Psalm 86:1–13 comment (0)
January 29, 2009
By James C. Pounds Jr.
Related Scripture: Psalm 86:1–13
Bible Studies for Life
Director of the Extension Division, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Ever wondered if you were praying correctly? Ever thought God wasn’t hearing or answering your prayers? No? That’s great. Unfortunately there are many around us who have had moments in which they lacked confidence in their prayer life. They wanted to believe that God was going to hear and respond but they just weren’t sure. But those insecurities don’t come from God. He wants us to approach Him securely and boldly, and His Word makes that clear.
Confident in God’s Character (1–5)
In the opening sentence — “Incline Thine ear, O Lord, and answer me” — David came before the Father trusting in two very important realities: God hears and God answers those who call upon Him (Jer. 29:12–13). David admitted to being in incredible pain, crying to God all day long, and looked for encouragement and restoration as he placed his faith in God’s grace, forgiveness and love.
Confident in God’s Response (6–10)
As David continued in his confession, he reaffirmed his confidence that he was heard and would be answered. In the midst of his pain, where did David get such assurance? He declared there is no other like God and everything the Lord has done in the past only confirms what He can certainly do in the future. David relied on God’s past great works as evidence that He is to be trusted with today’s needs and requests.
Confident in God’s Ways (11–13)
Secure that the Lord would be merciful to him, David anticipated deliverance and recommitted himself to God. He desired to walk in God’s ways. He wanted new guidance, new instruction and a new heart. And David declared that he would praise and glorify the Father forever.
Many Christians, based on a lifetime of living and walking with God, have very confident prayer lives. They have experienced Him in the highs and lows of their lives and know Him to be faithful to His promises. Others are still growing in their prayer life with the Father and tend to come to Him more often with needs than praises. That is human nature and certainly understandable but also explains how some become disillusioned or frustrated in their communication with God.
This Psalm reminds us how we understand prayer is shaped by our understanding of the two parties involved — God and us — and the depth of the relationship we have with Him.
David’s prayer shows that he knew the One whom he was talking with: a God who was very near, listened to his prayers and was worthy of his complete trust. This Psalm calls us to recognize God in the same way — to come before the Creator, trusting in Him and His attributes. Knowing our holy and righteous God is also gracious, loving and forgiving gives us every confidence to believe He hears and answers (1 John 5:13–15).
But there are those times when each of us hurts and wonders what God is doing and thinking. David had those same feelings and yet was able to draw strength from the Lord by recalling all of His great works he had witnessed in the past. Can’t we do the same thing? If we’ll draw on our memories of all of the incredible things we’ve seen God do in our lives and His world, then He will give us the same strength David relied upon (Ps. 77:11–12; Prov. 3:5–6).
And with that strength helping us stay focused on God, we can then, like David, commit to walk in His ways the best way we know how: by relying on His help. This brings about a new humility that causes us to become submissive and teachable and able to understand God’s guidance in a new way (Phil. 2:12–13). God has always called His people to draw close to Him, wanting us to know how much He loves us. That’s why He came to earth, died for us and made a way for us to be with, call to, talk with and be comforted by Him.
In our own efforts and strength, we have no reason for confidence, but Jesus Christ’s self-sacrifice on our behalf gives us all of the confidence we need. Jesus’ death and resurrection should give us great confidence every time we approach God in prayer.