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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

August 19 2023


Today, Saturday August 19

The “O LORD” Psalm


Psalm 86:1-7 A Prayer of David

Bow down Your ear, O LORD, hear me; For I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; Save Your servant who trusts in You! Be merciful to me, O Lord, For I cry to You all day long. Rejoice the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me.


Years ago in my study Bible, I wrote over the top of Psalm 86, “This is a Psalm I need to memorize”. From the inscription we learn that this is a Prayer of David. In the midst of a group of four Psalms attributed to the Sons of Korah you find this one Psalm by David, the only Davidic psalm in the entire third book of Psalms. When David wrote it, he was facing some formidable enemies whom we cannot identify (v. 14), at a time when he was "poor and needy" (v. 1) and calling for God's help.


The remarkable thing about Psalm 86 is that it is a mosaic of quotations from other parts of the Old Testament, especially Psalms 25-28, 40 and 54-57, and Exodus 34. Since David wrote these psalms, he had every right to quote from them and adapt them to his present needs. At a time of danger, when he felt inadequate to face the battle, David found three encouragements in the Lord, and so may we today.


First, in verses 1-7, David acknowledges that God's Covenant is secure. Psalm 86 has many connections with the Davidic covenant that Nathan the prophet shared with David in 2 Samuel 7. We get the impression that David had the covenant text before him and selected verses from his Psalm to parallel what the Lord had said to him, and he had said to the Lord. In 2 Samuel 7, David is called "servant" (7:5, 8, 19, 20, 25, 26, 29; 86:2, 4, 16), and both texts refer to the great things God had done (2 Sam. 7:21; Ps. 86:10).


David’s statement in verse 2, "I am holy”, meaning “I am godly or devoted", was not an egotistical statement but rather the declaration that David was a son of the covenant and belonged wholly to the Lord. It is the translation of the Hebrew word hesed (Ps. 4:3; 12:1) and is the equivalent of "saints" in the New Testament, "those set apart by and for the Lord." The word is related to hasid, which means "mercy, kindness, steadfast love" (vv. 5, 13,15). As he began his prayer, David pleaded for help on the basis of his covenant relationship with the Lord, just as believers today pray in the name of Jesus and on the basis of His covenant of grace (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; Heb. 10:14-25).


The uniqueness of the Lord is another shared theme (2 Sam. 7:22; Psalm 86:8) as well as Jehovah's supremacy over all the supposed "gods" (2 Sam. 7:23; Ps. 86:8). In both chapters, God's great name is magnified (2 Sam. 7:26; Ps. 86:9, 11, 12). In Psalm 86, David used three basic names for God: Jehovah (vv. 1, 6, 11, 17), Adonai (vv. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15), and Elohim (vv. 2, 10,12, 14). On the basis of God's covenant promises, David could "argue" with the Lord and plead his case.


In verses 1-7, the word "for" usually signals one of David's persuasive reasons why the Lord should help him. In verse 5, he changes from "for I" to "for you" (vv. 5, 7, 10), climaxing in verse 10 with "For you are great." There are at least fourteen personal requests in this Psalm, which suggests to us that effective praying is specific. David "cried or called to the Lord and the Lord answered” (vv. 3, 5, 7).


As we have already noted, there is no doubt that this psalm parallels numerous other Scriptures. The psalm either quotes from, or is quoted in Psalms 6:10; 9:1; 17:6; 22:27; 25:1,4,6,20; 26:3; 27:11; 28:2; 31:2; 40:3,17; 50:15,23; 54:3; 55:1-2; 56:13; 57:1-2; 72:18; 77:2,13; 83:18; 90:5; 116:6. The same applies to Exodus 15:11 and 34:6. This is a prayer Psalm that is saturated with other Scriptures, and it teaches us the value of bringing to God His own words in prayer. That is why I love praying the Psalms back to God for my own personal needs.


Astonishingly, too, David refers to himself no less than thirty-five times. The occurrences of the personal pronouns in the first person are all supplications. This prayer Psalm alternates between supplication and statements about God. It reveals a soul in prayer and teaches us how to speak to God. It has to do supremely with our own private devotions, to those times when all else is excluded and we are alone with God.


At least 10 times in this Psalm, David pleads “O Lord” or “O God”. This is a Psalm we might need to pray today and often in the days to come!


God bless!

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