David and His Prayers
There are three psalms that are titled, “A Prayer of David”: Psalms 17, 86 and 142. Psalm 102, most likely also a Psalm of David, falling as it does between two others ascribed to him, is titled, “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord.” David had manifold trials. Difficulties drew out his deepest inner feelings. His words resonate in the hearts of believers in trial today. Another has written, “If David’s heart had ne’er been wrung, David’s Psalms had ne’er been sung.”
Christians empathize with David in his trials but we also need a right perspective. 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Let us remember that our sorrows and afflictions pale alongside those of “the Man of Sorrows,” Who could say prophetically, “Remembering Mine affliction and My misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in Me (Lam 3:19-20). Affliction is God’s means of producing likeness to His Son!
The Resource of Contact with the Lord: Psalm 17
In Psalm 102:1, the Psalmist cries out, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto Thee.” In this psalm, David similarly petitions the Lord to hear him (v 1). Is there doubt that God does or will hear? Without question, God hears all our words but He may not grant every request we make. He will withhold what is not for our good and His time to grant what we ask may not be the time we would choose. If it is in His will, He will grant it in His time, when He will receive the greatest glory. Let us never doubt that He hears.
David prays for preservation (v 5), “Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not,” and for preservation from harm (v 8), “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of Thy wings.” We must be aware of the danger of missteps before the ungodly. Like David, we also desire divine safekeeping. We shall not know till we reach heaven how much we owe to God’s preserving care for us.
David expresses his desire for divine blessing (v 7), “Shew Thy marvelous loving-kindness, O Thou that savest by Thy right hand…” Very likely, petitions for God’s blessing are the most frequent requests we make. David closes with an expression of confidence in the ultimate deliverance from his trials (v 15), “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.”
The Resource of Conversation about the Lord: Psalm 86
David makes supplications and petitions in this Psalm but he also renders praise for the goodness and blessing of the Lord to him. His requests are similar to those in Psalm 17, for God to hear him (v 1), for preservation (v 2), and for His mercy (v 3). Then he turns from preoccupation with problems and breaks out in praise and thanksgiving for the Lord’s goodness, forgiveness, and mercy “unto all them that call upon Thee” (v 5). We too easily forget to render thanksgiving and praise. These are vital components of prayer. The lack of thanksgiving suggests ingratitude or taking too much for granted. Praise is an indicator of how well we have come to know God’s greatness, majesty, and power. Praise stems from knowing God through reading and meditating upon His Word.
David states the Lord hears and will answer him (vv 6-7). Does his thankfulness and praise, just expressed, strengthen his confidence that this is true? He extols the Lord as incomparable to heathen deities (v 8) and counsels others to join in worshiping and glorifying the name of the Lord (v 9). This is a good example for us, speaking well of the One we have come to know. He returns to the theme of praise again because of deliverance from the lowest hell (v 13) and for the Lord’s compassion, longsuffering, mercy, and truth (v 15).
David ends the Psalm with a request for a sign others can recognize, that the Lord is with him and has helped him. The issue of our lives should also be to honor and glorify our God.
The Resource of Confidence in the Lord: Psalm 142
The setting for this Psalm is Saul’s deadly pursuit of David. As David hid in a cave, Saul personally entered that very cave. While Saul was within, David secretly cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe, but his conscience smote him and he shouted after Saul when he departed and showed Saul that he had spared his life. Saul only temporarily suspended his pursuit of David. In danger for his life, David continued to hide from Saul.
We can readily understand why David “cried unto the Lord” (v 1). He related his concerns to the Lord (v 2). Here we learn that when in trouble, do as he did, and turn to the Lord and tell Him our troubles. Does He not already know? Indeed He does, for David, though distressed, takes comfort in the knowledge the Lord knew all about his path and Saul’s cruel designs. Here then is rest (v 3).
David relates that wherever he looked, he found none willing to take his part and provide refuge for him (v 4). But then he cries to the Lord and recognizes that He, not another man, is the refuge and portion for him (v 5). Again he pleads for deliverance (v 6) and then expresses his confidence the Lord will undertake for him. Like David we need to keep on praying but we can also expect the outcome will ultimately be all the Lord has purposed for us in His love to us.