Matthew Poole's Commentary
A Prayer of David. Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.When he was in some deep distress, either from Saul, or by Absalom, or upon some other occasion.
David strengtheneth himself in prayer by the truth of his religion, Psalm 86:1-4, and by God’s goodness and his readiness to hear, Psalm 86:5-10; desireth the continuance of his grace, Psalm 86:11-13. Complaining of his proud enemies, he entreateth for some token of his love, to their shame and confusion, Psalm 86:14-17.
Forsaken and persecuted by men, and utterly unable to save myself, and therefore a very proper object for thy power and goodness to work upon.
Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.I am holy; sanctified in some measure by thy grace, and sincerely devoted to thy service. This David speaks, not in a way of vain ostentation, but partly as a powerful argument to move God to hear his prayers, because he was one of that sort of men to whom God had engaged himself by his promise and covenant; and partly by way of just and necessary vindication of himself from the censures of his enemies, who represented him to the world as a gross dissembler, and secretly a very wicked man; concerning which he here makes a solemn appeal to God, desiring audience and help from God upon no other terms than upon this supposition, that he was a holy man; which, by the way, savoureth of no more arrogancy than when he elsewhere professeth his great love to and longing after God, his sincere obedience to all God’s commands, and his hatred of every false way, and the like.
My God, by thy covenant and my own choice.
That trusteth in thee; whereby thou seemest obliged in honour and by promise to help me.
Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.No text from Poole on this verse.
Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.The expression notes fervent desire joined with hope or expectation, as appears by comparing Deu 24:15 Jeremiah 22:27.
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.Herewith he relieveth himself under the sense of his guilt, whereby he had brought his present calamities upon himself.
Them that call upon thee, to wit, in truth, as it is explained Psalm 145:18, or with an upright heart; for if a man regard iniquity in his heart, God will not hear him, Psalm 66:18.
Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.He repeats and multiplies his requests, both to ease his own troubled mind, and to prevail with God, who is well-pleased with his people’s importunity in prayer. See Luke 18:1, &c.
In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.Whereof I have assurance both from the benignity of thy nature, and from the truth and certainty of thy promises, and from my own and others’ experiences in former times.
Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.There is none like unto thee, either for power or readiness to hear and answer prayers. I am not now calling upon a deaf and impotent idol, for then I might cry my heart out, and all in vain, as they did, 1 Kings 18:26; &c, but upon the Almighty and most gracious God.
All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.So true is that which I have now said of thee, Psalm 86:8, that the time is coming when all the nations of the earth shall acknowledge it, and, forsaking their impotent idol, shall worship thee alone; which being a work of thy power and grace, clearly proves that no God is like to thee and no works like thine. And those words,
whom thou hast made, are added to prevent or remove objections concerning the insuperable difficulty and incredibility of this work. The God, saith he, that made them can easily convince and convert them to himself.
For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.Doest wondrous things: this is added as a reason either why the nations should own the true God, because they should see his wonderful works; or why that great work, Psalm 86:9, was not incredible, but should certainly be accomplished.
Art God alone; and all thee idols of the heathen are no gods, but vanities; as the Gentiles themselves shall see and acknowledge.
Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.Thy way; wherein thou wouldst have me to walk. As thou hast taught me by thy word, so also by thy Spirit enlighten my mind, that I may clearly discern thy will and my duty in all conditions and circumstances.
In thy truth; in the way of thy precepts, which are true and right in all things, as he saith, Psalm 119:128, and the only true rule of thy worship, and the only true way to man’s happiness.
Unite my heart, engage and knit my whole heart to thyself and service, and deliver me from inconstancy and wavering, that I may not at any time, nor in the least degree, be withdrawn from thee, either to any corrupt worship, or to the love and pursuit of the lusts or vanities of this present evil world.
I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.Either,
1. If thou grantest my request, Psalm 86:11; or,
2. Because thou hast done what is expressed Psalm 86:13.
For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.My soul; my person or life, as in the next verse.
From the lowest hell; either,
1. From hell properly so called. Or rather,
2. From extreme and desperate dangers and miseries, by comparing this with Deu 32:22, and with Psalm 88:6. Thou hast laid me in the lowest (the same word in the Hebrew which is here) pit; where by the pit he means, as is evident and confessed, the grave, which is commonly called sheol, the word here used.
O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them.They have no reverence nor regard for thee, neither for thy word, which hath conferred the kingdom upon me; nor for thine all-seeing eye, which beholds all their wicked devices and practices against me; nor for thy justice, which will undoubtedly bring their mischief upon their own heads.
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.To wit, to thy people, and to me in particular; and therefore thou wilt forget and forgive my manifold sins, for which thou mightest justly reject me, and make me to know thy breach of promise; and therefore thou wilt save me from my cruel enemies.
O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid.Give thy strength, to assist, support, and save me. Me, who by thy gracious providence was born not of heathen, but of Israelitish parents, and therefore was in covenant with thee from my birth, and whose mother was thy faithful servant, and did entirely devote me to thy service.
Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.Vouchsafe unto me some evident and eminent token of lay good will to me, for the conviction of mine enemies, and mine own comfort.