Daybreak: Psalms 84:1 through 86:17
“In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” (Psalm 86:7)
I have always been a person who likes to seek out advice. Every Saturday morning, I tune in to a local talk-radio station and pick up tips from “The Garden Doctor.” “Mr. Fix-It” is another of my favorites. When our children were very young, I would ask other mothers for advice on potty training, when to start allowances, how to train first-graders to pick up after themselves, and so on. As my children grew older, I was thankful for a friend who would lend an ear whenever I was concerned about their choice of friends or grades at school. There was always someone I could turn to when I needed counsel or consolation. That probably reinforced my tendency to assume that if I talked to the right person and asked the right questions, I could find a solution to whatever I faced.
Then one day my father called to say that my mother had been diagnosed with an incurable type of cancer. The only thing that could be done was treatment to slow its spread. As soon as I hung up the phone, I fell apart emotionally. I needed help! My mom needed help! Who could I call?
My mind raced through a list of friends and acquaintances, but part of me realized that there was no advice that could make this situation better. There was no one who could provide a solution to the challenge facing us. Then, from the depths of my soul, I cried out to God, “Lord, only You can help. Only You understand.” I will never forget the wave of peace and the assurance of God’s love that came over me. All I needed was Him. I knew He would be with us through whatever lay ahead.
That experience taught me the profound truth stated in our focus verse: God will answer us when we call upon Him in the time of trouble. No doubt at some point in life, each one of us will face a situation that seems hopeless and for which any human remedy is beyond reach. However, God is more than just a friend who will listen and offer some advice. He is a Friend who will take the burden from our hearts and give us peace and comfort!
If what you face today is a rough and stormy ride, you can do what the psalmist did and acknowledge the greatness of God. The assurance that God answers prayer and will sustain you is an invaluable consolation and source of strength.
Psalm 84 was written for the “sons of Korah,” who were singers and keepers of the Temple gates. It is an eloquent expression of love and appreciation for God’s sanctuary. While no author is cited, in all probability it was written by David. The Syriac version of the Psalms points to his authorship.
Psalm 84 is typically associated with the Feast of Tabernacles, an autumn celebration of gratitude for God’s provision. It may have been a song that conveyed the pilgrims’ rejoicing as they traveled to the Temple in Jerusalem.
In verse 1, the plural form of “tabernacles” indicates the psalmist’s love for all areas of the Temple, referred to as “courts” in verse 2. In verses 3-4, he conveyed envy for the birds that freely nested in the vicinity of the Temple, while he was only rarely privileged to visit the place where God’s glory dwelt. The word Baca in verse 6 means “weeping,” inferring that the “valley of weeping” would become a place of refreshing wells and pools of blessings as the pilgrims renewed their strength there during their journey to appear before God in the Temple. The joys of attendance in God’s house are only surpassed by the joy of His presence with those who “walk uprightly” (verse 11) — a phrase which means literally “in perfectness” or “whole, entire, in integrity.”
Psalm 85, like the preceding psalm, is dedicated to the sons of Korah. Its theme is praise for Israel’s deliverance from captivity, and includes a prayer for Israel to turn their hearts back to God. Although the only specific allusion to historical events is the reference to captivity in verse 1, it indicates a time of nationwide humiliation. Many believe the psalm was written after the captives returned from Babylonian captivity; others suggest it could have been related to any national calamity in Israel’s history. Still others interpret these verses from a prophetical viewpoint, proposing they refer to Israel’s future restoration and the establishment of Christ’s Millennial Reign.
The psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 86 petitions God to grant mercy and help, and is intermingled with adoration and thanksgiving for God’s wondrous works. This is the only psalm in Book III directly ascribed to David. His prayer is comprised of four sections which are divided by avowals of God’s greatness (verses 5, 10, 15, 17). No historical setting is clear. Many scholars consider this psalm to be a mosaic work compiled from Psalms 25-28 and 54-57, and the Books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.
In verses 1-5, the psalmist pleaded with God to heed his prayer because he was oppressed and desperately needed God’s intervention. The Hebrew meaning for the word holy in verse 2 is “pious,” “true,” or “godly,” all of which indicate that the psalmist believed his righteous living should be a reason for God to protect him. The phrase “Rejoice the soul” (verse 4) was a petition for God to fill his soul with joy. “Unite my heart to fear thy name” in verse 11 was a supplication for God to give the psalmist a heart that was single-minded in praising and glorifying His Name for ever.
David concluded his psalm in verses 16-17 with a series of requests entreating God to give him strength to triumph. He pointed out that his deliverance would confound his enemies and validate Jehovah’s greatness and power over all the earth.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- What comparison did the psalmist make in Psalm 84:10?
- Why do you think the writer of Psalm 85 implored Israel to seek for salvation after God had already shown favor and delivered them from captivity?
- In times of adversity, how can you use David’s prayer in Psalm 86 as an example for seeking God’s help?
Challenging situations may come our way that cause us to feel weak and helpless. However, like David, we can call out to God to sustain and deliver us in such times.