As I have been continuing to read through the Bible chronologically this year, I have arrived at a point where my reading is divided a lot between 2 Samuel, I Chronicles and Psalms. I think I have mentioned before that the Psalms are not my favorite part of Scripture. They are loaded with valuable instruction and insight for sure, but I find the style of writing challenging. That said, it is interesting to read some of David’s psalms while also reading about the events going on in his life. For me, the events of his life give the Psalms context and help me connect with them more.
Psalm 86 is one of the Psalms that I have read through recently. And it ranks up there among my favorites. David is appealing to God to hear his prayer and guard his life, while in Samuel and Chronicles, I am reading about a coup to kill/overthrow him. But David’s appeal to God isn’t how I would naturally go about that were it me.
At the outset, David acknowledges that he is dependent on God as indicated by “poor and needy” and as he identifies himself as God’s servant. David then affirms his commitment to God and his trust in him as his master and God.
Interestingly, next David asks God to lift his spirit or “bring [him] joy”. And David is confident in that request because God is “forgiving”, “good”, “abounding in love”, and faithful to answer. In other words, David makes his appeal based on his confidence in God’s character.
Somewhat surprisingly, David then turns to praising God even though God hasn’t responded yet. David notes that there is no one like God in heaven, on earth, or who can do deeds like him. And therefore, David acknowledges that “you alone are God.”
In response to this review of who God is, David petitions God to teach him and purify his heart. And he turns to praise God once more because God has saved him from sin and death.
And finally, in verse 14 David turns back to the challenge at hand: his life is in danger from those who have no regard for God. Thus, David’s plea is that God in his mercy would demonstrate himself by saving David.
This Psalm is a good reminder to me of how I should come to God with my problems. I want to go straight to the issue.
It is important that I keep in perspective my position. I am poor and needy. I don’t have any merit in and of myself other than pledging my commitment to, and placing my trust in God.
Despite my circumstances I should look to keep my spirits up. On account of who he is, I have reason for high spirits. And beyond that, I should keep my spirits up for the sake of my testimony to the world around me of who God is. Regardless of our challenges, God loves us, he is faithful and good, and he forgives us. That is so amazing and encouraging!
Then, even before he answers my prayers, I should stop to praise him because of who he is. I should ask him to continue to work in me to teach me and purify me. And I need to remember, regardless of my challenges here, I can celebrate him because I know he has saved me from sin and death.
At that point, and hopefully with then with the right perspective and attitude, I can come back to my issue at hand and ask that God, simply in and of his mercy, would undertake for me.
Whether right now in the challenges with COVID-19, or maybe around the corner with threats of another sort, I hope that Psalm 86 might help you as you go to God with your concerns as it has helped me.