One of my favourite psalms is Psalm 92. It only became a favourite psalm after I turned 60, for it is a psalm for old people. I define old age as after 60 for that is when I get my senior concession card for travel on the bus and MRT!
The phrase “old age” appears in that psalm and in the context of still bearing fruit for verse 14 says
“(the righteous) will still bear fruit in old age,
they will still stay fresh and green.”
The psalm does not say that the old will stay young (which is why I do not dye my hair!) but that the old will stay fresh and green. It is an inner, not outer youthfulness that matters, though it is the young that can bear fruit. However the good news or gospel is that the old can also bear fruit. Isaiah 40: 31 says
“those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint”.
The young are strong because they are born just two or three decades earlier. The old can be strong though they are born several decades earlier, if their strength is renewed. It is not new strength but renewed strength that bears fruit. In other words, the old must have the capacity for renewal and this is a gift from God. Through hoping in the Lord, the strength of the old can be renewed.
As in the words of Psalm 92:13, the old obtain renewal by being
“planted in the house of the Lord”.
for then they can “flourish in the courts of our God” (verse 11).
Many years ago when I was in full time Bible Society ministry, I discovered that there was an organization called 92:14. I was mystified until I was told that it referred to Psalm 92:14 which say that “(the righteous) will bear fruit in old age”. This organization was in Bethesda Frankel Estate Church and was made up of the sixtogenarians (in their sixties), septuagenarians (in their 70s) and octogenarians (in their 80s). In other words, they kept going when they were old: their secret was not in rejuvenating pills and ointments but by being active in the courts of our God in which they were planted.
The best place to grow old is not in a retirement home but in God’s house, among God’s people and living by God’s word. This is the secret of renewed strength in old age. This secret does not require money: it is open to all, even the young (many young people want to be even younger) and the evidence of fruit-bearing proves that God’s wisdom works.
What kind of fruit do the old bear? The best fruit is that which takes time to grow. Quick-growing fruits do not satisfy: it is the wine that is aged for many years that is most delicious, not the wine freshly made from grapes. The fruit is best that has space to grow, and in old age, one makes space and time for God to bear fruit. All the triviality and frivolity which the young crave after is discarded in old age.
Proverbs 16:31 says that “grey hair is a crown of splendor: it is attained by a righteous life”. Much of the ninefold fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is attained in old age: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Let us stedfastly claim that the best is yet to be, no matter how old we are! (the motto of a school I did not attend)
Elder Lee Soo Ann