Today we are looking at Psalm 86 in full. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive in.

This psalm is divided into three primary sections. Read the entire psalm – ideally reading aloud if possible – and try to discern the three primary movements of the psalm.

Movement one verses:

Movement two verses:

Movement three verses: 

What is the primary theme in each movement?

Movement one theme:

Movement two theme:

Movement three theme:

The opening section of this poem is a cry to God. Verses one through seven are particularly filled with the psalmist’s supplication. And we can’t help but notice the “up” and “down” language David uses here – he speaks passionately about lifting his voice up to God, and asking God to bend down low. Embedded in his words are an acknowledgement that he is low and God is high … and He needs God to come and lift Him up. 

Take a moment and look back over this section. Note all the words or phrases that use this high/low or up/down imagery.

Next, David turns to praising God. The second movement is full of exhortation for who God is in His character. David praises God for being unlike the gods of the nations and for His power and glory. David extols God for His words in the world and commits his entire life to worshiping Him.

This movement uses a word that we have seen before in one of our word studies. What is it? Why do you think this word is significant here?

In the midst of praising God for His power and might, for being unlike any other god, for being higher than David’s praise could ever attain – David praises God for His steadfast love, or His covenant faithfulness. David knows that God is high and lifted up. And he knows that his own position is low. He knows that his salvation hinges on God condescending to him, reaching down to where he is, and lifting him up in His might. And David appeals to God’s covenantal faithfulness to do so.

How is David’s prayer of praise to God a form of submission, particularly after he has asked for salvation?

Finally, David concludes with a moment that remembers his own situation – there are those who are plotting against him, seeking to kill him. Particularly, these are not men who worship God as King over all or follow His ways. These men are plotting to take David’s life.

How does David follow this confession in verse 15? Why do you think this is significant?

David has moved from realizing his low estate, praising God for His high glory, to appealing to God’s covenantal faithfulness in the end. David knows that he can do nothing in his own power to reach up to God. God must come to him to save Him. God is high and glorious and powerful and sovereign – and yet He is a God who makes covenants and keeps covenants with His people whom He loves. And therefore, David can rest assured: God’s help is on the way. 


Supplication: Confess to God your low position. Confess that you are a created being, that you sin, that you were once far from Him. 

Submission: Confess to God who He is – praise Him for His power and might and sovereignty. Confess to Him that you needed Him to condescend to you and save you. Praise Him that He is a God of covenantal faithfulness.  

Author: amygannett

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