Daily Devotion Friday, June 16, 2017
Patricia R. “Patsy” Bjorling, M.Div.
Psalm 86: 1-15 The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm
86 1-7 Bend an ear, God; answer me.
I’m one miserable wretch!
Keep me safe—haven’t I lived a good life?
Help your servant—I’m depending on you!
You’re my God; have mercy on me.
I count on you from morning to night.
Give your servant a happy life;
I put myself in your hands!
You’re well-known as good and forgiving,
bighearted to all who ask for help.
Pay attention, God, to my prayer;
bend down and listen to my cry for help.
Every time I’m in trouble I call on you,
confident that you’ll answer.
8-15 There’s no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord,
and nothing to compare with your works.
All the nations you made are on their way,
ready to give honor to you, O Lord,
Ready to put your beauty on display,
parading your greatness,
And the great things you do—
God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!
Train me, God, to walk straight;
then I’ll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
You’ve always been great toward me—what love!
You snatched me from the brink of disaster!
God, these bullies have reared their heads!
A gang of thugs is after me—
and they don’t care a thing about you.
But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
not easily angered, immense in love,
and you never, never quit.
A Word of Hope: Take It to Our God in Prayer
I am quite certain each of us has felt threatened by enemies in one way or another during our lives. Perhaps it is happening right now. It might not be physical pursuit, but there may be emotional battering, psychological trauma, unjust power situations, and so forth. We’ve all been there, and while in those moments life can seem unbearable.
Certainly, there are many ways to look for relief from such challenges, but one source of help we should always seek is God’s. Whether we pray on our knees or standing up, with eyes open or closed, prayer should be like an involuntary response for God’s people. Pray for yourself, and ask others to pray for you; that’s why we gather in Christian community. We are meant to support one another.
I’ve always liked Psalm 86. It’s always felt a little bit good, when I have been feeling low, to read this Psalm written by someone who clearly knew what feeling lousy was all about.
The Psalmist, David cries out to God for help and relief from his enemies. He begins with a familiar pattern found in biblical petitions for God’s intervention, followed by words praising God, before directly asking for deliverance from those who are against him, then finally giving thanks to God in advance of God even answering his prayer (so confident is he that God in his goodness will grant his request!).
For me the most significant line is verse 15: “But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit.” (Other translations: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”) This verse is taken from Exodus 34:6, where God, speaking to Moses, reveals that “I AM” is a God who loves mercy over anger.
Based on verse 15, we know then, that when David hopes for favor from God in Psalm 86, it is not a superficial, blind hope—the kind you might have if you said, “I hope I win the lottery.” Instead, it is a hope that is derived from God’s own words and God’s very nature. God has promised to be there for God’s People because we are loved; God loves us, therefore, God has promised. We can be confident whenever we request God’s help, because God keeps God’s promises.
What we learn from this important Psalm is that when we pray and call upon God for help, we can do so with without any uncertainty about the results. We can be sure our just and compassionate God hears us and will not let us down. There is no issue too terrible or seemingly trivial, God will listen.
Holy One, I ask your help today in overcoming my enemies and the fears in my heart. Bring me solutions that will be life-preserving, life-redeeming, and life-affirming for all who are affected. Please give me a sense of your real presence, so that I may comforted by the assurance that you have heard me. I also ask, Gracious God, that you help me to silence the noise that my problems so often create, so that I can hear your voice as you seek to guide me, as well as helping me to hear guidance you may bring to me through others. Give me peace today, and help me to remember always the joy of being your beloved child. Amen.