From Psalms 86-89
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me. (Ps 86.1-7)
David begins humbling himself before the LORD. He is poor and needy. He believes he is in danger and asks the LORD to keep him alive. This seems to be the context of the prayer. David is in danger. David hopes the LORD will preserve him because he is godly and trusts in Him. His trust includes the notion that YHWH is his God. He cries out for grace and mercy. Like some Psalms we have already looked at, the presence of danger and distress can be construed as a sign of the LORD’s disfavour. David refers to the LORD’s character. He is good, forgiving and loves his covenant people.
8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. (Ps 86.8-13)
David refers to the existence of other gods. Even among them the LORD is unique. David eventually denies the existence of other gods. He alone is God. His works have brought about the salvation of Israel in the past (Exodus) and are a source of boasting for his people. So great is the LORD that all nations will worship and glorify him.
David asks for the LORD to teach him. The godly who trust in the LORD still need to be taught by the LORD. As a result they walk in the His truth. Truth in part reflects a lifestyle of God’s people who have been taught by the LORD.
David asks that the LORD unite his heart. Suggesting hearts may be divided. One part true to the LORD, the other walking away. If the LORD unites his heart David will fear his name, give thanks and glorify him. David reflects again on the LORD’s ongoing covenant love. The love and care he shows him people especially in saving them from death.
14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me. (Ps 86.14-17)
David refers again to his current situation. Insolent and ruthless men have risen up against him. They want to kill him. They do not care for the LORD. David cries out to the LORD for deliverance from them. The LORD is gracious and merciful in many ways, not least when he forgives our sin. But here the LORD is gracious and merciful when he delivers his people from danger. David cries out for strength and salvation. He asks for a sign others awareness that the LORD favours him, has helped him and assured him.
The Psalm mentions many aspects of prayer which are commendable. Prayer acknowledges we are dependent upon God (Ps 86.1). Prayer is an expression of trust in the LORD (Ps 86.2). God listens to and answers our prayers because he is gracious (Ps 86.3,5). In prayer we can request the LORD’s forgiveness (Ps 86.4). We pray to God alone because he is unique, there is none like him (Ps 86.8). Prayer is a form of worship (Ps 86.9), especially when we give thanks to him. In prayer its a good idea to ask the LORD to teach us his ways (Ps 86..11). Answered prayer is a powerful sign to non believers (Ps 86.17).
Story of Jesus
Jesus gave some instructions to his followers on how they should pray. He speaks to individuals and their motives in prayer.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: (Mt 6.5-9a)
Another item of interest is that while he encourages individuals to pray this way, the prayer itself is mindful of the people around them.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. (Mt 6:9b–13)
The prayer that Jesus taught demonstrates many of the aspects we have been looking at in Psalm 86.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.