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03-19-06 Psalm 86

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Psalm 86:1-12

1 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me;

For I am afflicted and needy.

2 Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;

O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.

3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,

For to You I cry all day long.

4 Make glad the soul of Your servant,

For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,

And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;

And give heed to the voice of my supplications!

7 In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,

For You will answer me.

8 There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,

Nor are there any works like Yours.

9 All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,

And they shall glorify Your name.

10 For You are great and do wondrous deeds;

You alone are God.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;

I will walk in Your truth;

Unite my heart to fear Your name.

12 I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,

And will glorify Your name forever.



A.     Prayer for protection (86:1-5)

86:1-5. In his prayer David earnestly requested that God hear . . . answer. . . . guard. . . . save. . . . have mercy on, and bring joy to him because of his poor and needy condition (see comments on 37:14). Essentially in these requests he desired that God preserve him (cf. 25:20) by His mercy. David called himself a servant who trusts in the Lord, one who lifts up his soul to God (cf. 25:1).

This prayer was based on the fact that God is kind, ready to forgive, and abounding in love (cf. 86:15; Ex. 34:6).

B.     Praise for power (86:6-13)

86:6-10. David repeated his call for the Lord to hear him. His confidence that in his trouble God would answer him was strengthened by his knowledge that the Lord is incomparable (there is none like You; cf. Ex. 15:11), fully able to do what he asked (no deeds can compare with Yours). People from all . . . nations will serve Him, and He alone is the great . . . God. This theme of God’s incomparable greatness is also reflected in the psalm’s sevenfold use of the word Lord (’ăḏōnay), which stresses His lordship and sovereignty (Ps. 86:3-5, 8-9, 12, 15).

86:11-13. The psalmist prayed for instruction so that he might be even more faithful to God in His greatness. He desired to know God’s way so that he could dedicate himself to it with undivided loyalty. In addition he vowed to praise God’s greatness wholeheartedly (cf. heart, v. 11). Because of God’s love He delivered David from death.


Ps. 86:1–5. The prayer to be heard runs like 55:3; and the statement of the ground on which it is based, v. 1b, word for word like 40:18. It is then particularly expressed as a prayer for preservation (שָׁמְרָה, as in 119:167, although imperative, to be read shāmerah ; cf. 30:4 מִיָּרְדִי, 38:21 רָדְפִי or רָדֳפִי, and what we have already observed on 16:1 שָׁמְרֵנִי); for he is not only in need of God’s help, but also because חָסִיד (Ps. 4:4; 16:10), i.e., united to Him in the bond of affection (חֶסֶד, Hos. 6:4, Jer. 2:2), not unworthy of it. In v. 2 we hear the strains of 25:20; 31:7; in v. 3, of 57:2f.: the confirmation in v. 4b is taken verbally from 25:1, cf. also 130:6. Here, what is said in v. 4 of this shorter Adonajic Psalm, 130, is abbreviated in the ἅπαξ γεγραμ. סַלָּח (root סל, חל, to allow to hang loose, χαλᾶν, to give up, remittere). The Lord is good (טֹוב), i.e., altogether love, and for this very reason also ready to forgive, and great and rich in mercy for all who call upon Him as such. The beginning of the following group also accords with Ps. 130 in v. 2.

Ps. 86:6–13. Here, too, almost everything is an echo of earlier language of the Psalms and of the Law; viz., v. 7 follows 17:6 and other passages; v. 8a is taken from Ex. 15:11, cf. 89:9, where, however, אלהים, gods, is avoided; v. 8b follows Deut. 3:24; v. 9 follows 22:28; v. 11a is taken from 27:11; v. 11b from 26:3; v. 13, שְׁאֹול תַּחְתִּיָּה from Deut. 32:22, where instead of this it is תַּחְתִּית, just as in 130:2 תַּחֲנוּנָי (supplicatory prayer) instead of תַּחֲנוּנֹותָי (importunate supplications); and also v. 10 (cf. 72:18) is a doxological formula that was already in existence. The construction הקשׁיב בְּ is the same as in 66:19. But although for the most part flowing on only in the language of prayer borrowed from earlier periods, this Psalm is, moreover, not without remarkable significance and beauty. With the confession of the incomparableness of the Lord is combined the prospect of the recognition of the incomparable One throughout the nations of the earth. This clear unallegorical prediction of the conversion of the heathen is the principal parallel to Apoc. 15:4. “All nations, which Thou hast made”—they have their being from Thee; and although they have forgotten it (vid., 9:18), they will nevertheless at last come to recognise it. כָּל־גֹּויִם, since the article is wanting, are nations of all tribes (countries and nationalities); cf. Jer. 16:16 with Ps. 22:18; Tobit 13:11, ἔθνη πολλά, with ibid. 14:6, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. And how weightily brief and charming is the petition in v. 11: uni cor meum, ut timeat nomen tuum! Luther has rightly departed from the renderings of the LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate: laetetur (יִחַדְּ from חָדָה). The meaning, however, is not so much “keep my heart near to the only thing,” as “direct all its powers and concentrate them on the one thing.” The following group shows us what is the meaning of the deliverance out of the hell beneath (שְׁאֹול תַּחְתִּיָּה , like אֶרֶץ תַּחְתִּית , the earth beneath, the inner parts of the earth, Ezek. 31:14ff.), for which the poet promises beforehand to manifest his thankfulness (כִּי, v. 13, as in 56:14).


Ps 86:1–17. This is a prayer in which the writer, with deep emotion, mingles petitions and praises, now urgent for help, and now elated with hope, in view of former mercies. The occurrence of many terms and phrases peculiar to David’s Psalms clearly intimates its authorship.

1, 2. poor and needy—a suffering child of God, as in Ps 10:12, 17; 18:27.

I am holy—or, “godly,” as in Ps 4:3; 85:8.

4. lift up my soul—with strong desire (Ps 25:1).

5–7. unto all … that call upon thee—or, “worship Thee” (Ps 50:15; 91:15) however undeserving (Ex 34:6; Le 11:9–13).

8. neither … works—literally, “nothing like thy works,” the “gods” have none at all.

9, 10. The pious Jews believed that God’s common relation to all would be ultimately acknowledged by all men (Ps 45:12–16; 47:9).

11. Teach—Show, point out.

the way—of Providence.

walk in thy truth—according to its declarations.

unite my heart—fix all my affections (Ps 12:2; Jam 4:8).

to fear thy name—(compare Ps 86:12) to honor Thy perfections.


Almost every line of this psalm has been lifted out of other psalms in our collection or is a quotation from the Torah, the name of the first five books of the OT. We can discover in it no less than forty quotations. Yet the genius of its author shows itself as he welds all these scattered lines into a poem in praise of God. We too perhaps sing snatches of hymns as we go about our work, but not many of us could fit all these separate verses into one coherent whole, and then find that our patchwork had been adopted as Holy Scripture and sung in church! The psalm is in four parts.

Part I, verses 1–7, I search for God. The speaker is an ordinary, working-class (could we say?) citizen, a member of the church (for that is what godly means). “I need thee every hour,” he says, as in Annie S. Hawks’ well-known hymn. I know you are a forgiving God, and your Covenant love never lets you forget all those who call on you. However, he seems to have tried everything else before returning to God, all the various “isms” of his day. In contrast he declares seven times over in this psalm that he now knows God to be the sovereign Lord. He begins with a plaintive repetition of I…I…I…, but he quickly remembers to turn and say Thou art my God (verse 2). And so he quotes (verse 5) the great basic description of the nature of God himself revealed to us at Exod. 34:6–7.

The word day in verse 7 shows an interesting usage. It does not refer to clock time, any more than does the word “hour” as we have seen before. It speaks here of a terrible “moment”, a crushing experience, when eternity breaks in upon a man’s consciousness and he is overwhelmed with the horror of his trouble. This is no mere passing worry but is an experience of the eternal judgment of the living God. Thus he is compelled to call upon God, and he finds (ki) that thou dost answer me. So he finds God’s amazing comfort right in the midst of his terror.

Part II, verses 8–10, I have found him. I know I have, because there can be no other God. Your divine majesty makes me feel as nothing. The things you do no other God could do. Consequently, he declares, not only my nation, Israel, but all the nations of the earth whom thou hast made shall one day bow down before thee and shall glorify thy name.

Part III, verses 11–13, Teach me thy way, O Lord. Thus he prays, so that the next step may be that I may walk in thy truth, or, “in responsive fidelity to your fidelity to me” (see at Ps. 85:10–13). To that end, he continues, “Please unite my heart”, that is, integrate my personality so that I may become an uncomplicated person (compare Matt. 5:8). Then I will give thanks to thee “whole”-heartedly. I shall do so, for thou hast delivered my “whole” being (soul in the RSV) from the depths of Sheol. God has not, of course, raised him from the dead. Sheol represents something else that is “whole”. It is in fact the “hollow place” down below the ground, down below the natural creation. But it is also the “sub” conscious of God’s creature man. Deep within man’s subconscious (or, as the Biblical writers understood it, from the “heart” of man) there bursts up, as Jesus says, all manner of evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander—these are what defile a man (Matt. 15:19–20). And it is from these that God has evidently delivered our psalmist.[4]

Verses 1-7

This psalm was published under the title of a prayer of David; not as if David sung all his prayers, but into some of his songs he inserted prayers; for a psalm will admit the expressions of any pious and devout affections. But it is observable how very plain the language of this psalm is, and how little there is in it of poetic flights or figures, in comparison with some other psalms; for the flourishes of wit are not the proper ornaments of prayer. Now here we may observe,

I. The petitions he puts up to God. It is true, prayer accidentally may preach, but it is most fit that (as it is in this prayer) every passage should be directed to God, for such is the nature of prayer as it is here described (v. 4): Unto thee, O Lord! do I lift up my soul, as he had said Ps. 25:1. In all the parts of prayer the soul must ascend upon the wings of faith and holy desire, and be lifted up to God, to meet the communications of his grace, and in an expectation raised very high of great things from him. 1. He begs that God would give a gracious audience to his prayers (v. 1): Bow down thy ear, O Lord! hear me. When God hears our prayers it is fitly said that he bows down his ear to them, for it is admirable condescension in God that he is pleased to take notice of such mean creatures as we are and such defective prayers as ours are. He repeats this again (v. 6): "Give ear, O Lord! unto my prayer, a favourable ear, though it be whispered, though it be stammered; attend to the voice of my supplications.’’ Not that God needs to have his affection stirred up by any thing that we can say; but thus we must express our desire of his favour. The Son of David spoke it with assurance and pleasure (Jn. 11:41, 42), Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me; and I know that thou hearest me always. 2. He begs that God would take him under his special protection, and so be the author of his salvation (v. 2): Preserve my soul; save thy servant. It was David’s soul that was God’s servant; for those only serve God acceptably that serve him with their spirits. David’s concern is about his soul; if we understand it of his natural life, it teaches us that the best self-preservation is to commit ourselves to God’s keeping and by faith and prayer to make our Creator our preserver. But it may be understood of his spiritual life, the life of the soul as distinct from the body: "Preserve my soul from that one evil and dangerous thing to souls, even from sin; preserve my soul, and so save me.’’ All those whom God will save he preserves, and will preserve them to his heavenly kingdom. 3. He begs that God would look upon him with an eye of pity and compassion (v. 3): Be merciful to me, O Lord! It is mercy in God to pardon our sins and to help us out of our distresses; both these are included in this prayer, God be merciful to me. "Men show no mercy; we ourselves deserve no mercy, but, Lord, for mercy-sake, be merciful unto me.’’ 4. He begs that God would fill him with inward comfort (v. 4): Rejoice the soul of thy servant. It is God only that can put gladness into the heart and make the soul to rejoice, and then, and not till then, the joy is full; and, as it is the duty of those who are God’s servants to serve him with gladness, so it is their privilege to be filled with joy and peace in believing, and they may in faith pray, not only that God will preserve their souls, but that he will rejoice their souls, and the joy of the Lord will be their strength. Observe, When he prays, Rejoice my soul, he adds, For unto thee do I lift up my soul. Then we may expect comfort from God when we take care to keep up our communion with God: prayer is the nurse of spiritual joy.

II. The pleas with which he enforces these petitions. 1. He pleads his relation to God and interest in him: "Thou art my God, to whom I have devoted myself, and on whom I depend, and I am thy servant (v. 2), in subjection to thee, and therefore looking for protection from thee.’’ 2. He pleads his distress: "Hear me, for I am poor and needy, therefore I want thy help, therefore none else will hear me.’’ God is the poor man’s King, whose glory it is to save the souls of the needy; those who are poor in spirit, who see themselves empty and necessitous, are most welcome to the God of all grace. 3. He pleads God’s good will towards all that seek him (v. 5): "To thee do I lift up my soul in desire and expectation; for thou, Lord, art good;’’ and whither should beggars go but to the door of the good house-keeper? The goodness of God’s nature is a great encouragement to us in all our addresses to him. His goodness appears in two things, giving and forgiving. (1.) He is a sin-pardoning God; not only he can forgive, but he is ready to forgive, more ready to forgive than we are to repent. I said, I will confess, and thou forgavest, Ps. 32:5. (2.) He is a prayer-hearing God; he is plenteous in mercy, very full, and very free, both rich and liberal unto all those that call upon him; he has wherewithal to supply all their needs and is openhanded in granting that supply. 4. He pleads God’s good work in himself, by which he had qualified him for the tokens of his favour. Three things were wrought in him by divine grace, which he looked upon as earnests of all good:—(1.) A conformity to God (v. 2): I am holy, therefore preserve my soul; for those whom the Spirit sanctifies he will preserve. He does not say this in pride and vain glory, but with humble thankfulness to God. I am one whom thou favourest (so the margin reads it), whom thou hast set apart for thyself. If God has begun a good work of grace in us, we must own that the time was a time of love. Then was I in his eyes as one that found favour, and whom God hath taken into his favour he will take under his protection. All his saints are in thy hand, Deu. 33:3. Observe, I am needy (v. 1), yet I am holy (v. 2), holy and yet needy, poor in the world, but rich in faith. Those who preserve their purity in their greatest poverty may assure themselves that God will preserve their comforts, will preserve their souls. (2.) A confidence in God: Save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Those that are holy must nevertheless not trust in themselves, nor in their own righteousness, but only in God and his grace. Those that trust in God may expect salvation from him. (3.) A disposition to communion with God. He hopes God will answer his prayers, because he had inclined him to pray. [1.] To be constant in prayer: I cry unto thee daily, and all the day, v. 3. It is thus our duty to pray always, without ceasing, and to continue instant in prayer; and then we may hope to have our prayers heard which we make in the time of trouble, if we have made conscience of the duty at other times, at all times. It is comfortable if an affliction finds the wheels of prayer a-going, and that hey are not then to be set a-going. [2.] To be inward with God in prayer, to lift up his soul to him, v. 4. Then we may hope that God will meet us with his mercies, when we in our prayers send forth our souls as it were to meet him. [3.] To be in a special manner earnest with God in prayer when he was in affliction (v. 7): "In the day of my trouble, whatever others do, I will call upon thee, and commit my case to thee, for thou wilt hear and answer me, and I shall not seek in vain, as those did who cried, O Baal! hear us; but there was no voice, nor any that regarded,’’ 1 Ki. 18:29.

Verses 8-17

David is here going on in his prayer.

I. He gives glory to God; for we ought in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory, to him, with the most humble and reverent adorations. 1. As a being of unparalleled perfection, such a one that there is none like him nor any to be compared with him, v. 8. Among the gods, the false gods, whom the heathens worshipped, the angels, the kings of the earth, among them all, there is none like unto thee, O Lord! none so wise, so mighty, so good; neither are there any works like unto thy works, which is an undeniable proof that there is none like him; his own works praise him, and the best way we have of praising him is by acknowledging that there is none like him. 2. As the fountain of all being and the centre of all praise (v. 9): "Thou hast made all nations, made them all of one blood; they all derive their being from thee, and have a constant dependence on thee, and therefore they shall come and worship before thee and glorify thy name.’’ This was in part fulfilled in the multitude of proselytes to the Jewish religion in the days of David and Solomon, but was to have its full accomplishment in the days of the Messiah, when some out of every kingdom and nation should be effectually brought in to praise God, Rev. 7:9. It was by Christ that God made all nations, for without him was not any thing made that was made, and therefore through Christ, and by the power of his gospel and grace, all nations shall be brought to worship before God, Isa. 66:23. 3. As a being infinitely great (v. 10): "Therefore all nations shall worship before thee, because as King of nations thou art great, thy sovereignty absolute and incontestable, thy majesty terrible and insupportable, thy power universal and irresistible, thy riches vast and inexhaustible, thy dominion boundless and unquestionable; and, for the proof of this, thou doest wondrous things, which all nations admire, and whence they might easily infer that thou art God alone, not only none like thee, but none besides thee.’’ Let us always entertain great thoughts of this great God, and be filled with holy admiration of this God who doeth wonders; and let him alone have our hearts who is God alone. 4. As a being infinitely good. Man is bad, very wicked and vile (v. 14); no mercy is to be expected from him; but thou, O Lord! art a God full of compassion, and gracious, v. 15. This is that attribute by which he proclaims his name, and by which we are therefore to proclaim it, Ex. 34:6, 7. It is his goodness that is over all his works, and therefore should fill all our praises; and this is our comfort, in reference to the wickedness of the world we live in, that, however it be, God is good. Men are barbarous, but God is gracious; men are false, but God is faithful. God is not only compassionate, but full of compassion, and in him mercy rejoiceth against judgment. He is long-suffering towards us, though we forfeit his favour and provoke him to anger, and he is plenteous in mercy and truth, as faithful in performing as he was free in promising. 5. As a kind friend and bountiful benefactor to him. We ought to praise God as good in himself, but we do it most feelingly when we observe how good he has been to us. This therefore the psalmist dwells upon with most pleasure, v. 12, 13. He had said (v. 9), All nations shall praise thee, O Lord! and glorify thy name. It is some satisfaction to a good man to think that others shall praise and glorify God, but it is his greatest care and pleasure to do it himself. "Whatever others do’’ (says David), "I will praise thee, O Lord my God! not only as the Lord, but as my God; and I will do it with all my heart; I will be ready to do it and cordial in it; I will do it with cheerfulness and liveliness, with a sincere regard to thy honour; for I will glorify thy name, not for a time, but for evermore. I will do it as long as I live, and hope to be doing it to eternity.’’ With good reason does he resolve to be thus particular in praising God, because God had shown him particular favours: For great is thy mercy towards me. The fountain of mercy is inexhaustibly full; the streams of mercy are inestimably rich. When we speak of God’s mercy to us, it becomes us thus to magnify it: Great is thy mercy towards me. Of the greatness of God’s mercy he gives this instance, Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell, from death, from so great a death, as St. Paul (2 Co. 1:10), from eternal death, so even some of the Jewish writers understand it. David knew he deserved to be cast off for ever into the lowest hell for his sin in the matter of Uriah; but Nathan assured him that the Lord had taken away his sin, and by that word he was delivered from the lowest hell, and herein God’s mercy was great towards him. Even the best saints owe it, not to their own merit, but to the mercy of God, that they are saved from the lowest hell; and the consideration of that should greatly enlarge their hearts in praising the mercy of God, which they are obliged to glorify for evermore. So glorious; so gracious, a rescue from everlasting misery, justly requires the return of everlasting praise.

II. He prays earnestly for mercy and grace from God. He complains of the restless and implacable malice of his enemies against him


The psalmist pleads his earnestness, and the mercy of God, as reasons why his prayer should be heard


He renews his requests for help and comfort



Verses 1–7

Our poverty and wretchedness, when felt, powerfully plead in our behalf at the throne of grace. The best self-preservation is to commit ourselves to God’s keeping. I am one whom thou favourest, hast set apart for thyself, and made partaker of sanctifying grace. It is a great encouragement to prayer, to feel that we have received the converting grace of God, have learned to trust in him, and to be his servants. We may expect comfort from God, when we keep up our communion with God. God’s goodness appears in two things, in giving and forgiving. Whatever others do, let us call upon God, and commit our case to him; we shall not seek in vain.

Verses 8–17

Our God alone possesses almighty power and infinite love. Christ is the way and the truth. And the believing soul will be more desirous to be taught the way and the truth. And the believing soul will be more desirous to be taught the way and the truth of God, in order to walk therein, than to be delivered out of earthly distress. Those who set not the Lord before them, seek after believers’ souls; but the compassion, mercy, and truth of God, will be their refuge and consolation. And those whose parents were the servants of the Lord, may urge this as a plea why he should hear and help them. In considering David’s experience, and that of the believer, we must not lose sight of Him, who though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich.

[6] 1–6 ‘To you, O Sovereign’: he hears prayer. The section is ‘enclosed’ by an appeal to be heard (1, 6). The word for in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (omitted, niv) and what v 2 implies offer five grounds on which we pray: (i) Because of helplessness (1): poor and needy, downtrodden and the ineffectual pawn of others; (ii) Because of two-way love (2): devoted, better ‘dear and devoted’, loved and loving back; (iii) Because of committed trust (2), a personal relationship (my God) issuing in obedience (servant), founded on trust; (iv) Because of persistent (all day, 3) expectant intercession (3–4). To ‘lift up the soul’ (24:4) is to bring all our desires to God alone and to look to him alone for supply; (v) Because he is what he is (5), good ‘kind’, towards us in our need, forgiving our sins, abounding in the unchanging love to which he has committed himself.

7–13 ‘None like you, O Sovereign’: he is the only God. David now comes closer to the situation: the ‘brackets’ of the section are v 7, confidence that in the day of trouble God will answer, and v 13, confidence that divine unfailing love ‘will deliver’ (the verb is future) even if his enemies bring him to the grave and in Sheol he faces the life beyond. His awareness of the greatness of God starts on the widest scale: (8–10), that the only God is sovereign over every power there may be in heaven (8), and awaits the submission of all the earth (9); it moves to the personal plane (11–12), that the only God is worthy of his total commitment, outwardly in the way he lives, inwardly in heart (11) and upwardly in praise (12). 11 does not mean ‘teach me how to get out of this trouble’ but ‘teach me, while the trouble still rages, to live your way’. Undivided heart, ‘unite/unify my heart’, deliver me from being double-minded, two-faced with God; give me ‘a single, steady aim, unmoved by threatening or reward, to you and your great name’.[7]

I.    David’s Troubles: What He Seeks from God (86:1–4, 6, 11, 14, 16–17)

A.  His persecutors (86:14) : Insolent, violent, God-rejecting people are trying to kill him.

B.  His petitions (86:1–4, 6, 11, 16–17)

1.   Hear me! (86:1, 6): He needs God to hear his prayer for help.

2.   Protect me! (86:2) : Because he serves and trusts God.

3.   Be merciful to me! (86:3, 6, 16): Because he calls on God constantly.

4.   Give me happiness! (86:4) : Because his life depends on God.

5.   Teach me! (86:11) : Because he wants to live according to God’s truth.

6.         Give me a sign! (86:17) : Because if he has God’s favor, those who hate him will be put to shame.[8]

Psalm 86 A Prayer for Deliverance

An individual’s lament

David trusted in the great revelation of God given so long ago to Moses in Exodus 34:6 (Ps. 86:5, 13). The Hebrew word translated as “devoted” (86:2) can also be translated “loyal” and refers to one who is faithful to his covenant relationship with God. In 86:11 David prayed that his heart would be totally focused on God’s awesome reputation (“truth”), not distracted by other interests or desires.


Psalm 86 Wanted: Holiness, strength, and a sign. Having acknowledged God’s greatness and mercy (86:1–7) and that he alone is God (86:8–10), David asked the Lord for moral instruction (86:11–13), for supernatural strength (86:16), and for a sign to reassure him amid all his enemies (86:14–15, 17).[10]

Psalm 86. A Prayer for God’s Favor.

            In Psalm 86 we recognize the sincere prayer of an individual who is in personal distress. The general nature of his distress makes the message apply to any person in trouble. It is this lack of specific detail that has led several commentators to view the psalm as corporate rather than individual. While this is basically a personal meditation, the author at times identifies himself with his community.

            1-5. A General Plea for Help. Bow down ... hear me. In general terms the psalmist sets forth his needs. Each plea carries with it the reason why God should answer it. He cries for God to hear because of his needy condition, to keep because of his pious nature, to save because of his continual prayer, and to gladden because of his sincere devotions. His faith is based upon the fact that God is a “forgiver,” who shows mercy and pardons.

            6-10. A Confident Hope in a Response. Give ear ... for thou wilt answer me. The majesty and power of God make this confidence possible. While the other nations have their own gods, none of them can do the mighty works of the Lord. His greatness will eventually cause these nations to worship Him who is God alone.

            11-17. A Prayer for Guidance and Protection. Teach me ... unite my heart. It is God’s teaching that will enable the psalmist to walk in truth. He desires unity of purpose that he may worthily praise and glorify the name of the Lord. With the humility of a slave or a handmaid’s son, he asks for God’s merciful protection and requests some sign of divine favor toward him.[11]


II.    His mercy is eternal (verse5)

Psalm 103:17

17  But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,

And His righteousness to children’s children,


Psalm 106:1

1  Praise the Lord!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.


III.  It moves us to repentance

Joel 2:13

13  And rend your heart and not your garments.”

Now return to the Lord your God,

For He is gracious and compassionate,

Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness

And relenting of evil.


Romans 2:4

4  Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?


IV.It makes salvation possible

Lamentations 3:22

22  The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.


Titus 3:5

5  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,


V.   It is the source of our forgiveness

Micah 7:18

18  Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity

And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?

He does not retain His anger forever,

Because He delights in unchanging love.


Ephesians 2:4

4  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

Ephesians 2:8

8  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;


VI.It is the basis of our hope

Psalm 130:7

7  O Israel, hope in the Lord;

For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,

And with Him is abundant redemption.


Psalm 147:11

11  The Lord favors those who fear Him,

Those who wait for His lovingkindness.


VII.          It is offered to repentant sinners

Psalm 32:5

5  I acknowledged my sin to You,

And my iniquity I did not hide;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;

And You forgave the guilt of my sin.     Selah.


Proverbs 28:13

13  He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,

But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.


Luke 15:18-20

18  ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;

19  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” ’

20  “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.



[1]Walvoord, J. F., R. B. Zuck, & Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985.

[2]Keil, C. F., & F. Delitzsch. Commentary on the Old Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002. Vol. 5, Page 570-571.

[3]Jamieson, R., A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset, D. Brown, & D. Brown. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997. Ps 86:1.

[4]Knight, G. A. F. Psalms  : Volume 2. The Daily study Bible series. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001, c1982.

[5]Henry, M. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991. Ps 86:8.

[6]Henry, M., & T. Scott. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997. Ps 86:1.

[7]Carson, D. A. New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition. 4th ed. Leicester, England;  Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994. Ps 86:1.

[8]Willmington, H. L. The Outline Bible. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999. Ps 86:17.

[9]Hughes, R. B., J. C. Laney, & R. B. Hughes. Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary. The Tyndale reference library. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001. Page 220.

[10]Willmington, H. L. Willmington's Bible Handbook. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1997. Page 318.

[11]Pfeiffer, C. F. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary : Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1962. Ps 86:1.

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