Psalm 86 And 87
- 86 List (a) the psalmist’s petitions, and (b) the reasons for his confidence that his prayer will be heard. Note especially in verses 8-13 the concentration of his thought on God in worship and thanksgiving. Can you pray verse 11, and mean it?
- 87 is a Kind of prophetic expansion of Ps. 86:9. Zion is seen as the city of God’s special choice and sovereign purpose. Individuals from the nation that were Israel’s enemies are to become citizens of Zion. Are you one? What is the significance of the birth register, and of being ‘born in Zion’? Cf. John 3:3, 5; Heb. 12:22-24; Rev. 21:27.
- 86:11. ‘Give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name’: cf. Deut. 6:4, 5; Jer. 32:39. The psalmist desires in singleness of heart and harmony of purpose to be wholly and exclusively devoted to God’s worship and service.
- 87:7. The city resounds with joy, each worshiper declaring that the one source of all his blessings is Zion and Zion’s Lord.
In some respects this psalm depicts the sufferings of the Jewish nation in exile. The Christian may find in it a picture of the sufferings of Christ. But the language of the psalm is universal, and no one specific application exhausts it; hence it’s continuing relevance.
- Summarize the main features of the sufferer, s distress. The sufferer cleaves to God most passionately when God seems to have removed himself most completely. How do you account for the persistence of his faith? Cf. Is. 50:10; Hab. 3:17, 18.
- Verses 4-6, 10-12. With the psalmist’s view of death and its sequel, cf. ps. 6:5; 30:9; Is. 38:18. Contrast it with that of the Christian and note from where light and hope come. See 2 Tim. 1:110; Heb. 2:14, 15; 1 Cor. 15:17, 18, 51-57.
This Psalm vividly depicts the conflict of faith. In the first part (verses 1-37) the psalmist praises the Lord, who is reverenced in heaven and on earth, as the Victor over chaos, and the covenant God and Father of Israel’s King and people. In the second part (verses 38-52), however, it is clear that the King has suffered a serious military reverse.
- Verses 5-18 expand verses 1and 2. What attributes of God are extolled? How is the blessedness of God’s people described?
- Verses 19-37 expand verses 3and 4 concerning God’s covenant. Ponder the scope, the conditions and the generosity of God’s promises.
- Verse 3. The original occasion is described in 2 Sam. 7, recalled in 2 Sam. 32:5, and celebrated in ps. 132:11ff.
- In verses 9-14 the pronouns ‘you’ and ‘yours’ are emphatic.
- Verse 10. Rahab was originally used to refer to the forces of chaos subdued at creation (cf. job 26:12). But here and in Is. 51:9 (cf. ps. 74:12ff). The imagery is used to refer to the exodus from Egypt, when God’s mighty power was shown in redemption.