One God, One Heart, One Request

Psalm 86

Only psalm of David in book 3; filled with numerous quotations/allusions to other scripture. On basis of this psalm alone, have warrant to pray God’s Word back to him! Not plaigarism to use other people’s words in prayer, especially when they come from the Bible.

Conversation the other day, reference to someone who said “I live in the wrong time; should have lived a couple hundred years ago.” They had fashion more than faith in view, but have you ever felt like you really didn’t belong? Like what you enjoy and value is totally at odds with everyone around you? There is reason for that; not the main theme of this psalm, but it’s definitely there. It is a seriously counter-cultural psalm, at least when considering what is most often heard in our part of the world:

(v.1) shy away from acknowledging “poor and needy” …to God; not a problem when looking for handout, different story in other areas of life

(v.2) happiness far higher priority than holiness; “don’t care what they do, just want my kids to be happy”

(v.3) it’s about what everyone else owes to us, our rights, what we deserve; no cry for mercy because no recognition of need and helplessness

(v.8) if there is a God, almost certainly isn’t creator, isn’t directly involved in affairs of men and history

(v.10) Ravi Zacharias book “Jesus Among Other Gods” – pluralistic way of thinking says all get you to heaven or its equivalent; “we all worship the same God just by different names”

(v.11b) are no absolutes, truth is relative if it can be determined at all; may not be able to communicate truth to someone else, your truth definitely not authoritative for anyone else

(v.11c) being double-minded is badge of honor, sign of achievement in “postmodern” way of thinking. Declaring belief in two mutually exclusive things (can under no circumstances both be true or valid) seen as great intellectual achievement.

Just a quick summary of seven ways the Christian way of thinking comes into collision with the world. Is it any wonder we feel out of place when surrounded by those who reject God’s truth? Times in David’s life when as God’s anointed was at odds with many around him: Saul and his army; Absalom and those following him; on occasion those within his own household. This psalm his prayer to one true God, expressing his desire for singleness of heart and evidence of God’s favor.

A. one God v.1-10

sole source of help and hope (1-4)

what is sought

a. Attention – pretty amazing that individual of any status (whether royalty like David or one of us) can request God’s attention and reasonably expect to get it; it’s really a request for hearing with intent to respond

b. Safety – for both soul and body; not wrong to pray for personal safety for ourselves and others; but…. don’t forget need for spiritual protection: numerous enemies – temptation, discouragement, drift, deception

c. Grace – no presumption of favorable treatment, rather the plea of a servant to his master for daily supply of grace

d. Joy – goes beyond “make me happy”; instill joy within from inside out, comfort and confidence in spite of circumstances

nature of one addressed

LORD (1) – YHWH – unchanging covenant making and promise keeping God, always faithful; a personal, living Being in relationship with his people; Yahweh is the God of special revelation

God (2) – Elohim – omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient Creator; the God who appeared first at creation, who transcends time and space, who rules all because he made all things

Lord (3) – Adonai – sovereign Master (NET); God who claims unrestricted obedience and service of all people, the one above all other gods and over all the earth

Paul was absolutely right in his doxology: Eph. 3:20Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”

reason for confidence

poor and needy (1) – God (by all three names) is committed to “give justice to orphans and widows. …show love to the foreigners living among you and give them food and clothing” (Deut. 10:17-18)

holy / godly / loyal (2a) – one praying is committed to obedience, to lifestyle that shows he is set apart for God’s use

servant (2b,4) – at the complete disposal of the master; servant obligated to obey/serve, master to provide

continuous dependence (3,5,7) – “all day”, “In the day of my trouble”: not a generic “when”, blanket statement of crying out to God; as soon as need is recognized, help is sought from God

confidence of response: based on covenant relationship – God had obligated himself to care for his people when they trusted him and sought his help

confidence of good response from God based on his character, that he is

unique (one and only) source of help and hope (5-10) who is

1. Good (5a) morally good: God is good (in his character) and (because of that) he does good; talking objective good here, defined by things like 10 Commandments, Sermon on the Mount, living definition in Christ – “Good Teacher…”

2. Ready to forgive (5b) 40+ uses, only with respect to God and his offer of pardon and forgiveness to the sinner; standing at the ready, will forgive on request and without delay or condition

3. Abundant in lovingkindness (5c) steadfast love for his people that is really without limit; Paul ran out of words when he asked rhetorical question: what can separate us (Rom. 8:35-39)

4. The One who Hears and Answers Prayer (6-7) would be no point in asking covenant God to listen if no hope he would do so; because of his character, can call on him confident of an answer

one who owns cattle on thousand hills said “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you,” (Psa. 50:10, 15)

5. Without any rivals or legitimate competition (8a) pick a god, any god, out of all that people have ever worshiped; all of them together cannot compare in essence or character with true God by any measure

6. Unique in His works of power (8b) who else creates ex nihilo? who else gives life and gives it back? who else demonstrates absolute power over sin and death? list is endless

7. Worthy of Receiving Worship and Glory from the nations He has created (9-10) for these reasons and more

only one God who covers all these bases, satisfies all these conditions

B. one heart v.11-13

this is what the one God deserves; those who truly love him desire to give it (and more) to him; must have united heart – undivided loyalty in order to give undivided praise

undivided loyalty (11)

to God’s way – teach me how to live so I can obey; no situational ethics, no moral relativism, no “maybe right for you but not for me”; God’s way the only way in all circumstances for all people

to God’s truth – since God is undivided and unchanging, he has one truth, ultimately and fully revealed through one person, Jesus; truth found in written word is true and authoritative because of its Author

to God’s character – loyalty to God cannot be dependent on how he is acting, what facet of his character is most prominent; consider Joseph, Job, Paul, etc.

undivided praise (12-13)

wholehearted – are to love God with all of our being, he deserves praise in same way: fully focused, fully engaged, without holding back; don’t be shy, self-conscious in praise

never-ending – not just this life, praise rules eternity; God’s works of creation have ended, his works of re-creation and providence continue – redeemed mankind’s ability to appreciate God and his works greatly enhanced in next life

C. one request v.14-17

the kind of problem (14)

“arrogant men” — not humble and submissive to God; are convinced they know what is best even when contrary to God’s revealed truth; really arrogant extend that even to God’s Word itself, acting as authority over the Bible

“a band of violent men have sought my life” — not peaceful and loving; literally true in many parts of the world

“they have not set Thee before them” — not seekers after God; have other priorities, seek what will gratify self, oppose all who criticize or hinder their purpose

if they get their way, they will defeat purpose of undivided heart – by distraction or seduction, divert attention away from God; seek to change loyalties and priorities to match their own

greatest danger to God’s people not physical harm; much more significant: spiritual harm – not that they deny the faith, become heretics, convert to different religion; danger is diminished or divided loyalty, trying to serve both God and “not God”, giving God less than his due

the kind of defense / defender (15)

compassionate gracious / merciful patient faithful

always toward his people, sometimes toward all people; request is for God to clearly demonstrate those characteristics toward the one praying

a reminder to God not only of his character but also the context in which he declared his Name – to Moses, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” – relating to his people as personal covenant God

the kind of help (16-17)

1. God’s Favor: man’s favor is nice but definitely secondary; God’s favor – his grace and mercy of utmost importance

2. God’s Strength: human strength even in perfect state is inadequate for spiritual battle; remember Eph. 6:10-12 “Be strong in the Lord and the power of his might. …wrestle not against flesh and blood…”

3. God’s Deliverance: circumstances such that requires power of God to deliver from harm; true for all God’s children in all ages given true nature of their enemy

4. God’s Assurance: true child always craves assurance of Father’s love and approval; increases joy, confidence; fuels loyalty and perseverance


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