A PRAYER FOR HELP
“Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” (1).
Read Psalm 86
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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThis psalm is called “A prayer of David.” Could you insert your name there as well?
Most of the psalms around this point in the book of Psalms seem to reflect a time of trouble in Israel. Perhaps it was the time of Exile, causing people to long for God’s presence among them. Today’s psalmist is also reaching out to God for help. In this psalm there is a strong sense of confidence that God will hear and help. Overall the psalm is not specific about the nature of any of the problems. But that actually helps us as readers today since it means we can relate it to our own situations too.
Verse 1 describes the psalmist as “poor and needy.” This is also a non-specific phrase: does it mean spiritually needy, or is it referring to physical distress? The response focuses on the need for joy and forgiveness at first (4, 5), and then moves on to enemies who are “arrogant” (14) later. So the needs seem to be both spiritual and practical. This is common in the Old Testament where the spiritual and the physical were seen as two sides of the same coin.
Notice that the psalmist does not spend time blaming others for any misfortune. Rather, the prayer is to learn God’s ways so that a life of truthfulness can be lived (11).
Is God the first one you call on when you are in distress? Write down the phrase: “Tell God first.” Post the note where you can see it. Remind yourself to go to God first when questions and troubles come.
“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (11).