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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 86

Verses 1-10

1. A request for protection 86:1-10

David appealed to God for preservation as a dependent, needy believer who sought to walk in trust and obedience with his God. He viewed God’s granting of his request as based on His grace, not something God owed him. He looked forward to rejoicing when the answer came.

"Hope begins with submitting oneself fully to the protection of God." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 557.]

David’s attitude of humility comes through in the terms he used in addressing God in this psalm. Seven times he called God his Lord or Master (Heb. adonay), a title that stresses His sovereignty over David (Psalms 86:3-5; Psalms 86:8-9; Psalms 86:12; Psalms 86:15). This Hebrew title appears as "Lord" in most English translations whereas "Yahweh" translates as "LORD."

The psalmist was sure God would respond to his prayer (Psalms 86:7). The basis of his confidence was the fact that Yahweh is the only God and that He does great things.

Verses 1-17

Psalms 86

On the basis of God’s goodness, David asked the Lord to demonstrate His strength by opposing the proud who exalted themselves against him. This is the only psalm ascribed to David in Book 3 (Psalms 73-89). It is an individual lament psalm that speaks out of a situation of disorientation. It is a virtual mosaic of other psalms, and its quotations are almost verbatim.

Verses in Psalms 86Similar verses elsewhere
Psalms 86:1Psalms 17:6; Psalms 31:2; Psalms 35:10; Psalms 37:14; and Psalms 40:17
Psalms 86:2Psalms 25:20
Psalms 86:3Psalms 57:1-2
Psalms 86:5Exodus 34:6
Psalms 86:6Psalms 28:2
Psalms 86:7Psalms 17:6; and Psalms 77:2
Psalms 86:8Psalms 35:10; Psalms 71:19; Psalms 89:6; Exodus 8:10; Exodus 9:14; and Exodus 15:11
Psalms 86:10Psalms 72:18; and Psalms 77:13-14
Psalms 86:11Psalms 27:11
Psalms 86:12-13Psalms 50:15; Psalms 50:23; Psalms 56:13; and Psalms 57:9-10
Psalms 86:16Psalms 25:16

Verses 11-13

2. A request for greater understanding 86:11-13

David’s request to know God’s way more fully is typical of the desire of any sincere believer who wants to walk humbly and obediently with his God (cf. Exodus 33:13; Philippians 3:8-10). The motive behind this request was God’s glory (Psalms 86:12). The psalmist appreciated God’s present loyal love for him and His spiritual salvation.

Verses 14-17

3. A request for strength 86:14-17

David’s actual complaint appears in Psalms 86:14. Rebels against God and His anointed king were harassing David. He contrasted their characters with God’s. Specifically, David needed strength of all kinds to deal with these opponents. The sign he requested would have been some physical, tangible proof that God was supporting His servant. God’s deliverance would constitute such a sign.

This is a prayer for help from a very mature believer. David’s understanding of God resulted in his taking a humble place of submission to His Lord. His confidence during his trial was strong because he knew how great and loyal God is. Rather than exhibiting panic in the face of danger, David demonstrated peace, confidence, and even joy.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 86". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-86.html. 2012.