The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 86

Psa 86:1

SUPERSCRIPTION: "A PRAYER OF DAVID". Perhaps vv 1-7 comprise an orig psalm of David (cp Psa 132:3-9, a psalm of David enclosed in a psalm of Hezekiah), which Hezekiah appropriated -- because it was so suitable to himself also -- and to which he added vv 8-17. Hence this psalm's inclusion in the Korah (Hezekiah) group, making a total of 12.

HEAR: AV has "bow down thine ear": As one might do to hear the feeble words of the sick or dying (cp Psa 31:2). These words of David might esp have appealed to Hezekiah in an equally hopeless situation (2Ki 19:16).

FOR I AM POOR AND NEEDY: Psa 40:17. Here is "the poor in spirit", whom Christ blessed (Mat 5:3; Luk 6:20,24). The man who is truly poor in spirit is the man who has learned to trust in God alone. He does not have to be taught that he is sick and in need of a physician; he already knows that only too well!

Psa 86:2


Psa 86:3

HAVE MERCY ON ME, O LORD: (NT) Quoted by that amazing Canaanite woman, who came to Jesus seeking a miracle of healing for her daughter (Mat 15:22). And note the rest of the v: "thou son of David"!

ALL DAY LONG: Or "daily" (AV). David, thrice daily (Psa 55:17; cp Luk 18:1).

Psa 86:4

TO YOU, O LORD, I LIFT UP MY SOUL: Neither David nor Hezekiah could lift up a heave offering in the House of the Lord. Circumstances were against them. But this alternative was better; for one may lift up his soul to God no matter where he might be!

Psa 86:7

Poss refs to: (a) David's sickness, and Absalom's rebellion; and (b) Hezekiah's sickness, and Sennacherib's invasion.

Psa 86:8

AMONG THE GODS THERE IS NONE LIKE YOU, O LORD: Did David face the challenge of polytheism? But Hezekiah had it hurled at him time and again (Isa 36:18-20; 37:8-13,18,19,37).

(NT) Poss this means: 'in the congregation (cp "assemblies of violent men" in Psa 86:14) of the mighty judges (Psa 82:1,6), there are none who act righteously.'

NO DEEDS CAN COMPARE WITH YOURS: (NT) These "works" are men and women new-born in Christ -- for example, Psa 145:10-13. Rev 15:3,4 is not only the Song of Moses (Exo 15:1,11), but also the Song of the Lamb (cp with Psa 86:2,8-10).

Psa 86:9

See 2Ch 32:23 again.

(NT) The fullness of the Kingdom, when God's house will have become "a house of prayer for all nations" (Isa 56:7; Mat 21:13; Mar 11:17; Luk 19:46; cp Psa 22:27-29 and Rev 15:4)!

Psa 86:10

YOU ARE GREAT AND DO MARVELOUS DEEDS: After the Exodus, Israel never saw anything else to cp with the annihilation of the Assyrians: Isa 37:36.

YOU ALONE ARE GOD: In ct to the many presumptive "gods" of the nations.

Psa 86:11

TEACH ME YOUR WAY: "The way of his steps" in Psa 85:13.

I WILL WALK IN YOUR TRUTH: God's covenants of promise, also called His mercy (v 15). Hezekiah relied especially on God's great promise to David (2Sa 7; Isa 38:18,19). These words are echoed in Psa 26:3. This was the prayer of Hezekiah also in 2Ki 20:3.

GIVE ME AN UNDIVIDED HEART: This was the apostle Paul's heartfelt longing (Rom 7:14-21). And it was also an important element in the New Covenant: Jer 31:33.

(NT) Consider the divided inclinations even in the heart of Jesus: "Not my will, but thy will, be done" (Mat 26:39; Mar 14:36; Luk 22:42). "Only a powerful motive could make a man's heart one perfect whole" (LGS).

Psa 86:12


I WILL GLORIFY YOUR NAME FOREVER: Both David and Hezekiah believed emphatically in the Messianic kingdom, and in themselves as types of Messiah.

(NT) The dominant idea in all Christ's life: Joh 12:28; 13:31; 14:13; 15:8, 17:1,4; etc.

Psa 86:13

YOU HAVE DELIVERED ME FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE GRAVE: Here is Hezekiah's miraculous recovery: Isa 38:10,17,18.

(NT) Not only deliverance from death but also from all the misery of the day of crucifixion: "O my Father... let this cup pass from me" (Mat 26:39; Mar 14:35,36; Luk 22:42).

Psa 86:14

This is a remarkably vivid description of the crude threats of the Assyrians and their allies against God's beleaguered city.

A BAND OF RUTHLESS MEN: (NT) Jewish Sanhedrin (cp Psa. 22:16).

MEN WITHOUT REGARD FOR YOU: (NT) The words imply that they knew this duty but deliberately backed away from it; they were "enlightened rejecters" of God's Law and -- especially -- of Jesus, God's special representative set down in their midst.

Psa 86:15

// Exo 34:6,7.

Psa 86:16

GRANT YOUR STRENGTH TO YOUR SERVANT: (NT) An angel -- prob Gabriel (the "Strong One of God") -- strengthened God's Servant Jesus in Gethsemane (Luk 22:43).

SAVE: Anticipates the very name of Jesus (Luk 1:31), "for he shall save his people from their sins" (Mat 1:21).

THE SON OF YOUR MAIDSERVANT: Found elsewhere only in Psa 116:16, which is another Hezekiah psalm. While not esp appropriate to David, such a phrase is quite fitting for Hezekiah, in the light of the initial application of Isa 7:14 (WHez 1-6).

(NT) A description -- in the fullest sense -- of the Messiah and of no one else. Mary was the only true handmaid of the Lord (Luk 1:38,48).

Psa 86:17

GIVE ME A SIGN OF YOUR GOODNESS: Hezekiah saw a vision of the Glory of the Lord as surety of his own miraculous recovery. The Glory was also the overpowering accompaniment of the devastation of the Assyrian camp. In the aftermath of Assyrian depredations, God granted an astonishingly productive Year of Jubilee (Isa 37:30,31).

(NT) This "token", or sign, would have been the radiant Glory in the face of Jesus on the night of his arrest. Those who came to the garden to arrest him did see it, and "went backward and fell to the ground" (Joh 18:6; cp Psa 27:1,2; 42:11). And this in turn became an earnest of the shame of all Jerusalem when the Lord's resurrection was proclaimed (Act 2:37; Mic 7:10).

COMFORTED: The LXX has parakaleo, ie the Comforter, or the Holy Spirit.

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