There’s a subscript in the Hebrew Psalter that’s not translated in the English versions. According to James Boice Montgomery, it says, “This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.” I think he’s right for several reasons. First, Psalm 72 is the first Psalm attributed to David’s son, Solomon. It is a prayer for God to guide him as he leads God’s people. Secondly, the Psalm is written by an old man. Verse 9 says, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” Verse 18 adds, “Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me.”

One of the most obvious subjects of this Psalm is the problems of old age. David doesn’t hear too well anymore. He doesn’t remember as well as he once did. He can’t walk as far as he did. He has lost his strength. It’s just not too much fun growing old. On June 28, 1789, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, wrote in his journal, “… This day I enter on my eighty-sixth year. I now find I grow old: 1) My sight is decayed, so that I cannot read a small print, unless in a strong light; 2) My strength is decayed, so that I walk much slower than I did some years since; 3) My memory of names, whether of persons or places, is decayed, till I stop a little to recollect them. What I should be afraid of is, if I took thought for the morrow, that my body should weigh down my mind and create either stubbornness, by the decrease of my understanding, or peevishness, by the increase of bodily infirmities. But thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God.”

His brother Charles wrote a hymn. I wonder if it reflected John’s later years and his struggle at the end. It says:

In age and feebleness extreme,
Who shall a sinful worm redeem?
Jesus, my only hope thou art,
Strength of my failing flesh and heart;
Oh, could I catch a smile from thee,
And drop into eternity!

“The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the Lord hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people.” (Psalm 69:32-33)