Scripture reading – Psalm 86; Psalm 122

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Our Scripture reading consists of two chapters from the Book of Psalms, Psalm 86 and Psalm 122. David was the author of both, with Psalm 86 titled simply “A Prayer of David” and Psalm 122 titled “A Song of Degrees” (the “degrees” most likely a reference to the priests ascending steps into the Temple). Today’s devotional is taken from Psalm 86.


Psalm 86 – A Petition for the LORD to Hear and Answer Prayer


The circumstances that inspired Psalm 86 were not given; however, the content indicates it was at a time of trouble and affliction for the king. The prophet Nathan forewarned David that trouble would shadow his household after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, her husband. Perhaps this psalm was penned during the years of sorrow that followed his sin.

David’s Troubled State (Psalm 86:1-7)


Though he was the king of Israel, David faced afflictions and sorrows that were constant reminders of his helpless dependency on the LORD (Psalm 86:1). He called on the LORD and prayed, “hear me” (Psalm 86:1). He confessed he was “poor and needy” and realized only the LORD could save and comfort him in his distress (Psalm 86:2-3).


David’s prayer rehearsed what he knew concerning God’s nature: “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; And plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (Psalm 86:5). In light of the benevolence and mercies of the LORD, and knowing He is ever ready to forgive, David resolved: “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: For thou wilt answer me” (Psalm 86:7).


Take a moment and ponder that last statement (Psalm 86:7). What a great reason for hope! The prophet Nathan forewarned David that sorrows and afflictions would shadow his life. Yet, the king was comforted knowing when he called on the LORD, He would answer his cry.


We cannot know the troubles a day may bring; however, we can embrace David’s confidence that when we call on the LORD, He will answer! When we reach the end of our strength and have exhausted our resources, we can call on the LORD. He will hear our pleas and will answer our prayers.


The Sovereignty of God (Psalm 86:8-12)


Some men call upon “gods” (Psalm 86:8), but their idols cannot see, hear, or answer prayer (Psalm 135:15-17). Indeed, there is no God, save the God of heaven who is the Creator and is all-powerful, all-knowing, and worthy of our worship and praise (86:8-9). He is “God alone” (Psalm 86:10).


What can we do when we do not know what to do? We can follow David’s example and pray! David prayed for the LORD to guide and direct him. He promised, “11Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: Unite my heart to fear [revere; honor] thy name. 12I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: And I will glorify thy name for evermore” (Psalm 86:11-12). Longing to know the way of the LORD (John 14:6), David promised if the LORD would instruct him, he would be faithful to “walk in thy truth,” and fear and revere, and glorify Him (Psalm 86:11-12).

David’s Plight (Psalm 86:13-15)


David did not identify the circumstances that had brought him so low (86:13), nor did he name his adversaries (and there were many, including his son Absalom). He did describe the character of his enemies, for they were “proud…violent” and godless men who did not fear the LORD (Psalm 86:14). They were proud and ambitious and plotted his destruction.


Facing relentless enemies, David was encouraged when he reflected on God’s character: “15But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).


A Final Plea (Psalm 86:16-17)


David concluded his prayer by calling on the LORD to be merciful and strengthen him in his weakness (Psalm 86:16). Striking a tone of humility, the king remembered his mother and wrote, “Save the son of thine handmaid” (Psalm 86:16b). He prayed, “Shew me a token [sign] for good; That they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: Because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me” (Psalm 86:17).


The king prayed for the comfort and peace only the LORD could give. He longed for the LORD to vindicate him with His blessings and bring shame and silence his enemies.

Closing thoughts –


Believer, we live in a world that hates the LORD, His Word, Law, and Commandments. No wonder Christ cautioned His disciples, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). In fact, the leaders of His day “hated [Him] without a cause” (John 15:25).


The world is naturally hostile to those who love the LORD, and we can never look to it for acceptance. Some are waiting to gloat in our sorrows. When they cross our paths, we must remember that the LORD is merciful, kind, and omniscient. He is jealous of His name and is able and ready to come to the aid of those who call on Him (Psalm 86:17b).

Questions to ponder –

1) What was David’s attitude and state in today’s psalm? (Psalm 86:1)

2) What attributes of the LORD brought David comfort? (Psalm 86:5, 15)

3) What gave David hope? (Psalm 86:7)

4) What was David’s description of his enemies? (Psalm 86:14)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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