Summary: There is no retirement from service to God, but there are seasons of life that affect what kind of service we do.
Thoughts about the passage:
Dr. Charles H. Hennekens of Harvard Medical School says that retirement may increase a man’s risk of dying of heart attack. His statement - “We found an 80 percent higher rate of death from coronary disease among those in a study who had retired compared with those who had not.”
A question we might ask; Why were the Levites supposed to retire at age 50 (vv. 25,26)? The reasons were probably more practical than theological:
1. Moving the tabernacle and its furniture through the wilderness required strength. The younger men were more suited for the work of lifting the heavy articles.
2. They were allowed to assist with various light duties. This helped the younger, men assume more responsibilities and it allowed the older men to be in a position to advise and counsel them.
The listing of the age limits for service as a Levite seems to teach a truth that active service for God demands the utmost and the best in strength and wisdom. The age span was given as twenty-five to fifty years. The twenty-fifth to the thirtieth year period probably was a term of internship or probation. Before beginning the formal years of service the Levites underwent many years of training, and after completing active duty, a term of lighter service was maintained. The service of God, whether in the training, probationary, active or semiretired stage was vital for the success of God people on their journey.
I don’t believe that there is any place in scripture that suggests that we should retire from doing the Lord’s work. However, there are definitely different seasons of life and we should prepare for the different changes that take place in this process. For us to quit altogether is bad but to hang on to something that we are no longer able to do is also not good. Lord help me to be active for you as long as my health will permit but also not try to do something I am no longer capable of doing.