PSALM 86 TALK: A PRAYER THAT USES THE REVEALED LOVING CHARACTER OF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

PSALM 86 TALK: A PRAYER THAT USES THE REVEALED LOVING  

                   CHARACTER OF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

 (A Psalm that explores a prayer of an ancient Hebrew to a unique God of love revealed to him through the bible and his own wonderful experience of trusting in that God to help deliver him from his many arrogant and vicious enemies.)

 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

While I was away recently for 10-week trip to Europe I read a post on Face book that referred to an article in The Christian Post about how 12 Christian missionaries were tortured and executed by IS jihadist terrorist in Aleppo Syria because they refused to renounce Christ and convert back to Islam. These so called devout followers of God who they call Allah even cut off the finger tips of a twelve year old boy in the presence of his father before they crucified both the father and his son and two other Christian workers. Even the most horrific criminal in the so-called Christian west would not have anything done to them like these faithful Christian missionaries had done to them in punishment for their so called crimes. It seems that their bible, called the Koran teaches that for believing in a different view of God than it presents deserver’s public torture and painful execution without any form of mercy and love.

The point of my telling of this sad and disturbing true story is that to say we pray to God for help and deliverance is not enough today because there are many so called God’s that people pray to that are very different than the God of the bible. Psalm 86 has much to say about prayer and also about how different the God of the bible actually is. Verse 8 says,

“Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours”.

 The Christian missionaries in Aleppo refused to deny who they believed is the God of the Bible and the article went on to say,

“As IS continues to gain control of more areas in Syria, more former Muslims are at risk of being killed and brutalized by the terror group for violating the caliphate’s apostasy law. But according to the ministry director, such threat of persecution is not stopping Muslims from turning to Jesus”.

 A women in Aleppo Syria who was tortured and then beheaded was praying loudly as her merciless executioners went about their barbaric business and just before she died she was reported as saying, “Jesus” with what seemed to the many local witnesses as a smile on her face.

Psalm 86 is a Psalm that teaches us much about desperate prayer for help and even more about the loving God of the bible who listens to such prayers and surely answers them. Maybe God answered that Christian Missionary women’s prayer in Aleppo Syria with a wonderful vision of The Risen Lord Jesus as she was going to be with him in heaven forever.

Psalm 86 is also unusual as it is not what we call an original piece of writing but as Steven J. Cole puts its, is a,

“Mosaic, piecing together verses and phrases from other psalms and Scriptures”.

 The Hebrew heading calls this Psalm a prayer of David and most of the verses and phrases of this Psalm come from Psalms previously written by David. This means the author is either David himself using previous material he had written to pray a new prayer for deliverance from his enemies or it is written by another person who knew extremely well the Psalms of David and who composed a prayer using verses and phrases from David’s Psalms. Leopold points out that both possibilities are quite acceptable and points out that,

Even Christ himself frequently quoted or re-employed materials that had been used by him in other connections”.

 Also Christ adapted portions of scripture on many occasions in his preaching and no doubt prayers. For example when confronted by the temptations of the devil in the wilderness he quoted scripture in answer to the devils temptations.

In preparation study for this talk I read a lot of material on the subject of using the bible as an aid in prayer and I like what John Piper wrote on this,

“The bible holds my attention because I’m looking at it and reading it. And it gives me biblical things to pray for so that I’m not praying with empty and vague requests like “God bless them” and “God bless that.” Rather, I’m asking for specific things that the Bible commands”.

Another important fact to consider is that the Old Testament believers even in the time of Christ (except for Paul and some of the apostles) did not have easy access to the written words of the bible as the bible was written on large scrolls mainly kept in the Temple and later in Synagogues.

What happened was that all Jewish children attended school at the Synagogue or Temple and were taught to memorize the bible and particularly the book of Psalms. This means that the writer of Psalm 86, if it was not David, could have simply been a well taught Jewish man who knew by heart the words of David’s Psalms and simply as he prayed and recorded his prayer in a Psalm unconsciously drew on words of the God of the bible.

I had a good friend at Bible College who grew up in a strict Brethren family and had by his teenage years memorized the entire book of Psalms just like many of the pre- book publishing Jewish boys would have done in their time.

We all now have free access to the God of the bible and I hope that through this study I will be able to point you to that God and his amazing love and encourage you to trust and believe in him and lead you to be able to boldly pray to him for help and assistance in your daily lives.

One last piece of introductory information on this Psalm concerns its unique structure. Allan Harman describes this unique structure this way,

“It is composed in a symmetrical manner, five stanzas, with the first and last having four verses and the others each being 3 verses”.

 This helped me to come to my breakdown of this Psalm coupled with the major theme of using the revealed loving character of the God of the bible in our prayers.

  1. (1 – 4) A CRY FOR HELP TO THE GOD OF THE BIBLE
  1. (5 – 7)  THE REVEALED CHARACTER OF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE
  1. The revealed character of God (vs. 5)
  2. How God’s revealed character helps our prayers (vs. 6 – 7)
  1. (8 – 10) THE UNIQUENESS OF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE
  1. The unique God and Lord of the world (vs. 8 – 9)
  2. This unique God is active in our world (vs. 10)
  1. (11 – 13) A PRAYER FOR GUIDANCE TO THE GOD OF THE BIBLE
  1. Teach me your way (vs. 11)
  2. Thanks for God’s love for us (vs. 12 – 13)
  1. (14 – 17) A FINAL CALL FOR DELIVERANCE TO THE GOD OF THE  

               BIBLE

  1. The writers actual problem (Vs. 14)
  2. The writers request based on the revealed word of God
  1. (1 – 4) A CRY FOR HELP TO THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

 The writer of Psalm 86 uses the first stanza of four verses to express two things, first five cries to God for help and secondly each cry for help is qualified by a reason why he believes the God of the bible will answer him.

These five cries and qualifications are:

  1. “Hear me” qualified by the words, “I am poor and needy” (vs. 1)
  2. “Guard my life”, qualified by the words, “For I am devoted to you”

(vs. 2a)

  1. “Save your servant”, qualified by the words, “ Who trusts in you”

(vs. 2b)

  1. “Have Mercy”, qualified by the words, “For I call to you all day long”

(vs. 3)

  1. “Bring joy to your servant”, qualified by the words, “For to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (vs. 4)

 Lets then have a closer look at each of these five requests and their qualifying statements and see like the rest of the Psalm that they all come from the revealed word of God, which we call today the bible.

  1. “Hear me” qualified by the words, “I am poor and needy” (vs. 1)

 The opening call to God “Here, O Lord” is an expression or a similar expression used in many Psalms like Psalm 17 which opens with a similar plea to God,

“Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea: listen to my cry”.

 Where as Psalm 86 opens with this cry for help saying,

“Here, O Lord, and answer me”.

 Not that David or any other bible believing Hebrew would have doubted that God would hear them but they did not take this fact of faith for granted. Sometimes when I attend prayer meetings or hear prayer said in churches I sometimes visit I get the impression that true believers can just waltz into the presence of God and even demand God to listen to them and give them what they want.

No this Psalmist knew his bible he approached God with both reverence and humility trust in his Lord and seeking his very real help in prayer. As the writer to the Hebrews advices in Hebrews 12: 28 – 29

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire”.

As we will see later there should be a certain kind of fear or respectful reverence for God as we speak to him.

This request for God to hear him is qualified by the words,

“For I am poor and needy”

These words demonstrate this Psalmist humility and if it is David it is truly remarkable for he was king of Israel and as king he would have been rich and powerful yet he says he is “poor and needy”.

Allan Harman points out that this expression of David being “poor and needy” is common in the Psalms and refers to the following references, Psalm 35: 10, 37: 14, 109: 16 and 22, all Psalms of David.

So why did David as rich and powerful as he was consider himself as poor and needy?

The obvious answer is that David might have been materially rich and powerful but spiritually before God and physically in the face of his many enemies, he was poor and needy. Alan Harman speaks of the use of the expression, “poor and needy” this way,

“It’s use here stems from a sense of great urgency. The psalmist’s condition is the basis of his request”.

Twice in David’s life his enemies literally made him materially poor and needy, when he was chased by King Saul for eight years or so and when, in later life he was forced to flee for his life with his family and friends numbering over 600 people into the desert area of southern Judah when his son Absalom led a rebellion against him.

No matter who we are or what we have done in this life we are all sinners before God and therefore we are all poor and needy. A friend recently told me that his former girlfriend who worked for British airways heard of a famous singer of the 1970’s getting on a plane in economy class and demanded the hostess move him without charge to first class. When the hostess refused to co- operates he said to her, “don’t you know whom I am”. The hostess then got on the planes broadcasting system and announced,

“Would someone please come to the front of the plane and help one of our passengers work out who he is”?

Pop stars, Millionaires, Kings or princes all will stand before God in the same boat, sinners in need of the forgiveness of Christ.

Why will God hear the prayers of the poor and needy?

The simple answer is the bible tells us so and there is no better run down of that than what I discovered in my study of this question from a book written by John Bunyan called, “Instruction to the Ignorant” I learnt this,

  1. God answers the prayers of the poor and needy – Psalm 34: 6.
  2. The poor and needy are those who recognize that they are poor in spirit or are spiritually poor – Matthew 5: 3.
  3. We know if we recognize that we are poor in spirit by the way we seek the things of God that prepare us for the Kingdom of God – Matthew 6: 33 – 34.
  4. Those things are a new heart, the Holy Spirit in our lives that will lead us to sanctification – James 2: 5, 2 Thes. 2: 16 and 2 Cor. 5: 17.
  1. “Guard my life”, qualified by the words, “For I am devoted to you”

(vs. 2a)

As I have already pointed out this Psalm is a Mosaic of verses and phrases from previous Psalms and other scriptures and the concept of asking for God to guard our life is found in Psalm 25 verse 20, which reads,

“”Guard my life and rescue me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you”.

 Psalm 25 is a Psalm of David written in his later years, which means if this Psalm was written by David and he is drawing on this Psalm for inspiration for Psalm 86 then it also was written in his later years and also after the very dangerous time of the rebellion of Absalom. No matter when it was written and who it is written by we know from verse 14 of this Psalm that the writer faced the attack of a group of arrogant and ruthless men and he needed God’s special protection at that time.

The qualification or reason why the writer could ask for this protection from God was,

“For I am devoted to you”

 This writer knew God’s covenant agreement and the protection it offered as we see from passages like Deuteronomy 28: 1 – 7,

“If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.

2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out”.

7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

Note how devotion to God and his covenant brings with it, among other things protection by God from our enemies or the enemies of God and this is why the writer of Psalm 86 can confidently ask for God’s protection and believe God will give it to him.

As Christians we are not under the old Mosaic covenant but a new covenant established by the Lord Jesus Christ his covenant is built on his death and resurrection and was spoken about by Zechariah the father of John the Baptist at his birth and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he said this about this new covenant Jesus was establishing in Luke 1: 68 – 79,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— 72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Note the often referred to promise of salvation from our enemies which is also part of the Mosaic covenant and was what the writer used as his qualification for God proving protection from his enemies. This new covenant that Jesus brings about, which is more correctly a fulfillment of the promise of the Old covenant also offers protection from our enemies which involves the enemies of sin, the Devil and those who oppose the God of the bible.

But why did God not give his devoted servants protection in Aleppo Syria from their Muslim enemies?

The truth is we must always look at the long -term view of life and God’s plan. Even many of the early followers of Jesus suffered martyrdom at the hands of their enemies and Christians right through the ages have suffered death at the hands of their enemies. However the bible teaches us that death is not the end and Jesus said in Matthew 10: 28,

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”.

The book of Revelation written by the apostle John late in his life when we believe Christian Martyrdom was rampant against followers of Jesus has much to say about the special place God holds in heaven for those who have suffered death at the hands of their enemies, like Revelation 6: 9 – 11,

‘When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been”.

Note these Christian martyrs are not like jihadist terrorist who mane and kill people but are simply killed, (verse 9)

“Because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained”.

Later in the book of Revelation in chapter 20 it speaks of Christian martyrs who were martyred by being beheaded, which happens to have be a favorite execution method of faithful Christians by jihadist terrorist’s and 20 verse 4 says,

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years”.

I have also read of many miraculous rescues of Christians facing persecution in the Muslim world but of course others have had to suffer terrible deaths but the death of the faithful Christian women in Aleppo Syria looking up to heaven and crying out “Jesus”, with a smile on her face as she was killed by her merciless enemies reminds me of the martyrdom of another loyal follower of Jesus in the New Testament, Stephen and Acts 7: 55 and 56 says,

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

  1. “Save your servant”, qualified by the words, “ Who trusts in you”

(vs. 2b)

The third prayer request appears in the second half of verse 2 and reads like this,

“You are my God: save your servant”.

 David certainly saw himself as a servant as recorded in Psalm 34: 22,

“The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him”.

 Other Psalm writers speak of David as the one taken from tending sheep to become God’s special chosen servant, like Psalm 78: 70 – 71 and in Psalm 89 verse 20, Ethan the Ezrahite speaks of David being a anointed king by Samuel to be the Lords servant.

David is king yet he is in the sight of God merely a servant. This interestingly is how Jesus saw himself throughout his earthly ministry as Mark records Jesus claiming in Mark 10: 45,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

 We too as followers of Jesus are called to be servants, as Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 4: 5,

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake”.

Even Jesus is telling his disciples to be servants of God like him in Mark 10: 45 because the incident that leads to Jesus saying these words is when the disciples ask for exalted positions in heaven and even argued with each other about such matters. Jesus is actually rebuking them with the words of Mark 10: 45 saying this is not the way of Jesus and his kingdom, Jesus came to serve not be serve they should therefore follow his example.

One of my favorite hymns, “The Servant King explains it so well,

From heaven you came, helpless babe,
Entered our world, your glory veiled;
Not to be served but to serve,
And give your life that we might live.
This is our God, the Servant King,
He calls us now to follow him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.

 There in the garden of tears,
My heavy load he chose to bear;
His heart with sorrow was torn,
‘Yet not my will but yours,’ he said.
This is our God, the Servant King,
He calls us now to follow him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.

 Come, see his hands and his feet,
The scars that speak of sacrifice,
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered.
This is our God, the Servant King,
He calls us now to follow him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.

 So let us learn how to serve,
And in our lives enthrone him;
Each other’s needs to prefer,
For it is Christ we’re serving.
This is our God, the Servant King,
He calls us now to follow him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.

 Steven J. Cole points out the significance of David or a writer using David’s words found in his Psalms asking God to save him,

“The fact that he cries out for God to save him shows that David knew he could not save himself”.

 This follows through to the qualifying statement of this request that simply says,

“Who trusts in you”

 It is not because he is good or righteous or deserving of being saved but rather because he trusts in God or has faith in God. This concept of being saved by faith is considered by some Christians to be a New Testament concept but over and over again we have seen it in the book of Psalms and way back to even Abraham is the idea of being saved by God through trust or faith in God, Genesis 15: 6,

“Abram (Abraham) believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness”.

 Paul picks up this verse and concept in his famous passage in Romans 4 about how we are saved by faith alone.

Even the great Abraham did not get God’s approval and help by his own works. It took the love of God possessed by faith for even Abraham to be saved and David knew this to in verse 2 of this Psalm when he prays,

“Save your servant who trusts in you”.

  1. “Have Mercy”, qualified by the words, “For I call to you all day long”

(vs. 3)

The theme or concept of a call for mercy is very prominent in the Psalms of David like we see in Psalm 57 verse 1,

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge”.

 Mercy or Grace or unmerited forgiving love from God was crucial for a man like David who committed the twin sins of adultery and Murder. David knew from God’s word that the God of the bible, the God of Israel was a God of mercy, a great God of love and he appealed many time to that God for mercy and forgiveness for his many great sins.

Psalm 51, which we believe is David’s prayer of confession to God after the prophet Nathan revealed to David that God knew about David’s great sins of adultery and murder starts with these words,

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions”.

 No other religion or faith presents this kind of view of God; to the Muslim, God is a God of vengeance and Judgment, to the Buddhist life in an cycle of many lives that can lead to a kind of place of eternal peace and the Hindu believes is Karma which is the idea that you reap what you sow and your bad deeds will one day come back on you.

But the God of the bible is a God of Love and in the New Testament we have a far clearer picture of this God of mercy and love in famous verses like John 3: 16, which simply says,

“”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

 Paul preached very clearly the Jesus Gospel message of God’s love and made it clear that we cannot save ourselves but are saved by the wonderful grace of God, Ephesians 2: 8 – 10,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

This gift of mercy is qualified simply by the fact that David or this Psalm writer calls on God for it,

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long”.

We cannot do anything to make God love us as Paul says it is not gained by our good works but is simply a gift of God. Therefore all we can do is believe in the clear promise of the word of God and call out to him for his gift of love. Even 700 years before Christ David knew this is how its works, his Psalm 51 is his desperate call or cry to God for God’s mercy and love to forgive his great sins of adultery and murder. He declares in Psalm 51 verse 14,

“Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness”.

Even though I don’t believe the western world is Christian I do believe it has been heavily influenced by this message of God’s mercy and love. Our courts give sentences that are just but are tempered by love and mercy and this comes from the influence of the message of the God of the bible. The middle east has a different bible and a different view of God and what is missing there is that God is a God not only of judgment but a God of Love and mercy and their law shows no mercy to a guilty person resulting in the barbaric practices of torture and painful executions.

In one sense some crimes deserve torture and painful execution but because Jesus, God’s perfect son who was innocent of any sin went to the cross a place of torture and painful execution to save us from our many sins then we follow his example the example of the God of the bible who we now call out to and seek to serve.

  1. “Bring joy to your servant”, qualified by the words, “For to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (vs. 4)

The final request in this opening stanza of this Psalm simply says,

“Bring joy to your servant”

 The request of ‘bring joy” is another favored expression in the Psalms and particularly the Psalms of David like, seen also in Psalm 51 verse 8,

“Let me hear joy and gladness let the bones you have crushed rejoice”.

 When David was writing Psalm 51 he was beset with the pain of guilt and using Australian slang we would say he was not a “happy chappy” but we know David was forgiven by God and went on to serve God in new way after he was forgiven praised God with great joy and conviction. The last verse of the next Psalm-to-Psalm 51, Psalm 52 reads like this,

“I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints”.

 David like Nehemiah (Neh. 8: 10) saw the joy of the Lord as his joy and shield or strength and David makes this clear in a wonderful statement of joy in Psalm 28 verse 7,

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him”.

There might be Christians in this world who give the impression that their faith in Christ leads them to appear serious and joyless but my experience is the opposite. My church is a place of joy and laughter and wherever I go in the world and join with other fellow Christian believers there is always fun and laughter as we serve and worship the same God of the bible who has liberated us from the pain and sadness of guilt and sin.

Paul often spoke of being joyful in the Lord and rejoicing in the Lord and he said something like this to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 17

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

 This request for joy in verse 4 is qualified by the words,

“For to you. O Lord. I lift up my soul”

 Lifting up his soul is another well -used expression of David, like the opening words of Psalm 25,

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul”.

 David was constantly under attack from his many enemies throughout his life and I have said before in other Psalm talks that this is because David was God’s special anointed Kings (Psalm 2) and to bring down David was to bring down God.

Yet David, in his darkest hours knew what to do, he knew that he needed to lift up his soul to God. This means he needed to go to God and give himself over to him, totally and God always lifted him up as he so beautifully expresses in the words of Psalm 40 verses 1 – 3,

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him”.

We too can have the same experience as David if we give ourselves over to the same God and reach out in faith to the God of the bible who has justified us through faith in his only son Jesus Christ as Paul writes in Romans 5: 1 – 5,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

  1. (5 – 7)   THE REVEALED CHARACTER OF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

 In second stanza of this Psalm we come to the crux of the Psalmist prayer and I believe the crux or central theme of its message to us. For here we see how this ancient Hebrew man trusted in and prayed to the revealed God of the bible.

I have broken this second section or stanza into two parts:

  1. The revealed character of God (vs. 5)
  2. How God’s revealed character helps our prayers (vs. 6 – 7)

 Lets look a little closer at each of these two parts.

  1. The revealed character of God (vs. 5)

 So far the mosaic pieces of scripture our writer of this Psalm has used have come from the Psalms of David now he draws on a central teaching of the Old Testament revelation of God found in Exodus 34: 6 – 7.

Verse 5 reads like this,

“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you,”

 Exodus 34: 6 – 7 reads like this,

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

A more thorough use of this passage is used in the Psalmist verse 15 of this Psalm,

“But you, O Lord, are compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness”.

David quotes directly from this passage in Psalm 103: 8 and in Psalm 145: 8, so he knew this passage and used it a number of times if we include other similar references to this passage in other known Psalms of David.

It is interesting that these verses are the only description of God Moses gives us when God comes close to him on the top of Mount Sinai. These words then reveal the essence of the God of the bible.

This one great God has 5 great characteristics:

  1. He is compassionate
  2. Gracious
  3. Slow to anger
  4. Abounding in love
  5. Faithful

Note none of these characteristics are those proclaimed by the jihadist terrorist or for that matter the Buddhist, Hindu or any other religious faith. Only an Old testament believing Jew or a bible believing Christian speaks of God this way. The Jew of course denies the New Testament claim that Jesus is the Son of God who made the way back to God by dying on the cross for our sins and in doing so revealed even more clearly those previous five characteristics of God.

Spurgeon sums it up this way,

“God does not dispense his mercy from a slender store which perchance may be so impoverished as to give out altogether, but out of a horn of plenty he pours forth the infinite riches of his mercy: his goodness flows forth in abounding streams towards those who pray and in adoring worship make mention of his name.”

 As I have already alluded to Jesus is the supreme revelation of God and of the five attributes God revealed to Moses of himself on Mount Sinai and John declares this fact in John 1: 14,

“The word (who is Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

  1. How God’s revealed character helps our prayers (vs. 6 – 7)

 Once the writer of Psalm 86 declares the character of the God of the bible who he is praying to he repeats his basic prayer again in verse 6,

“Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy”

 This is no coincidence as he has just reminded himself who he is praying to; a God who is forgiving and good and is abounding in love to all who call on him. So he calls on him again with renewed confidence that this God will answer him.

In verse 7 he applies this teaching from Exodus 34 to his more specific situation,

“In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me”.

 We learn in verse 14 that this day of trouble involves a vicious attack from ruthless arrogant men who seek to take his life. So the writer is not just saying pious words but looking to God for very real help.

That help he now believes will come because of what the God of the bible is like or has revealed he is like.

This faith or even confidence in God, which he has revealed about himself, is not just some kind of theological theory but is real and true and can be relied upon in the rough and tumble of everyday life.

The New Testament exalts us to have this kind of faith. I have two New Testament quotes here:

  1. Hebrews 11: 6

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”.

  1. 2 Corinthians 4: 13 – 14

“It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken. Since we have that same spirit to faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.

 So he writer of Psalm 86 in his second stanza has taken in a renewed vision of what he believes his God, the God of the bible is like and has applied that in his prayer and in doing so has gained great encouragement in taking his current desperate situation to God in prayer.

This is exactly what Paul told the Philippians to do in Philippians 4: 6 – 7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

  1. (8 – 10) THE UNIQUENESS OF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

 In the third stanza of his Psalm or prayer the writer turns to another great revealed truth about the God of the bible his uniqueness compared to other God’s or ideas about God.

I have broken this third section into two parts:

  1. The unique God and Lord of the world (vs. 8 – 9)
  2. This unique God is active in our world (vs. 10)

 Lets look a little closer at these two parts:

  1. The unique God and Lord of the world (vs. 8 – 9)

The writer here is probably referring to a number of Old Testament passages as he works through his prayer to God. We read in verse 8, these words,

“Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours”.

 There are two clear Old Testament references the writer of Psalm 86 could be referring to here. They are:

  1. Exodus 15: 11,

“Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory working wonders?”

And more likely,

  1. Deuteronomy 3: 24,

“Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?”

Both these passages and of course verse 8 of Psalm 86 spell out the utter uniqueness of the God of the bible. As I said before no other faiths or religion speak of a God who is both just and loving and who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

No other God is spoken about as having interviewed into human history and made a called a people to himself and has fought for those people to establish them in a land he prepared for them.

No other faith or religion speaks of their God becoming a human being to enter into our world to save us by dying for our sins on the cross. The Islamic faith rejects the idea of Jesus dying on the cross because even they cannot believe that God would do or at least allow that if he is truly God.

Yet that is what the bible says happened. Paul says is 2 Corinthians 5: 21,

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

Verse 8 of Psalm 86 boldly claims,

“No deeds compare with yours”

What God has done to save us is so amazing some have rejected it as impossible because it is so fantastic and mind blowing that it must be made up but who would make up such a thing. It is so amazing because the God of the bible is so amazingly loving and awesome in the true sense of the word.

This uniqueness of the God of the bible is right through the whole bible and finds its ultimate expression in the writing of the New Testament. The writer to the Hebrews puts it this way in Hebrews 2: 9,

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

Then the writer of Psalm 86 speaks of another unique fact about this God of the bible in verse 9,

“All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name”.

The uniqueness of the God of the bible being unlike any other God or idea about God is only possible because he is the one true God as we are told in a number of places in the Old Testament like Deuteronomy 4: 35,

“You were shown theses things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other”.

 And verse 39 of the same chapter,

“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below”.

 David also refers to this idea in his Psalm 22 and in verse 27, he writes,

“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him”.

 What then can me make of the start of verse 8, which says, “Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord?

I believe the “god’s” is speaking of fallen heavenly beings like Satan. There are a number of bible references that speak of a league of Angels who were involved in some kind of revolt in heaven, like Isaiah 14: 12 – 15,

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit”.

Note here that “morning star, son of the dawn” is believed to be the name “Lucifer” when translated in the Latin vulgate and other translations pick this up as well. Revelation 12: 9 speaks of the fall of Lucifer or Satan in very similar terms as Isaiah speaks of,

“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him”.

Paul speaks of our spiritual battle in this life as a battle with The devil, Satan or Lucifer and that it is a battle with earthly rulers and powers and against authorities and powers in Spiritual realms in Ephesians 6: 11 – 12,

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

Note carefully that Satan and his band of fallen angels are not God’s in the strict sense of the word as they, like us are created beings. They are more powerful than us and even today have some ability to operate in this world but they are not God eternal, the one great supreme God of Heaven and earth.

However the bible and even this verse 9 of Psalm 86 declares that everyone in heaven and earth will one day be brought to their knees including Satan and his followers and they will worship the one true God, the God of the bible,

“All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name”.

The New Testament speaks of this great coming event as well, like Philippians 2: 9 – 11.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

In another sense the concept of all the Nations coming and worshipping God is happening today as the Gospel message has gone out to all the world as Jesus commanded his disciples to do in Matthew 28: 19 – 20 and people from many different nations come to the God of the Bible through Christ and gather to worship him.

I have had the privilege of joining people from other nations other than my own to worship the God of the Bible and of course the work of taking the Gospel to the nations of the world continues and will continue up to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ that Philippians 2: 9 – 11 and other scriptures predict.

Why then does our Psalmist include in his prayer the concept of this uniqueness of the God he is praying to?

I believe he did this because he was centering his prayer on a big view of God he knew the bible presented so clearly to him.

I remember a teacher as Bible college saying, “If you think your faith is small or weak then get a bigger view of God’. You see if we have a small view of God we have a small faith but the bigger more biblical view of God will make our faith stronger and greater.

  1. This unique God is active in our world (vs. 10)

 The second line of thought in this third stanza of the Psalm or prayer spells out another great fact about the God of the Bible and that is he is not just a cold dead theological fact but a active and real God in our world in the past and today.

Verse 10 makes this clear when it says,

“For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God”.

 If we thought from verse 8 that this Psalmist believed there were many Gods this verse makes it clear that the God of the bible is God alone and he is active in our world. He says this by saying that the God of the bible is great and does,

“Marvelous deeds”,

 He hinted at this in the second part of verse 8, when he says,

“”No deeds can compare with yours”

 And he will tell us in the second half of verse 13,

“You have delivered me from the depths of the grave”.

 Other religions claim their God acts on their behalf as well but the God of the Bible is the God who is so actively involved in his world that he actually entered into it at one point of our worlds history to conduct a rescue mission for all mankind to rescue or save them from the results of their sin and rebellion.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews starts his letter with a clear description of God’s active involvement in our world before Christ came and then spells out how he became even more involved in our world when he sent Jesus, Hebrews 1: 1 – 3,

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

He makes this even clearer in the next chapter verse 9,

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

And God’s involvement in this world, his marvelous deeds did not stop when Jesus ascended into heaven because countless numbers of people have looked to the God of the Bible through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and have received his help and assistance in so many ways.

Even Jesus said in that great commission command to take the Gospel message to the world that he would be with us all the way, Matthew 28: 19 – 20,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Through the Holy Spirit Jesus is with us and even with each of us individually transforming our lives day after day unto we go to be with him in heaven forever as Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 3: 17 – 18,

 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.

  1. (11 – 13) A PRAYER FOR GUIDANCE TO THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

 In the fourth stanza of this Psalm or prayer the writer seeks God’s guidance to stay on tract in his day to day trusting the great God of the bible he has just reminded himself he is praying to with ever increasing confidence and faith.

I have broke this fourth section into two parts:

  1. Teach me your way (vs. 11)
  2. Thanks for God’s love for us (vs. 12 – 13)

So lest have a close look at these two parts.

  1. Teach me your way (vs. 11)

 It is not that the Psalmist who wrote this Psalm or prayer was not on tract in his devotion to the God of the bible but after reflecting on the God of the bibles uniqueness, power and deeds he asks that he might continue to be taught in the ways of the this great active loving God. He writes in verse 11,

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth”.

 This verse is almost identical to what David wrote in Psalm 27 verse 11,

“Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors”.

 It is interesting that the Psalm 27 version of this verse David links the need for the God of the bible to teach him his way to the problems caused by his oppressors. So maybe even here in Psalm 86 the writer has an eye on keeping on God’s right way as he struggles with the conflict of his oppressors that he makes clear in verse 14.

This verse reminds me of my favourite bible reference on guidance in Proverbs 3: 5 – 6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

The writer, to me is acknowledging the importance of sticking to the God found in the bible where of course we find the way of God and by, as Proverbs 3 verse 5 says, not leaning to our own understanding we instead follow the way of God set down in his word.

Psalm 119, which I look forward to seeking to open up one day is a Psalm devoted to the importance of the word of God and its enormous value in our daily lives. Here is just one reference from that great Psalm, Psalm 119: 9 – 16,

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.12 Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word”.

Jesus claimed that he was the way, truth and life in John 14: 6 and was the only way to God in heaven and so therefore we must know his word as he is God’s word become flesh John 1: 14.

Paul had much to say to Timothy, the young man he was training to take over the work he had started for the Lord. In 2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5 he commands Timothy to preach and teach the word of God even in the face of great opposition to this,

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”.

As part of this request for God to teach him his way he also asks God that he have an undivided heart,

“Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”.

Spurgeon picks up the connection between the opening statement of this verse and this second half of this verse with these words,

“Having taught me one way, give me one heart to walk therein”.

 Note the writer of Psalm 86 in this verse acknowledges that that walking in God’s way with an undivided heart leads to a fear of God’s name. This is not the, I am scared fear but the fear that acknowledges who God is, who we are before him and how we should rightfully respond to all that. Some call this kind of fear, reverence and Proverbs 1: 7 says,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (or Wisdom)

 As we come to terms with what the bible truly says about God and what we are really like compared to him then we can start to rightfully understand everything there is to know about this life and the life to come.

James gives us a summary of what having a God minded heart involves and what it leads to in James 4: 7 – 10,

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”.

  1. Thanks for God’s love for us (vs. 12 – 13)

The prayer for guidance in verse 11 leads the writer to a couple verses of promise to praise the God of the bible he has been praying to. So he moves away from petitions hear to praise. He has been giving God praise in his prayer in a sense already by the way his prayer has acknowledged who the God of the Bible is and what he is like and what he has been doing in our world.

Here in verse 12 he writes,

“I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever”.

 This verse is also very David like who often completes his Psalms with a word of praise after asking God to help him with problems in his life like attacks from his enemies as we read in Psalm 57 verses 9 and 10,

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”.

This promise to praise God appears more towards the middle of this Psalm and David even starts his Psalms with a promise to praise God like Psalm 34 verse 1,

“I will extol the Lord at all times his praise will always be on my lips”.

So David incorporated praise in his prayers to God even when he was asking God to help him. This is something I need to learn to do and become more thankful to God even when I am facing difficulties in my life.

Paul was keen to encourage all believers to praise God and give thanks to God in all circumstances as he says in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

The writer of Psalm 86 promise to praise is a total giving of himself, “my heart” to glorify the god of the bibles name forever. Paul says something like this in 1 Corinthians 10: 31,

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

In verse 13 the writer expresses why he personally should praise the God of the bible when he writes”,

“For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave”.

The writer of Psalm 86 is saying that God had heard his prayer for help before and in doing so had shown him great love in delivering him from what seemed like certain death.

This verse also could suggest the writer had faith in God to save him from eternal death as the grave represents the end of life for those without faith in the God of the bible.

Jesus offers all who look to him and put their faith in him the great hope of victory over the grave in verses like John 11: 25,

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”.

 This hope is what all Christians can take with them to the grave, as a funeral for a true Christian believer is not a tragedy of defeat but a time of praise and hope. I recently attended the funeral of lovely committed Christian women in our church. This women was well in her eighties so her funeral service was a celebration of a life of loving service for the Lord she loved and a positive reminder of where all believers are heading at the end of this earthly life.

Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 15: 55 – 57,

 “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

  1. (14 – 17) A FINAL CALL FOR DELIVERANCE TO THE GOD OF THE  

               BIBLE

 The fifth and final stanza of the Psalm or prayer sees the Psalmist make a final request for help and we are told for the first time in the Psalm the kind of difficulty the writer wants God to help him with.

I have broken this fifth and final stanza into two parts:

  1. The writers actual problem (Vs. 14)
  2. The writers request based on the revealed word of God (vs. 15 – 17)

 Lets take a closer look an each of these final two parts:

  1. The writers actual problem (Vs. 14)

The fifth and final stanza of four verses seems to be another call to God for help and deliverance and does offer us a insight into the actual problem this Psalmist is praying to God for and a good summary of what we have been learning throughout this Psalm.

Lets look then and what I see as the first part of this final section, verse 14, which is a final plea to God for help and in it we learn what kind of problem the Psalmist seems to be facing.

Verse 14, reads like this,

“The arrogant are attacking me, O God; a band of ruthless men seeks my life – men without regard for you”.

 The problem seems to be that this Psalmist is under physical attack by a “band” or group of men who he calls “arrogant” and “ruthless” that are seeking to take his life.

This situation relates so well to what I know about the life of David particularly during the early part of his life when he was attacked by King Saul who had turned his back on God and for eight years with a large army to support him sought to kill David and those who followed him.

Then in David’s later life, a more logical time frame, his very own Son, Absalom who also had an army who sought to kill David and those who supported him, attacked David. Absalom had also turned his back on God and had become both arrogant and ruthless.

So far as these men being “Arrogant” and “ruthless” I like Spurgeon’s comment here,

“Those who fear not God are not afraid to commit violent and cruel acts”.

 In the case of the IS jihadist terrorist they do not believe in the God of the bible and they believe that their scriptures tell them that those who do not conform to the God view and teaching of their Koran must die a violent torturous death with no mercy. This extreme view is not historically unusual and even in times long ago Christians who sought to be faithful to the God of the bible were executed by other so called Christians who held a different view than they had of the teaching of the bible.

I believe in both religious freedom and tolerance and even though I don’t agree with a Muslims view of God and how we come to know him I believe I must respect their views but in a free society have the opportunity to share what I believe and also have the opportunity for either of us to change our views if we feel led by God to do so.

Another growing “band” or “group” of arrogant and ruthless opponents of those who believe in the God of the bible in our society today are those who call themselves “Atheists” who claim there is no God and many of these want to now ban anybody believing in a God. They are often arrogant and ruthless in their attack of Christian believers. Some “atheists” believe that not only are Christians deluded but they are dangerous to society. This has led to a call for a change in religious freedom in the west and, even though they have not threatened physical violence yet, these people have verbally attacked many Christians.

Jesus warned of persecution for those who seek to follow and believe in the God of the bible.

Jesus gave his disciples this timely warning of the persecution they would face in the future on the night before his death on the cross in John 15: 18 – 25,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason”.

Jesus does not just tell his disciple they will face great opposition in the future in John 15 but also tells them he will provide assistance in the face of this great opposition. He speaks of the help he will give them through the coming of the Holy Spirit to them in John 15: 26 – 27,

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning”.

In chapter 14, Jesus says this about the “Advocate” or “Counselor” and some translation call him “The Comforter”, John 14: 15 – 21,

“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

 So far as the terrible attacks some Christians today are getting from these jihadist terrorist Jesus also warned his disciples of this kind of religious attack and offers a reason for it in John 16: 1 – 4,

“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you”.

Note how Jesus said, “anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God”. This is what jihadist terrorist believe that as they kill and torture Christians with no mercy they are offering service to God but note why they have this delusion in verse 3, “they will do such things because they have not known the Father or me”. Basically they do not know the true God of the bible.

Paul explains the big picture reason for this kind of opposition and offers us good advice in how to withstand it in Ephesians 6: 10 – 13,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand”.

 Paul then spells out what our spiritual armour is, Ephesians 6: 14 – 17,

“ Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”.

Note how each of these pieces of spiritual amour is connected to God’s word, the bible, “Truth” is found in the bible, “Righteousness” is found in living the way God sets down in the bible, “The Gospel of peace” is found in the bible and finally, “Faith” should be founded on the teaching of the bible. Finally the only weapon we use is the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.

Paul concludes this run down on how we can fight against the great Spiritual forces we face with a word on the place and function of prayer in Ephesians 6: 18,

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”.

The best way we can pray in the Spirit is by praying using the bible that the Holy Spirit inspired to write in the first place.

  1. The writers request based on the revealed word of God (vs. 15 – 17)

 All through this Psalm or more helpfully prayer the writer has referred to his understanding of God, which I have said over and over again only comes form what we call today the bible. I believe all other non – bibles faiths get there inspiration from mans natural view of God which we have seen is surprisingly different from the reveal character and attitude of the God of the bible.

In these last three verses and particularly verse 15, the writer appeals to God inspired by what God has revealed about himself and this I believe should act as a model in our prayers and day to day faith in God.

Verse 15 is an even clearer use of Exodus 34: 6 – 7 than verse 5 when we saw him drawing on the words and teaching of this bible reference. Let me remind you what these verse in Exodus 34 actually say before I quote verse 15,

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Verse 15 says,

“But you, O Lord, are compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness”.

The writer really believes what he has learnt form his holy scriptures about what God is like and is applying this to his prayer request to God for deliverance from his enemies.

While I was away recently with my wife and sister in law on a trip through Europe we visited a very old church in England and on the front of the church was the words of the Ten Commandments. My sister in law who is not a believer but has shown some interest in the Christian faith read some of the words of the second commandment found in Exodus 20: 4 and 5,

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”.

She told me as we left the church she was a taken a back by the words of this commandment that speak of God being jealous and punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me. She said,

“That does not seem very fair”.

I did not have a good answer for her at the time but after returning from our trip I looked up the words of this commandment in Exodus 20 and noted the words of the next verse, verse 6,

“But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”.

God should not love even those who turn to him but he does and we know this was made possible by the great sacrifice his son made to pay for our sins, Galatians 3: 13 – 14,

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit”.

So the God of the bible will punish all people who “hate” him or who reject him as their God and this usually means that those who hate God pass on to their children the same views of God and so this punishment will extend into generations.

However the big difference of the God of the bible is that he will show love to far more generations to those who love him and of course who accept his payment for their sins in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In my experience my parents did not love and serve God and my fathers father died a man who hated God and those who followed him. My father believed much the same thing but did mellow in his beliefs over the years, as I was able to witness to him. However God called me and revealed his love to me and I broke the chain of punishment for sins for my generation and I hope for many generations to come.

Because of the wonderful revelation of God in history, particularly through the coming of Jesus recorded in the bible we can confidently come to God in prayer just like the Psalmist did in Psalm 86.

This is part of the wonderful teaching of the book of Hebrews, as we read in Hebrews 4: 16,

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

The writer of Psalm 86 was approaching the throne of Grace or love in his time of great need and in the last two verses he asks God for:

  1. Mercy, strength and salvation (verse 16)
  2. A sign of God’s goodness to put to shame his enemies (verse 17a)
  3. A acknowledgement of God’s previous help and comfort (verse 17b)

Lets look then a little closer at these three things the writer of Psalm 86 asks for:

  1. Mercy, strength and salvation (verse 16)

Here again this writer does not take God’s help for granted but like David did in Psalm 25: 16, he asks God to,

“Turn to me and have mercy on me”

 This writer knew he did not deserve God’s love as he uses the word ‘mercy” when he asks for God’s help. Mercy in the New Testament is “grace” or love we do not deserve. As Paul famously speaks of in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”.

The writer of Psalm 86 has just indicated the type of God he believes in and is praying to in verse 15. He is a God of compassion and loving faithfulness a God so different than any other God in any other faith than those that truly come from the bible.

He then acknowledges his weakness and great need when facing such a powerful enemy, which he spoke about in verse 14 and asks God,

“Grant your strength to your servant”

I love David’s Psalm, Psalm 61 and particularly the words of verses 2 and 3,

“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge a strong tower against the foe”.

 The great King David knew his weaknesses and acknowledges here just as the writer of Psalm 84, possibly also David that he need the strength of God, which he calls in Psalm 61, “The rock higher than I”.

When I was studying Psalm 61 last year my wife and I were going through a very difficult time with lots of close family members suffering serious illness all at the same time. Psalm 61 really ministered to me and eventually inspired me to compose a wonderful song and the chorus of that song simply says,

“Lead me, Lead me

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I

Help me, Help me,

Help me stand the storms of life I cry.

All of our close family members except for my wife’s mother fully recovered and my wife and I looked to God for strength and help during the time of her funeral and the grief her loss.

 Finally the writer of Psalm 86 in verse 16 asks for salvation or more particularly in his case deliverance.

“And save the son of your maidservant”.

 The writer appeals to God yet again in this Psalm or prayer for deliverance of salvation from his many enemies. He calls himself in this appeal for deliverance,

“The son of your maidservant”,

 Most commentators I read on this speak of the writers description of himself here as a reference to the idea that he is the son of Israelite believing parents and that particularly his mother was a faithful believer in the God of the bible.

As I mentioned before my father came from a long line of non – believers and I broke that line to my wider families shame. However my mother in her teenage years seems to have had some involvement in a part of the Sydney evangelical scene of her time and even though because she chose to marry my father, a strong non believer she encouraged my brother and sisters and me to at least attend Sunday School and through this first contact with bible believing Christians I began an interest in the Christian Gospel accepting Christ as my savior and Lord in my early teenage years.

This means I did not have the privilege I having the influence of s Godly mother but many others like Timothy in the bible owe a lot to the teaching, piety and prayers of a Godly bible believing mother. Paul says this about the influence of Godly Grandmothers and mothers in 2 Timothy 1: 5,

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you”.

 This man, who maybe is David benefited from God’s promise found in his word, in the 10 Commandments that says,

“But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”.

  1. A sign of God’s goodness to put to shame his enemies (verse 17a)

As I said before this writer who is praying to the God of the bible believes this same God is active in human history and the first statement of verse 17 is yet further evidence of this, he writes,

“Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame”,

 David, who could be our mystery author asked twice before in two other Psalms something similar to this, Psalm 40: 3 and Psalm 35: 4 and I would like to quote the latter,

“May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay”.

 Here David wants the God of the bible to act in his life to deliver him from his enemies so that those who oppose him and his God be disgraced or put to shame. This is the same thing the writer of Psalm 86 is asking for in the first part of verse 17 by asking for a sign that will lead to his enemies being put to shame.

He wants God to intervene into the affairs of man concerning the ruthless arrogant deeds of his enemies towards him and his God. We know from the book of Samuel that God did just that for David on many occasions particularly through the hard eight years or so of Saul’s attempts to destroy David and through the many weeks of his Son Absalom rebellion in David’s later years.

The God of the bible that people like David and the writer of this Psalm believed in is the same God who sent Jesus into this world to bring about our salvation. As Paul says in Colossians 1: 13 – 14,

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”.

God has given us in Christ more than a sign of his goodness and love he has delivered us from our great enemies of sin, the devil and all who oppose him, sometimes called “the world” through the victory over these three enemies Jesus achieved on the cross.

This same God of the bible can and does act in our world to help and protect his people and even when it seems like he has not done this, for instance in the case of those 12 brave Christian missionaries in Aleppo Syria who were martyred for their faith in Christ. For them he has taken them to be with him in glory forever and their witness and story has helped other non believers come to know his love and eventually enjoy the same blessing of eternal life they now are experiencing.

  1. A acknowledgement of God’s previous help and comfort (verse 17b)

This writer of Psalm 86 completes his Psalm or prayer for deliverance from his enemies with a positive word of testimony,

“For you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me”.

 This reminds me of a Psalm of David, Psalm 34 where David offers a great and powerful word of testimony as we read in verses 4 – 6,

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears, Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame, This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles”.

 I don’t think the writer of Psalm 86 has been delivered from the attack of his enemies when he was writing this Psalm but he is remembering as he closes his prayer that in the past God had helped him and comforted him and this also gives him confidence to trust in his God, the God of the bible.

As Christians we have the same sure hope of salvation that comes from the same God of the bible that the writer of Psalm 86 had. Let me close with one last great New Testament reference that speaks of the certain hope we too have of Salvation and access to God in heaven, Hebrews 6: 19 – 20,

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf”.

I close as usual with a poem and a prayer:

CLOSE TO YOU LORD

(Based on Psalm 86)

 

Hear me O Lord above

Mighty God of love

Save now my life

And free my strife.

Help me to walk your way

Following your word each day

So I might always stay

Close to you Lord.

 

Have mercy on me O Lord

Help me to trust your word.

Lift up my soul

And make me whole.

Give me your joy and power

Help me live each hour

That I might rise and flower

Close to you Lord.

 

You are a God of Love

O mighty Lord above

Hear now my prayer

For I know you care

Oh God I need your grace

To help win the fight I face

May I now run your race

Close to you Lord.

 

There is no God like you

Your deeds are clear and true.

Help me to see

That you care for me.

For you sent down your son

To die for everyone

Who turns to him to come

Close to you Lord.

 

Turn to me God of grace

Help me to surely face

Those who deny

That you do live on high.

Give me your strength to live

You’ve saved me for you forgive

Help me now Lord to live

Close to you Lord.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Hear me Father in heaven for I need your help and strength in the great spiritual battle of this life. Help your church here on earth to trust and believe in your clear and certain revelation of yourself in your word. May we focus on the revelation of your love for us in sending your only Son to this world to die for our sins on the cross. Help us then to trust in your risen son to fight against the sin and the devil and to do this by always walking close to you all the days of our lives. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 

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