Psalm 86 Study Notes


86:1-3 In many individual laments, the psalmist’s unceasing prayers (all day long) continued until God delivered him.

86:4-5 An appeal to the Lord’s kindness, forgiveness, and covenant loyalty (faithful love) is a variation of the formula that occurs again in v. 15. Psalm 103:8 associates forgiveness of sin with the Lord’s covenant loyalty.

86:6 Hear requests a respondent who is fully alert. Plea for mercy is a supplication, the seeking of divine favor (28:2; 31:22; 130:2; 140:6).

86:7 God will answer (Hb ‘anan) the prayer of the humble (“poor,” Hb ‘ani); see v. 1 (see note at 34:6).

86:8-10 A statement about the incomparability of God often precedes a call for the universal recognition of his sovereignty (Ex 15:11; 2Sam 7:22; 1Kg 8:23; Mc 7:18).

86:11-12 David desired to form godly habits. A divided mind was an insincere or fickle mind, one torn by divided desires. David wanted a mind united in the fear of the Lord. Such a mind would begin with praise.

86:13 Sheol refers to the underworld (Is 14:9; Ezk 31:16) or a place of separation from God (Ps 6:5; Is 38:18) from which there is no praise. Figuratively, mention of Sheol may depict imminent death or the removal of a person from the divine presence (Jnh 2:3).

86:14 Arrogant people do not recognize or regard the Lord (19:13; 54:3).

86:15 The psalmist emphasized the positive attributes of the Lord as compassionate, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in covenant loyalty and truth. Note the absence of the second half of the formula, which describes God’s wrathful response to sin (Ex 34:6-7; see note at Ps 86:4-5).

86:16-17 Your female servant is figurative for Israel.