regarded his plight as being comparable to finding himself in the depths of the earth or in a deep pit. Therefore, he pleaded that the Most High would return, turning his attention to him, and bring him up from the depths.

Although then in dishonor, the psalmist confidently looked to YHWH to increase his greatness or dignity, turning to him and providing comfort. He would then praise YHWH with instrumental music for his faithfulness or his having proved true to his promise to aid his servants. “O Holy One of Israel,” the psalmist continued, “I will sing praises to you with the harp.”

With his lips, he would shout for joy to God. The basis for the joyous expressions of praise would be that his “soul” or he himself had been redeemed or rescued.

All day long his tongue would not cease from talking about God’s righteousness. This righteousness related to God’s coming to the aid of the psalmist, resulting in shame and disgrace to those who sought to harm him.


The Septuagint, in verse 3, does not contain a corresponding term for “rock.” It uses the expressions “protecting God” and “secure place.” The verse reads, “Be to me a protecting God, and a secure place, to save me, for you are my strength and my refuge.”

In verse 15, the Hebrew words for “righteousness” and “salvation” or “deliverance” are singular, but the word rendered “number” is plural. The Greek term in fourth-century Codex Vaticanus is the plural of pragmateía, meaning “affair” or “occupation” (not “number”). Rahlfs’ printed text of the Septuagint has the plural of grammateía, commonly defined as “learning.” The related term grámma means “letter.” To avoid the grammatical problem involving singular and plural, translators have variously rendered the Hebrew text. “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long, though their number is past my knowledge.” (NRSV) “My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds, day after day your acts of deliverance, though I cannot number them all.” (NAB) “My mouth tells of Your beneficence, of Your deliverance all day long, though I know not how to tell it.” (Tanakh) “My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.” (NIV)

To convey an understandable significance for the opening words of verse 16, translators have added words. “I will come and proclaim your mighty acts.” (NIV) “I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD.” (NRSV) “I come with praise of Your mighty acts.” (Tanakh)