I Lift Up My Soul

Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.

All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O Lord,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
(Psalm 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10)

Scripture Study

86:1–4. The psalmist presents himself to God as a “poor” man who has placed his trust in him, and as a “servant” devoted to his service (cf. Is 42:1). Hence the constant reference to God as “Lord” or “my Lord” (Adonai: vv. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15), in the sense of “my Owner”, “my Master”.

86:5–7. The psalmist knows that God, being who he is, listens to him when he pleads for help, and this conviction, in turn, gives strength to his prayer.

86:8–10. Because the psalmist knows that God listens to him, he gives him praise, acknowledging him to be the only God there is. The Canticle of the saved in Revelation 15:3–4 contains the words of v. 9; there they are credited as “the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb”: “All nations shall come and worship thee, for thy judgments have been revealed” (Rev 15:4). 

Scripture Reflection

What is the psalmist telling us about prayer?

Prayer is the cry of a servant.
Prayer is made in confidence that God will respond.
Prayer is made in confidence that God can help.
Prayer is not based on one’s personal faith alone but on the ancient and continuing confessions of the whole community.
Prayer is the voice of dependence.
Prayer is the voice of trust.

Prayer is the utterance of an identity that is lived out. It is not mere language but brings to expression the role of servant adopted in existence. That is the force of all the self-descriptions in the psalm.

The prayer seeks not only deliverance from trouble but as well help in the formation of the self. The one who prays acknowledges that even his faith and faithfulness depend on the instruction and integration of his soul. Prayer is not only a plea for life, it is a submission of life. The servant can serve only one master. Prayer is the voice of commitment.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.