Psalm 86:1 ‘Bow down thine ear, O Jehovah, and answer me; for I am poor and needy.’

April 16, 2017 by David Farmer 0 comments

Posted in: Weekly Commentary

Psalm 86:1

‘Bow down thine ear, O Jehovah, and answer me; for I am poor and needy.’

                While the majority, even most, of the Psalms have a superscription at their beginning—which actually are inspired and form the first verse in the original—there are some occasions, in our psaltery, in some of the psalms, where there is not to be found a superscription. A superscription is something of an address, as on a letter or envelope, one dictionary suggests; it is a writing on the top of something. That describes therefore, to a degree, what the superscriptions at the top of many, or most, of the Psalms are there for. These superscriptions that are found at the top of a psalm are part of the inspired Word. In other words, the inspired writer of the Psalm was led by the Holy Spirit to include this ‘heading’ as an integral part of the particular Psalm. In the case of Psalm 86, the superscription is simply, A Prayer of David. The psalm-singer, David, has been thus inspired to tell us, his readership, and his hearers, that he intends this portion of the Word of God to be recognized as, not only a song but, a prayer of David, the sweet psalmist of Israel. It may well seem to us to be conspicuously unnecessary in this particular instance, since David has begun with language that would not suit very well any other activity. He begins his prayer with the humble supplication unto God with the following invocation, crying it seems, for a hearing:

         Bow down thine ear, O Jehovah, and answer me; For I am poor and needy.

 It could appear that David is here imitating the great evangelist, Dwight L. Moody. It has been reported of this ‘famous’ man of God that upon being asked what sort of inscription he would wish to have upon his tombstone; what sentiment would he wish to be remembered by; what applicable Scripture verse would he desire to be, in a sense, his last words to his friends and his neighbors. Upon consideration, although certainly not any lengthy consideration, yet very thoughtful, Moody responded that he would like to have only Luke 16:22 chiseled upon his tombstone. This verse of Scripture reads very simply, And it came to pass, that the beggar died. Moody understood that throughout his entire life, he was a beggar of God’s grace before the throne of the Almighty.  

                Of course, it would be a glaring anachronism to suggest that David was imitating the humility of a believer that lived some three thousand years afterward. But it would be no surprise to learn that Moody was patterning David’s humility. All of mankind is poor and needy but the vast majority do not recognize this reality. The Word of God informs us that even the beasts wait upon God for their food. These beasts are, in this matter, more astute that the bulk of mankind that go about every day taking all things for granted. “The sun came up yesterday; it will surely come up again today.” It is surely presumption upon the God they do not even know. They imagine that their lives are in their own hands when, in truth, they have only the breath that is presently in their nostrils. This breath came from God and all are dependent upon God for the next one.

                It is a blessed privilege of the children of God that we may know; that David may know; that D. L. Moody could know the reality of what our sweet psalmist was guided to pen in another psalm, the 103rd, verses 13-14;

Like as a father pitieth his children, So Jehovah pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. 

As though it were not enough that the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity itself should be mindful of willful rebels, He has embraced His elect ones with glorious lovingkindness; yea, His mercy that endures forever and ever. And He has, in His infinite wisdom and power, found a way that He might be able to remove our transgressions from us, even as far as the east is from the west. He has discovered a way in which He can justify sinners and remain just Himself at the same time. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Paul could not contain himself. He must cry out the glory of his God; he must magnify His Name. Yet David moved ahead from extolling the lovingkindness and forgiveness of God to the wonder of gracious adoption as he spoke of our Father’s compassion for His own. In a manner similar to the way fathers among mankind sympathize with their sons and daughters so, David tells us, does our Father in heaven pity us; His children, those that fear Him.

                And in that marvelous pity, He has so dealt with us through the gift of God the Holy Spirit who indwells His people that we are made to know, for our own good, that we are poor and needy; this drawing us to the throne of grace. David was made to know this, like ourselves, through the Word and Spirit, that we can do nothing of ourselves, without me ye can do nothing, we have learned. Therefore we, with David cry unto our God, Bow down thine ear, O Jehovah, and answer me; for I am poor and needy. We are thus reminded of our Savior’s teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, and the beatitudes. He has graciously told us that such people that know they are poor and needy are blessed. The very first beatitude pronounces this blessing in familiar language, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This is a gracious and loving invitation to all those who are poor in spirit; all those that are poor and needy, to cry unto God without fear; to beg our Lord Jehovah to bow down His ear and hear us. In the words of Hebrews 4:16, Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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