Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day. (Psalm 86:1-3 ESV)
Psalm 86 is a simple prayer of David to His God. It seems not to be borne out of harsh difficulty or dramatic circumstances, but rather it came from David’s heart on what we might call a normal day. Pressures were still there in his life, for in it he says in it, “A band of ruthless men seek my life” (v. 14), but that could have come from any number of sources. It appears at least to me that that was just another day in the life of David. Ruthless men were always seeking his life.
But whether in the midst of difficulty or not, the prayer in its essence was about David and his God - he prayed from the assurance of his relationship with God. The trouble he mentioned did not dominate the prayer. David called out to his God constantly. His thoughts in the midst of any circumstance reached out to God. He lived his life in faith and with the awareness of God.
We may establish the habit of thinking about God regularly and it being poor thoughts about Him. We may forget how merciful and gracious and faithful God is, and focus mostly on His sternness and holiness or judging qualities. But David knew that God was best understood by His “steadfast love” (vs. 13), or chesed, toward David. So this was the thought of God that he treasured in his heart all the day long.
We find an insight into David’s life by the mentioning of his mother and her faith:
Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant. (vs. 16)
The scripture never mentions the name of David’s mother. His father Jesse was the grandson of Ruth, the widowed Moabite and woman of faith whom Boaz redeemed. Perhaps it was Ruth that David had in mind, for the word ben in Hebrew could also mean grandson. But it speaks not merely of genetics or lineage but of the tender conveyance of faith that was passed down to David.
The account of David’s anointing in 1 Samuel 16, suggests at least that David’s father Jesse did not think much of David. He was the youngest of his sons and Jesse left him to tend to the sheep when Samuel came to his home to anoint the next king. And his brothers also had a problem with him, as revealed in the account of David and Goliath. It does not appear to be anything more than typical family rankings, and the normal squabbling that happens between brothers, but, nevertheless, it was there. I tend to think that here David is speaking about his mother who was a woman of devout faith He called her the “maidservant” of God - someone devoted, ready to serve her God. Often the unnamed people of history, even of sacred history, have done more to shape its outcome than the famous ones. There is no disgrace in obscurity, no indignity in being unknown by mankind, so long as we are known by God and have sway and power with heaven.
Great meaning and profound strength are discovered very often in the simple truths and simple realities of life. These thoughts are worth being in our minds and in our prayers everyday, as they are here in the prayer of David.
- The steadfast love of God
- The example of piety and faith - “Frömmigkeit” auf Deutsch - that is seen in those close to us
- The privilege of prayer and the closeness of God to us at all times
- The assurance of relationship with God
These truths ought to surround our hearts at all times and in every circumstance.