Can you remember, when as a child, you thought that anyone who was thirty was really old, and anyone over sixty was approaching Methuselah’s age? It’s funny when you turn thirty your whole perception changes. If you are sixty plus, you, unlike those around you, cannot seem to think of yourself as being old.
The Bible has so much to say about getting old, and regardless of our perception of when that is, we would be wise to think about it. God describes the lives of many older people and how aging impacted their physical and spiritual life.
There is that decline of our physical health as we get older. Who has not heard of the failing eyesight of Isaac which allowed him to be deceived by the animal hairs his mother had placed on Jacob’s neck and hands? Later, Jacob himself died as a blind man unable to see because of his old age (Gen. 48:10). When David was seventy, the Bible described him as being “. . . old, advanced in years; and they put covers on him, but he could not get warm” (1 Kings 1:1). Read Ecclesiastes 12 to see the poetical description of loss of hearing, loss of teeth, trembling hands, fear of heights, inability to sleep and the loss of vision.
The Bible also describes the possibility of the decline of our spiritual health as we get older. I am not sure about the early life of the brother of the prodigal son, but I know that as the older brother he was beset with jealously, bitterness and a total disrespect for his father. Is there any story in the Bible more sad than the description of Solomon? “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David” (1 Kings 11:4).
On the other hand, there are those verses describing the faithfulness of older saints. Think about Moses, who at the end of his life had a spirituality unmatched in the rest of his life. Think of Caleb, who at 85 was still actively trusting in the providence of God. Then there are those inspiring words of aged Paul, who saw death on the horizon and talked of how he had fought the good fight and run the race to the finish line (2 Tim. 4:7). He saw the crown of righteousness awaiting him and all who are faithful until death.
I especially love the way God described the life of Abraham. “Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age” (Gen. 15:15)—not at an old age but a good old age. There is a difference. As you age think about this. Will you die at a good old age?