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Read Psalm 86

A prayer of David.

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.

Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 

have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.

Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.

Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.

When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with yours.

All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.

10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.

12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.

13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    they have no regard for you.

15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
    show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
    just as my mother did.

17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
    that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
    for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Go Deeper

When an attorney is making an argument for a client, he cannot simply argue what he thinks is correct or what he thinks the judge should do. The attorney has to give reasons why the judge should rule a certain way, providing both facts and law to support the conclusion that the attorney advocates. This method is called “grounding” the argument, or basing the request in supporting evidence.

David takes a similar approach in Psalm 86 when he asks God to hear his prayer and then grounds his request in certain facts that he knows to be true: David is poor and needy (v. 1), he is devoted to God and trusts Him (v. 2), he is dependent on God (v. 3), and he has confidence that God will answer him (v. 7).

David has this confidence because he knows and understands who God is. The other gods of the time (Baal, Ashtoreth Dagon) were vengeful and cunning. But in verse 10, David states, “You alone are God.” Notice that David doesn’t just acknowledge that God is better than those gods, but rather that He alone is God. David knows his God is different and that he needs Him. This belief is proven, because it is grounded in the evidence of God’s character: He is good, ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy (v. 5).

By knowing and understanding who God is, not only does David know that he needs God, he also wants to learn from Him. In verse 11, David no longer cries out for help. Rather, his desperation makes him recognize his greatest need – to understand God’s ways and walk in His truth. We don’t know exactly when David wrote this prayer, and we don’t know exactly who or what he feared at the time. But, this lack of knowledge is fortuitous in that it allows us to see our needs in David’s needs.

As one commentator explained, “Most of us, when we pray, are concerned about deliverance and help and guidance and such things. But we are not nearly as concerned to be taught God’s way and to be helped to serve Him with an undivided heart.” If we have hearts that are divided and serving different gods, we can never truly walk in God’s way. If our heart serves the gods of pride, apathy, passivity, false humility, busyness, children, security, prosperity, appearances, or control, we can never honestly say, “You alone are God. Teach me your ways and help me walk in Your truth.” Let our prayer today be that we recognize our need for God and God alone.

Questions

  1. What gods are dividing your heart and keeping you from only serving the one true God?
  2. Reach out to a friend and confess what is dividing your heart and preventing you from complete devotion to God.
  3. Read the list below and spend time meditating on the character of the God you serve, thanking Him for His faithfulness and goodness.

By The Way

Trusting God alone starts with knowing who God is and being able to ground your beliefs in evidence of His character. Meditate today on these truths about the God we serve:

  • God is love. (I John 4:8)
  • He is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)
    He is the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:13)
  • He is faithful and His work is perfect. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  • He is the Creator of all things. (Colossians 1:16)
  • He is trustworthy. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  • He is King. (I Timothy 1:17)
  • He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. (Exodus 34:6-7)
  • He does not change. (Malachi 3:6)
  • There is none like Him. (Isaiah 46:9)

Praise the Lord, for He is good and His steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1).

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4 thoughts on “Psalm 86”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    “Give me an undivided heart to fear Your name.” (V11) Some days it feels like my life can be scattered into a thousand different directions; some thing is always vying for my heart & affections. It’s apparent in my job as we wrap up a challenging school year and administer STAAR tests. However, when I submit to Him, he somehow ties up all the loose ends, clears my vision and motivates me to trust his hand through the chaos. Peace becomes my companion as my heart is devoted to Him. The lyrics by William Murphy are my prayer today:
    “Give me one pure and holy passion. Give me one magnificent obsession. Jesus, give me one glorious ambition for my life: To know and follow hard after you.”

  2. Sandy Jenkins

    Thank you Ella and many others for your passion/dedication to bring such a difficult school year almost to an end. We appreciate you!

  3. Verse 2 stood out to me this morning. I have been a faithful follower of Christ since a child. My trust in God has continued to be strengthened through the years. However, I know I’m vulnerable. David’s prayer was to “Guard my life.” I need to continue to ask God to guard and protect me from myself. I can look back and remember how close I came to making decisions that would have taken me down the wrong road. I know too well the times I’ve failed. So I pray, “Guard my life.”

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