THE OLD MAN'S PSALM
IN LONELY PLACES
" In lonely places, Thou art crowds to me."
SOME one of old placed this inscription on a tomb in the Roman Catacombs.
The intention of the writer was to honour the memory of an earthly friend. May I use it in a higher application, and bring it to my reader who, advanced in life, and sometimes feeling a little distressed as he sees the tide of human affairs flowing past and leaving him with less and less to do, and with an ever-decreasing band of friends and companions, needs more and more to be satisfied with God ?
"In lonely places, Thou," O Lord my God, "art crowds to me." Taking the place of many who have cheered me and are gone into the silent land, filling me with peace and comfort such as even those once nearest and dearest could scarcely give, rendering impossible all sense of desolation, all the sharp pain of feeling myself forgotten : " In lonely places," in the lonely places of old age,
Thou art crowds to me."
In the seventy-first Psalm, which I have ventured to call "The Old Man's Psalm," the unknown writer clearly enough shows that he felt himself in lonely places. But he would not permit himself morbidly to make the most of his loneliness. He does but glance at it, and then carries his eye to the face of Him Who was with him in solitude, and strengthened him in weakness, and comforted him in depression, and filled him with hope.
There is nothing here of a fond dwelling on the melancholy subject of increasing infirmities. There is no magnifying of the evils or the trials of age. It is a healthy Psalm, and brings an inspired call to those who are approaching, or who have entered old age, to do it in a hale and bright spirit. It is so dishonouring to God, it is so depressing to others, so bad for their faith, that aged people should be morbid and sad, that this nameless old man who penned the seventy-first Psalm sets himself to " make the best of it," and, glancing at many of the trials of age, succeeds in turning them all into blessings, and ends the Psalm with praise.
To help the reader to the same healthy mind, these notes on the Psalm are set down. They will not follow the Psalmist's words in exact order nor in close detail, but will take various sections of the Psalm as suggestive of helpful thoughts ; and will seek to bring light from various quarters to brighten the days when, eyesight growing more dim and hope less buoyant, every word of cheer may be of value.