Tuesday, April 04, 2023

2023.04.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 86:1–10

Read Psalm 86:1–10

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose prayer was this (superscript)? What does Psalm 86:1a ask Yahweh to do? Why (verse 1b)? What request does he make (Psalm 86:2a)? With what argument? How does verse 2b summarize what it means to be holy? What does verse 2c ask for? What does he call himself? What does Psalm 86:3a ask for? Why (verse 3b)? What does Psalm 86:4a ask for? Why (verse 4b)? What summary argument does Psalm 86:5 make? What does Psalm 86:6 ask for? How does Psalm 86:7 describe his resolve to pray? How does Psalm 86:8 explain why he is praying? To what end are all nations/history proceeding (Psalm 86:9)? Why (Psalm 86:10)? 

What sorts of arguments do the Lord’s true people make in prayer? Psalm 86:1–10 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that, when reasoning with God in prayer, the Lord’s true people plead His own character, His own glory, and even their neediness upon the basis of His great mercy. 

When we consider the sorts of pleas and arguments that this Psalm teaches us to pray, we come amazed at the sort of God Who has made and saved us. Consider the following reasoning, and what it implies:

  • I am poor and needy (God is One Who bows down His ear to such poor and needy ones)
  • I am holy (God Who alone has inherent holiness has consecrated to Himself a people)
  • I am Your servant (He has taken me into His service and cares about me as His own)
  • I trust in You (He has offered Himself to be my hope and help)
  • I cry to You all day long (God listens to our cries and cares)

The key request in the first half of the psalm is in Psalm 86:4: “Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” It is at this point that Psalm 86:5-10 take their encouragement from the character of God. Sometimes we hear the sick sort of reasoning that says “powerful” praying is prayer that comes with “great belief.” This is not the compatible with biblical thought. Our faith is weak and small, and even what we have comes as a gift. “Powerful” praying is prayer that sets whatever weak believing it has upon a great God! A great God Who has shown His character most of all at the cross (cp. Psalm 85:9–10).

  • You are good
  • You are ready to forgive
  • You are abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You
  • You will answer me
  • There is none like You, O Lord (God distinguishes Himself as the true God by hearing prayer!)
  • There are no works like Your works (God glorifies Himself by doing what is impossible to all others!)
  • You have made all nations; they shall come, worship, and glorify You (God does all things for His glory!)
  • You are great and do wonderous things
  • You alone are God

Here is the key to powerful praying for any believer in any situation: prayer’s effectiveness is bound up not in the one who prays but in the One to Whom he prays. Even when we don’t have the presence of mind to reason like this, we can still be poor and needy before Him; we can still cry to Him all day long. The reality is true, even when we lack the presence of mind to state it. To this He also adds Psalms like this to give us that presence of mind. How merciful is our God!

What situations have brought you to a low place like the one from which David prayed this Psalm? What can you pray in such a low estate? What hope do you have that it will be effective.

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are good and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. There is none like You, O Lord, nor re there any works like Your works. All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your Name. You are great and do wondrous things. Grant Your Spirit’s help that we may glorify You in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP86A “Listen and Answer” or TPH214 “Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above”

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