Psalm 86 – There is None Like You

Even in the midst of troubling times, David has confidence in God. Although this song is a cry for help, it centers around a beautiful chorus of praise!


Psalm 86 is another masterfully complex psalm. The number 7 features predominantly in the psalm and the meaningful center is very carefully constructed. The psalm also has a meaningful center for the first and second sections.

The number seven, which is the number of perfection, shows up multiple times in Psalm 86:

  • 7 strophes (groups of verses)
  • 7 verses in the first section
  • 7 verses in the second section
  • 7 uses of Adonai (Hebrew for "Lord")

The meaningful center of the first section is verse 4.

Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Psalm 86:4

The meaningful center of the second section is verse 11.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11

The central word of the psalm in Hebrew is the word "you", found in verse 10. In the original Hebrew the word "You" is the central word of five found at the beginning of verse 10. If we translate it word for word it would be something like "that great You doing marvelous". The ESV translates this way: "For you are great and do wondrous things". Through this technique the psalmist makes God and his greatness the very center of the psalm!

Because verses 8-10 together form a majestic song of praise and the three verses constitute the central strophe, it is also reasonable to see this whole section as the complete meaningful center.

Hear Me

Psalm 86:1-2

David begins this psalm by asking God to listen to him. Why should God listen? David gives four reasons:

  1. He is needy
  2. He is godly
  3. He is God's servant
  4. He trusts in God

When I ask God for help, I wonder, how many of these reasons are true of me?

Be Gracious to Me

Psalm 86:3-5

It is because of God's great character that David feels confident in coming to God. God is:

  • good,
  • forgiving and
  • abounding in love.

We have a good God and we should never fear to bring our requests to Him.

It is in this section that we find the meaningful center of the first seven verses.

Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Psalm 86:4

David realizes that God is the only hope he has to find real joy in this situation.

I Know You Will Answer

Psalm 86:6-7

The psalmist repeats his request for God to listen. But he does not end this section with a request. David completes the first section by declaring his trust in God:

"for you answer me."

We can always have this same confidence when we approach God. He listens and He answers. Our prayers are never ignored by our loving God.

You Are Great

Psalm 86:8-10

This whole section is the meaningful center of the psalm. In the very center of this prayer for help we find a song of praise! David is reminding us that God is always worthy of our praise - even before we see the answer to our prayer.

God is:

  • Superior to all other gods. The only real God.
  • Everyone will worship God.
  • His works are great.

Teach Me Your Way

Psalm 86:11

This verse is the meaningful center of the second group of seven verse. David asks God to "teach me your way". David isn't just asking God to rescue him. He is also asking God to help him to know how to follow the ways of God.

So often, when we are feeling needy, we focus only on our needs. But David reminds us that our greatest need is to follow close to God.

I Will Praise You

Psalm 86:12-14

The psalmist returns to praising God. He continues to praise God even before he sees the answer to his prayer. David can do this because he knows that "great is His steadfast love toward me."

When we are struggling we need to never forget that we have a God that loves us and is working for our good.

Be Gracious to Me

Psalm 86:15-17

The prayer ends with a mixture of praise and petition. David once more lists the loving attributes of God and then makes his final request for rescue.


Are you going through trials? Follow David's example and present your needs before God. But even as you send up your request, continue to praise Him. God is worthy of our praise at all times - even when we are going through trials. Our life circumstances may change, but our God never does. He always remains faithful and loving.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in Psalms and tagged , .