Be Gracious to me, O Lord!

Be Gracious to me, O Lord!

by Erik Retalick

​”Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save Your servant, who trusts in You – You are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon You, for You answer me.” ~ Psalm 86:1-7
 
This Psalm is believed to have been written by David when he was being attacked by enemies, which was a common occurrence in his life, being first hounded by Saul, following his anointing to become king of Israel by Samuel and the threat which that posed to Saul’s dynasty. Later he faced threats from his own son, Absalom, and as we know from reading his life story in 1st. and 2nd. Samuel, he faced many other problems, temptation, trials, a sense of abandonment at times by God Himself and so many more difficulties and trials.
 
I find that David is a character with whom I can relate with in so many ways, being musical and having seen the power of music working supernaturally in the hearts and minds of others, facing loneliness, loss of loved ones, and sensing that enemies are out to attack me, even when this may be just a figment of my imagination.
 
It may seem strange to us that David begins this Psalm by saying “I am poor and needy,” when he was in fact very wealthy and had so much going in his favour. My guess is that probably many rich people, in terms of worldly wealth, actually feel very poor spiritually and sense that people want to become their friends for the wrong reasons, such as their monetary wealth or power and influence in the world.   
 
In the next part of this prayer, David pleads with God to preserve his life, arguing that he is a godly man, who trusts in God and therefore deserving of divine favour. In the times in which we live, many people claim their “human rights,” in situations where they are facing legal battles or court trials. However, in God’s sight, if we were to receive what we actually deserve as sinners, standing before a Holy God who hates sin, we would be eternally separated from God, what the Bible calls Hell. 
 
After pleading his cause, David recognises the weakness of his own case and says, “You are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you I cry all the day.” In the book of Lamentations in the Old Testament, written by Jeremiah, we read, in the middle of his sad expressions about the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Israelites in Babylon, these amazing words. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say, ‘the Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him.'” (Lamentations 3:22-24).
 
It is interesting to see the contrasting attitudes of David and Jeremiah in these two Old Testament passages. David seems to be more urgent, wanting an answer to his prayer yesterday or the day before, yet Jeremiah states philosophically, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him.” There is a saying that “there are no atheists on a battlefield,” and this is the situation we find David  in, he is hard-pressed in his life circumstances. Every direction he turns in there is a wall, there seems to be no way forward. Then, when he looks upwards, he sees sunshine, the grace of God in all its fullness, available to him, and recognises it as the only option available to him, the only source of deliverance from his present situation. 
 
Dear friends, I am sure that we can all identify with at least some of the problems David was facing at this time and I wonder how quickly, if at all, we were able to get to the point where we looked upwards and were able to see the sunshine of God’s grace, available to us, just as it was to David. He was no perfect man, as we can see when we read the history of his life in the books of Samuel. He had failings and weaknesses just like the rest of us, and that’s why the only solution available to him was the grace of God. It is the same with us, we can often try and muddle through life, in fact many of us spend our lives trouble-shooting and problem-solving. In many of the situations we are dealing with, day by day, why shouldn’t we use the natural gifts, talents and minds which God has given us? Yet, ultimately, we only possess these because God has given them to us, by His grace and the ways in which He works in the lives of each one of us, individually.
 
Notice how the tone of this Psalm changes once David acknowledges the Grace of God and it’s availability for him. After the “woe is me!” tone of the opening of the Psalm, we see an attitude of thankfulness replacing the self-pity and sense of helplessness. David stirs himself up, encouraging himself to lift his soul to God, when he says, “for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul!” He then recognises God’s goodness and forgiveness, “abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.” 
 
The last part of this opening section is a prayer which any of us can join in with. “Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon You, for You answer me.” In fact, we don’t need to just call upon God when we are in trouble like the atheist on the battlefield, because He delights to hear our prayers at any time and will answer our prayers and speak to us. As we allow His grace to take more and more root in our hearts and lives, we will become more and more thankful to Him and appreciate what He has done for us, by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for us, so that we may be forgiven and receive eternal life with Him, in heaven.
 
The following hymn expresses very effectively so much of what God has accomplished for us in the finished work of Christ, who is now seated at the right hand of God as our Great High Priest.
 
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God,
With Christ, my Savior and my God

 

playIf you would like to hear Erik’s podcast, “Be Gracious to me, O Lord!” just click on the arrow at left.

 

Erik Retallick

serves as Sr Pastor and President of World Prayr Ministries.

He lives in Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK with his wife Hazel. He has two grown children, daughter in law and two grandchildren. A Speaker, Teacher and Musician. Leads an extremely varied life with many challenges and blessings, full of tears, laughter and great fulfillment!

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