WORD STUDY – NOW I AM OLD – DAY 7 (RETURN FROM SILENCE)ח
Psalms 37:25: “I have been young and am now old, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken.”
It’s over for another year. My week of silence has ended and I have returned from the Northwoods bearded and smelling like a wet dog. For whatever reason my mind has been on Psalms 37:25. “I have been young and now am now old.” I guess the days of the old camp director is in the past. Grizzly Adams is now 66 years old and somehow the hiking and morning chill is not as inviting as it was in those early days. I believe, God willing, I will spend my yearly week in Silence at the Monastery from now on.
Yet, living among the wilds, so to speak, I was greatly impressed as I have never been before of how everything in nature is so well balanced. Everyone of God’s creation is so beautiful and perfect in design. There were no overweight deer, no bald headed birds, nor could I tell the difference between a young fully grown animal and an old fully grown animal. Then I return to civilization and I see people much like myself with their physical flaws and ravishes of age showing.
Well, that is the cycle, we are young and grow old, we are on this earth for such a short period of time. The philosophers have argued through the ages just what the purpose of life is. During my time of Silence this week I have learned the purpose of life, at least in such a way as to satisfy myself. It is to mimic nature and that is to perform the task that God created us to perform. Each blade of grass, every tree and it leaves performs a task. The green grass and trees exist to remove the carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with oxygen. Each animal has a task to perform, the squirrels to gather food for winter (and to pause long enough to preach to this dusty old professor), the birds to sing their praise to God and show off God’s beauty with their wonderful colors.
We get used to color with all our synthetic colors today but in ancient times things were mostly black and white if not for the creation of God and its creatures. He even created man to be different colors to show off His beauty but we just used that to create a distinction rather than appreciate the beauty.
Everything is in proper order and according to a plan because God is an orderly God who follows a plan and when we follow his plan, David says we will never be forsaken. I truly can say like David that I was once young and now I am old and in all that time I have never seen the righteous forsaken. Note it is the righteous. The word righteous in Hebrew is tsadiq which means lawful in conduct and character. For the Jewish people God’s laws are very complex because he wanted them to show their distinction. Peter however, declared that we Gentiles were only bound to the moral laws which are embodied in the ten commandments. However, by simple common sense and scientific research we just naturally follow many of God’s dietary and hygienic laws.
David was really referring to the laws of Torah in this verse which provided for the poor and destitute. His greatest priority in the kingdom was that his people follow God’s laws. As a result no one ever went hungry, no one who was unable to work due to disability or sickness was in want or need. The laws of God strictly laid out that such people were to be cared for by those blessed with good health and strength. Other nations had beggars on the streets or just allowed the poor and disabled to die in their misery totally forsake. However, God’s laws provided that no one should go hungry, every life was created by God and all men are created equal. Sounds familiar? That is not in the Bible but is implied and spelled out in our constitution.
I believe the reason our nation remains as prosperous as it does is because we follow God’s laws and we do our best to help the poor with our assistance programs, the elderly with medicare and social security and the host of other programs to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. We respect every life, no matter how deformed, disabled a person is our laws give them dignity We do care for our own.
Oddly, if we are grammatically correct in our rendering of this passage it would read “I have been young and I have been old.” I mean if he has already been young and already old what comes after old? Yet the word old zaken is in a Qal perfect form. The word young na’ar means a youth. I believe this grammatical anomaly is to show a play on words. The word zaken or old could also could mean a roar or to be driven out. David may be making a play on words here referring to his time as a youth when he was driven into exile by King Saul who wanted to take his life. God did not forsake him at that time nor now when he was zaken or mature in his walk with God. The Zayin represents an involvement with God, the Qof – sanctification by the Resh – the Holy Spirit. The Zayin = 7 which is the number of God, Qof = 100 which is the number of fullness and the Nun = 50 which is the number for faith and the Holy spirit. Old in the Hebrew represents a fullness in God and the Holy Spirit and my own gentile twist – faith in Jesus Christ.
David is saying here that God did not forsake him as a brash immature youth anymore than when he was an older mature believer, older in the sense that he has matured in his faith. If God did not forsake him when he was young in his faith, then it is even more certain God will not forsake him now that he is mature in his mature faith.
What did I gain from my time of Silence in the Northwoods? One that I have grown old but two that I can now rejoice for I have now had over half a century of walking with God and a half century of growing in my faith and if God has not forsaken me in my youth when I was young and brash in my faith, how much more now that I am old a mature in my faith. How much closer I am to God now than when I was young and before long I will reach the ultimate in closeness to God.