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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms
Psalms 86

 

 

Verses 1-17

Psalm 86:1-17. Title. It is not certain, whether David offered this prayer when persecuted by Saul, or when driven out of the land by Absalom; though the latter seems most probable.

V:1 , 2. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 16 , 17. Psalm 34:1-6. Matthew 5:3.) " All prayer is founded on a sense of our own wants, " tnd God"s ability to supply them. In the sight of his Maker, every sinner is " poor and needy," and he must become so in his own, that his petitions may be regarded; he must pray with the humility and importunity of a starving beggar, at the gate of heaven, if he expect the great King to " bow down his ear, and hear hm." " Bp. Home. Holy. (2) " One whom thou favourest, (marg.) hast set apart for thyself, and made partaker of sanctifying grace : " one who has found favour and learned mercy. It is the same word as in the sixteenth Psalm is translated " holy " One," and it is generally rendered " a saint." When St. Paul spoke of himself, as " less than the least of all " saints; " Hebrews , as David does here, united the deepest poverty of spirit, with the fullest confidence that he was in a state of grace, and an accepted servant of God. (Marg. Ref. Note, Ephesians 3:8.)

V:3- 5. David prayed not only every day, but all the day, that Isaiah , frequently, constantly, and importunately : (Notes, Psalm 25:4-5. Luke 18:1-8 :) and he not only lifted up his voice, but his soul, his most earnest desires, unto God : (Notes, Psalm 25:1. 1 Samuel 1:12-16, v15 :) and therefore he expected that he should, and prayed that he might, be made joyful by an answer to his supplications because, though conscious of sin in many instances, yet he firmly believed that God was abundantly kind, propitious, and compassionate to all who thus called on him. (Marg. Ref. Note, 14 , 15.) Thou " art no less bountiful...than I am indigent; ready also to pardon those " that have offended thee; yea to shew abundant kindness " to every one of them in their greatest distress, when with " unfeigned devotion they call upon thee." Bp. Patrick.

V:6-8. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalm 50:7-15. Psalm 91:14-16. Psalm 130:1-4.) The Gentiles indeed might call on their gods, and yet perish in their perils and miseries; as the objects of their idolatry had no power to save them : but the God, whom David worshipped, was not like them, but infinitely powerful as well as merciful; and his former works for hi people encouraged the expectation of effectual aid to all his upright worshippers. (Notes, Exodus 15:11. Deuteronomy 32:30-31; Deuteronomy 33:26. 2 Kings 19:14-19. Isaiah 40: 18-20, 25, 26. Jeremiah 10:16.)

V:9 , 10. Probably David hoped, that God"s interposition in his behalf, and the celebration of his glory and wonderful works by him and his subjects, would bring many of the neighbouring nations to renounce idolatry and worship the Creator : but " the Spirit of God which spake " by him, and whose words were on his tongue," evidently predicted the calling of the gentiles by the gospel, and the universal prevalence of Christianity. The original is expressly a prediction; and is generally so translated. "This proveth that David prayed in the name of... the Messias, " of whose kingdom he doth here prophesy."

(Notes, Psalm 22:27-31; Psalm 72:8-11; Psalm 72:17-19. Isaiah 2: 2- 5; 11: 6- 9; 43: 8-13. Jeremiah 10:6-11. Revelation 11:15-18; Revelation 20:1-6.) Alone. (10) Notes, Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Deuteronomy 32:37-39. Isaiah 44: 6-8. Revelation 1:8-11.

V:11. Unite, &c.] Naturally all the powers of our mind are " out of course." The judgment is darkened, the will perverted, and the affections, instead of cheerfully following the directions of the higher powers of the soul, tumultuate and rebel against them. The effect of grace Isaiah , to correct this disorder; and to subject the passions to the dominion of right reason, by subjecting the whole soul to tlie authority of God. But its operations are never in this world carried to perfection. Still the mind which loves God, and " delights in his law after the inner Prayer of Manasseh ," " finds another law" within "warring against the law" which it would fain obey. " It cannot therefore do the things *" which it would : " still the affections are apt to wander after forbidden objects; and too often the consent of the will Isaiah , for the time, drawn over to that which it habitually rejects. (Notes, Romans 7:15-25. Galatians 5:16-18.) The harmony of holiness is broken, or not yet perfectly restored : " the flesh lusteth against the spirit," and is contrary to it. Thus the heart is divided and an inward strife maintained, to the deep affliction of the believer who cries out, " Oh wretched man that I am ! " and at all times prays, " Unite my heart," so liable to distraction, so prone to division between God and the world, " to fear thy name." (Notes, Matthew 6:24. 2 Corinthians 11:16; 2 Corinthians 5:3.)

V:12 , 13. (Marg. Ref.) Many confine the meaning of these words to the imminent danger of death, from which God had delivered his servant. But probably David referred to the guilt of murder and adultery, which he had contracted, and which merited the severest vengeance, temporal and eternal : yet the Lord, of his great mercy, had pardoned these, as well as all his other sins, and had thus " delivered his soul from the lowest hell." It is the same word as is used concerning Christ, and translated hell. (Note, Psalm 16:8-11.) It means the invisible state, whether of the body in the grave, or of the soul in the world of spirits : but the word " lowest " greatly favours the latter interpretation. Some think that David here also spake as the type of Christ.

I will glorify thy name for evermore (12). Notes, Psalm 145:1-2. Psalm 146:2. I do now most thankfully acknowledge " thee; and will never cease to honour thee, and to do " thee service, so long as I have any being." Up. Patrick.

V:14 , 15. Many a time God had rescued his servant from the most extreme danger; but again he stood in urgent need of the same powerful aid. Absalom, Ahithophel, and the other conspirators, being proud, violent, cruel, and impious men, sought to murder him; and perhaps were encouraged to hope for success by an idea, that David"s crimes had provoked God to forsake him. (Note, Psalm 3:1-2; Psalm 71:10-11.) And indeed, David seems here to allow, that this would have been the case, had the Lord dealt with him in strict justice : but the abundant compassion, long-suffering, and mercy of God to the most guilty and miserable, and his faithfulness to his promises, gave the humble penitent a firm ground of confidence, that he was pardoned, and should be delivered from such haughty and impious assailants. (Marg. Ref5. Notes, Exodus 34:5-7. Lamentations 3:21-23. Micah 7:18-20. John 1:17.)

V:16. As thou O Lord, art a God full of compassion, mercy, and truth, for thy name"s sake both pardon my sins, and by thy strength uphold me in thy ways, and defend and save me from my powerful assailants." Psalm 143:10-12.) Tlieson o/ "thine handmaid."] David seems here to plead, that his pious mother had brought him up in the fear of God, and offered many prayers for him; and therefore he was devoted to him from his birth, and entrusted to his keeping, having been brought up as a servant in his family; as the children of the female slaves were brought up in their master"s family, were considered as his property, and were entitled to his protection. (Notes, Psalm 51:5-6. Psalm 116:16. 2 Timothy 1:3-5.) The Lord Jesus was the Son of her, who said, " Behold the handmaid of the " Lord, be it unto me according to thy word." ( Luke 1:33.)

V:17- Perhaps David hoped, that, if God would shew some evident token of favour, and so evidently interpose that all might see his determination to help and comfort his servant, even his virulent enemies might be put to shame, and brought to repentance, and so share the plenteous mercy of God. The resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit were " tokens for good " to the church; which put all those, who had crucified the Lord of glory, to shame and confusion, and many of them were likewise brought to repent and believe the gospel.

PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS

V:1-10.

The condescension of our God, in bowing down his ear to receive the prayers of us miserable sinners, is very wonderful : yet our very poverty and wretchedness, when felt and acknowledged, form a powerful plea at the throne of grace : and the greatest, and most powerful and prosperous, among the rulers of the world, must thus feel, acknowledge, and plead them in penitent faith, or their prayers will in no way resemble those of king David, or be accepted and answered, as his were. It is a great encouragement in prayer, to be conscious that we have experienced the converting grace of God, and have learned to trust in him and to be his servants : for, once we served other masters, and leaned on other dependences; but he has mercifully effected the important change. If we " cry " unto the Lord daily," and lift up our souls unto him, we may hope that he will both preserve and " rejoice our " souls." Yet our defective holiness, our scanty services, and our imperfect prayers, would be no ground of confidence, if we had not a God of infinite mercy to approach unto. His " readiness to forgive," through that great atonement which he has provided, and his " plenteous " mercy to all that call upon him," is the original source of our encouragement : and our own consciousness of integrity and most devoted obedience, is merely evidential of the reality of our faith, and of the grace of God bestowed upon us. The abundance of his mercy, to pardon the sins and to supply the wants of those who call upon him, how many soever they may be, is sufficient to encourage all, who come with the desire of their hearts to pray before him : yet even this plenteous mercy will not profit those who remain too careless, proud, carnal, and unbelieving, to call on him for grace and salvation. The vanities of the heathen could not assist their deluded votaries; angels and saints cannot relieve those who worship them : our God alone possesses omnipresence and omniscience, almighty power, and infinite love; without which none can know all our necessities, or help us in them, and bear with all our provocations. None of the works ascribed to idols, are at all like the works of JEHOVAH, among which that of redemption stands pre-eminent. Nor can those worldly objects, which men idolize, give them any assistance in the hour of distress, at the approach of death, or at the day of judgment. " All nations " therefore, " whom " God hath made," are bound, in interest as well as in duty, to come and worship before him, and to glorify his name; seeing " he is great, and doeth wondrous things, " and is God alone : " and the time approaches, when they shall understand their interest, and in this respect do their duty; and for this we should pray without ceasing, and use whatever means we can. The soul that is born of God is often more desirous to be taught the way and truth of God, in order to walk in them, than to be delivered out of severe distress.

V:11-17.

The most upright believers find it difficult to attain to that simplicity and " singleness of heart," which they long for; and they still find cause to pray, " Unite my " heart to fear thy name," O LORD. Nay, the most eminent Christian will most readily confess, that he has deserved " the lowest hell," and expects deliverance from it only by the rich mercy of God : and being thus humbled, and taught to trust in him for salvation, and prepared to " praise him for it with his whole heart, and to glorify his " name for evermore," he possesses an evidence, that he is indeed " delivered from the wrath to come." (Note, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10.) But men of this character will often have reason to complain, that the proud, the violent, and those who " set not God before them," have arisen against them to conspire their hurt; arid especially that the powers of darkness seek after their souls. Still however, the compassion, long-suffering, and plenteous mercy and truth of God, will be their refuge and consolation : to him they will look for help and strength, as well as for pardon; and they will wait on "him tq give them, from time to time, some token for good, in their own experience and from his comforting Spirit, and in the sight of others from his providential interpositions; that those who hate them may see and be ashamed, and either converted or intimidated. It is an encouragement to us, when we pray, to recollect, that others have prayed, or are praying for us : and they, whose parents were the servants of the Lord, and who brought them up for him, may urge that as a plea why he should hear and help them. But in considering David"s experience, and that of the believer as corresponding with it; we must not lose sight of him, " who, though he was " rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his " poverty might be rich." (Note, 2 Corinthians 8:6-9.) He most perfectly served and continually called upon his heavenly Father; and through him the plenteous mercy of our God is exercised towards the chief of sinners. Being raised from the dead, he is made triumphant over the assemblies of proud and violent men, who sought after his soul; and " all nations shall come and worship before him," and glorify the name of the Lord; but all who hate him shall be ashamed and perish for ever. May we rely wholly on his righteousness, propitiation, and intercession, and copy his example; and may we learn from him to bear poverty, hardship, or persecution, with cheerfulness and resignation; and to hope and wait for a happy issue out of all our tribulations.

 


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Bibliography Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 86:4". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsp/psalms-86.html. 1804.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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