A prayer of David.
1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God;3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
When you pray, do you expect an answer? Sometimes answers to our prayers seem a long time coming. Sometimes we wonder if there will be any answer at all. Psalm 86 is a prayer of David which finishes very much on an unanswered note. Yet what he’s asking for is what we all need most. It’s the deepest prayer of our souls. So it’s worth seeing when and how God’s answer finally came to David, and to us.
David finishes his prayer with the words, “give me a sign”. Perhaps you’ve prayed that way in times of despair. As David pours out his heart, it’s certainly an unresolved way for the prayer to end: “give me a sign of your goodness”. Did this sign ever come?
We’ve already played “spot the difference” reading the Psalms, comparing the picture of King David with the picture of God’s ultimate King, Jesus. We’ve seen times when the voice in the Psalm is truer of Jesus, who fulfils it, than of David, who first spoke it. Both suffered. Both were surrounded by enemies. But only one really had an undivided heart (verse 11). Only one was truly delivered from death (verse 13). Only one made it possible for people from all nations to worship God (verse 9).
Jesus could not only pray the words of Psalm 86, but he also answers its plea. Where David seeks a sign, Jesus gives it. He has placed a signpost in history as an answer to the deepest prayers of our soul. He has placed a signpost in history which gives life and hope to people from all nations. That signpost is His death and resurrection.
There are many times when our specific prayers will seem unanswered. Yet in Jesus’ death and resurrection God has spoken a clear word over all our prayers. He has given an answer to the deepest cry of our souls. He has shown us that, whatever seems incomprehensible to us, whatever feels uncertain to us, whatever seems unresolved, the God who gave his very Son to us can be trusted.
Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 86? What have you learnt about yourself?
Heart: How does it make you feel that the deepest cry of your soul is answered in Jesus?
Hands: Paul tells us to always pray “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6). Whatever seems unclear as you pray today, give thanks for what is crystal clear in Jesus’ death and resurrection: God loves you and offers eternal hope to all the world.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for answering the deep cry of David’s heart in Jesus. Thank you for answering the deepest cry of my soul in Jesus. Thank you that you delivered Jesus from death in his resurrection and you offer that hope to me and all the world. In our very troubled and suffering world please be merciful and send, with great power, your gospel to all people. Thanks for this clear sign of your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.