The enemy within your gates must be defeated before you can effectively engage the enemy without, but sometimes the enemy outside is sent to expose and defeat the enemy hiding within.
In Psalm 86, David began with a parallelism that lays out a cause and effect relationship between the state of his heart and God answering his prayers.
- V1 – Incline your ear, O YHVH. Hear me.
- For I am sorrowful and destitute.
- V2a – Preserve my soul
- For I am pious.
- V2b – Save your servant
- Who trusts in you.
- V3 – Be merciful to me, O Lord
- For I cry out to you daily.
- V4 – Gladden the soul of your servant
- For unto you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
- V5 – You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love
- To all who call upon you.
David went on to ask God to help him become a more righteous man, to thank Him and glorify Him for His steadfast love and deliverance. Only then did he come back to the problem at hand: A group of lawless and violent men were conspiring against David, and he needed divine protection.
This Psalm is remarkable for more than just the parallelism at the beginning. In it, David touched on every major point of The Lord’s Prayer as taught by Yeshua in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. I have listed some of the correlations here but I am sure there are more:
- v8,12 : Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
- v9 : Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- v1 : Give us this day our daily bread, and
- v5,6,15,16 : forgive us our trespasses,
- v11,17 : as we forgive those who trespass against us, and
- v2,11: lead us not into temptation,
- v2,13,17 : but deliver us from evil.
- v10,12 : For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
Not only does David foreshadow the Lord’s Prayer, but also the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:
- v1 : Blessed are the poor in spirit
- v4 : Blessed are they who mourn
- v2 : Blessed are the meek
- v11 : Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness
- v17 : Blessed are the merciful (David did not pray for their destruction, but their repentance.)
- v2 : Blessed are the pure of heart
- v17 : Blessed are the peacemakers (See above)
- v14 : Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness
Is it any wonder that, despite all of his many sins and flaws, David is called a man after God’s own heart?
Like all of us, David continued to battle his sinful nature throughout his life, recognizing that he needed to have victory over the battle in his own heart before he could hope to have any real victory over external forces. This Psalm is an excellent pattern for every believer.
No matter how righteous we think we are, no matter how close to God we believe ourselves to be, our personal righteousness is a relative thing and will always be nothing compared to Yeshua’s. The trials that God sends are designed, in part, to remind us of this. The prayers of a righteous man are powerful, but righteousness that isn’t continually progressing becomes unrighteousness in time. This is a call to ever greater sanctity in our hearts and behavior, for there can be no victory in the world without victory in the heart.
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”