Psalm 86

The Psalms

Our God who answers prayer

Psalms index

Psalm 86

1 A prayer of David.

Hear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. 3 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. 4 Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. 6 Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. 7 In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.

8 Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10 For you are great and do marvellous deeds; you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name for ever. 13 For great is your love towards me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

14 The arrogant are attacking me, O God; a band of ruthless men seeks my life—men without regard for you. 15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant and save the son of your maidservant. 17 Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.


Psalm 86 – Our God who answers prayer

(Verses 1-7) It is good when we view our sins and weaknesses to remind ourselves of God’s character and attitude toward us. David laments that he is ‘poor and needy’. He asks God to hear and answer him, guard him, save him, have mercy on him, and give him joy as he prays to Him. He sees a ’day of trouble’ ahead. If that happens, he can look back and remind himself that he did pray to God about all these needs. He also intertwines what he knows about God, both as the basis for his prayers, and as an encouragement that God will answer them. That is praying as it should be. What does he say about God?

The LORD is a personal God—David says, ‘You are my God’ and prays personal prayers to Him.

God is forgiving, good, abounding in love, merciful and answers prayer.

(Verses 8-10) Before continuing with other specific prayers, he worships God for truths about Him. This mix of who God is and David’s needs makes a perfect blend. He prays to his living God who can and will answer him. We should pray like he does. He extols God’s following attributes:

  • God is unique.
  • His deeds are incomparable.
  • He merits the nations’ worship.
  • He is great—and alone is God.
  • His deeds are also marvellous.

(Verses 11-13) This leads to two more linked requests: he asks God to teach him His way so he can walk in His truth; and he wants an undivided heart to fear God’s name, to praise Him from his heart and glorify His name forever. He reminds himself again of God’s love toward him, and how He has acted to save David before. We pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, who bled and died on the cross. He was punished for our sins. He rose again to be the living Saviour of all who repent and trust in Him. We know that He loves and cares for us. If, like David, we pray selfless prayers that honour God, He will answer positively, bless us, and others through us

(Verses 14-17) David now prays in more detail—a good way to pray. Detailed prayer means detailed blessing! He prays for God to defend and protect him from ruthless attackers, out to kill him. He counts on God’s compassionate and gracious character. He asks for mercy and strength to save him, and that God will shame his foes, help and comfort him. Our God wants to hear us and will answer!