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Bible Study. PSALM 86 (85) Prayer in times of trouble


Request for help to God.

This psalm is a prayer that reflects the feelings of a person who cries out to God in the midst of life's difficulties and problems; it shows the fears of the person who suffers, but also his great confidence in the help of God.


1Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.

4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.

5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. 6 Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. 7 When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.

8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me— they have no regard for you. 15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.

17 Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

What does the text say?

The Psalm begins with an intense invocation, which the prayer addresses to the Lord trusting in his love (cf. vv. 1-7). He expresses his pain and fragility in the face of life's difficulties; but with the assurance that the goodness of God will not wait to help him.

In the end, he again expresses the certainty that the Lord is a "compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." (v. 15; cf. Ex 34,6). These reiterated testimonies of trust manifest an intact and pure faith, which is abandoned to the "Lord, who is forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to Him" (v. 5).

The psalmist presents himself to God with a request: “Teach me, Lord, your way, so that I may follow your truth; keep my whole heart in fear of your name.” (v. 11). It is beautiful this request to know the will of God, as well as this invocation to obtain the gift of a "an undivided heart ", without doubts to advance on the path of life.

The psalmist also opens himself to universality: "All the peoples will come to prostrate themselves in your presence, Lord" (Ps 85:9). Suffering is not for the few, and God's help is not for the few. The psalmist proclaims that all peoples will receive God's help.

3. MEDITATE ON THE WORD. Does this reading say anything special to you?

Beautiful psalm to be read and meditated on in times of difficulty, when problems overwhelm us and we don't know what to do. Faith and trust in God will give us strength and make us hope that his help will come to us.

4. PRAY WITH THE WORD. What do you say to God?

Listen to us, Lord, that we are poor homeless people; show us your way and make us stay all day in fear of your name; that, although we may be immersed in problems, we know how to trust in your great goodness to everyone and bless your name.

5. CONTEMPLATE THE WORD. How does your look change?

In the midst of problems, it is good to know that we are not alone; that we have someone to turn to us in the midst of difficulties. Sooner or later we all need the help of others and especially the help of God. This psalm fuels our trust in God, good, gracious, and compassionate. He will light our way and help us regain the peace we have lost.

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