“In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.

From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.” (Psalm 71:1-6, NIV)

Here is another example from the Psalms which instructs us about prayer. Not only do we find directions in the Psalms regarding prayer, here is an actual prayer anyone can pray. Like the so-called “Lord’s Prayer”, these words alone are not a magic formula; they are a real prayer prayed by a real person who trusted God in his youth and hopes in his maturity to rely upon the LORD to the end.

We don’t know who the author is, but we do know the authority behind it. As Paul told Timothy about the Scriptures, so we take this Psalm as “God-breathed and …useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

We also do not know the circumstances in the life of the author that brought this prayer to mind, but whatever his circumstances were this prayer is applicable to whatever our circumstance are.

These first 6 verses also form an excellent prayer to center our hearts and minds upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.

“In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.”

Those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection will never be put to shame. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’” [Rom. 10:9-11] Hebrews 12:2 tells us that; “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

“In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.”

As the psalmist recognizes the righteousness of the LORD as his salvation, believers remember that; “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” [Rom. 3:22-26]

“Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.”

The hymn “Rock of Ages” takes part of its inspiration from the account in Exodus 17 of Moses striking a rock from which God sent water for the Children of Israel. Paul refers to that incident in I Corinthians 10:1-3; “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”

In the same chapter, Paul connects his thoughts to the celebration of Communion when he says; “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” [I Cor. 10:14-17]

Jesus Christ is our rock of refuge, smitten for us that we might be saved through faith in His atoning work. We come to Him in Communion as we remember His death until He comes again. Yet, even as the psalmist states, to Him we can always go, praying; “give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.”

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Not the labor of my hands Can fulfill Thy law's demands;

Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone;

Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, or I die!” [Augustus M. Toplady]

Jesus Christ is our one and only hope; even as the psalmist saw his Sovereign LORD; “…my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.”

The writer of Psalm 71 was apparently raised to believe in the One True God. His faith has carried him throughout his life and he states his commitment to worship and serve the LORD the rest of his life. Some can claim the same life long belief in Jesus from childhood into adulthood. Many of us came to faith later, as adults. May our hearts be recommitted to Christ every time we remember His death at communion. May our lives praise Him forever. May we always turn to Jesus, our rock and refuge throughout the ups and downs of life in this world, until He comes!

“While I draw this fleeting breath, When mine eyes shall close in death,

When I soar to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgement throne,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.