PSALM 86 and 88
Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
A psalm of David. A prayer for God’s help in a day of trouble. The prayer moves back and forth between plea and praise.
Stanza 1 (vs.1-4, four lines): A prayer for God’s mercy and protection.
Stanza 2 (vs.5-7, three lines): Reasons to call out to God in prayer.
Stanza 3 (vs.8-10, three lines): The True God is the One to whom all people should go.
Stanza 4 (vs.11-13, three lines): A prayer for godliness and a vow to praise.
Stanza 5 (vs.14-17, four lines): Concluding prayer.
Another way to outline the psalm:
Prayer 1 (vs.1-5): Prayer of petition, ending with an affirmation
Prayer 2 (vs.6-10): Prayer of submission, ending with an affirmation
Prayer 3 (vs.11-15): Prayer for instruction, ending with an affirmation
Closing Prayer (vs.16-17): Prayer for reassurance
o The psalmist uses 3 different names for God:
LORD = Yahweh
God = Elohim
Lord = Adonai
o The psalmist refers to himself 3 times as “your servant” (verses 2, 4 and 16), refers twice to the LORD as “my God” (vs.2, 12) and 7 times uses “O Lord” which also means ‘my Lord’. Describe the relationship between God and the one praying. Why is that so important in the prayer?
o What are some of the claims the psalmist makes about himself?
o What attributes of the LORD are emphasized?
o What should our response be to such a God?
o What does it mean today, in a day when Time magazine asks “Is Truth Dead?” to walk in God’s truth (vs.11)?
A psalm of the Sons of Karah. A song. According to the tune “The Suffering of Affliction”. A maskil (musical term, often for psalms of instruction) of Heman the Ezrahite (choir leader?).
This prayer of an individual on the verge of death who has suffered long.
Opening Prayer (vs.1-2, two lines): An appeal to the One “who saves me”
Stanza 1 (vs.3-5, four lines): Living on the brink of death
Stanza 2 (vs.6-9a, four lines): God’s role in the suffering
Stanza 3 (vs.9b-12, four lines): Questions for God
Closing Prayer (vs.13-14, two lines): A final appeal
Stanza 4 (vs.15-18, four lines): A final complaint
o Heman’s prayer may describe the suffering of a deep depression rather than a serious physical illness. How is the situation described?
o Based on the statements made in verses 6-8, what role does Heman understand that God plays in his suffering? Is it more of an expression of accusation against God or an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty?
o Read 1 Chronicles 6:33 and 1 Samuel 8:1-3. How might Heman’s father and uncle contributed to his ordeal?
o How does this psalm speak to Jesus’ suffering during his final week? Can we hear this psalm on Jesus’ lips in the Garden of Gethsemene or on the cross?
o What are the answers to Heman’s questions in verses 10-12?
o This is one of the only psalms of lament that does not have a positive resolution or affirmation. What might the purpose of this psalm be?