August 21 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 107-109; 1 Corinthians 4
Bright Spots in Bleak Places
You, LORD, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
READ PSALM 86:1–13
When my husband and I were exploring a small, rugged corner of the state of Wyoming, I spied a sunflower in a rocky, dry place where sagebrush, nettles, prickly cactus, and other scraggly plants grew. It wasn’t as tall as the domestic sunflower, but it was just as bright—and I felt cheered.
This unexpected bright spot in rough terrain reminded me of how life, even for the believer in Jesus, can seem barren and cheerless. Troubles can seem insurmountable, and like the cries of the psalmist David, our prayers sometimes seem to go unheeded: “Hear me, LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” (Psalm 86:1). Like him, we too long for joy (v. 4).
But David goes on to declare that we serve a faithful (v. 11), “compassionate and gracious God” (v. 15), who abounds in love for all who call on Him (v. 5). He does answer (v. 7).
Sometimes in bleak places, God sends a sunflower—an encouraging word or note from a friend; a comforting verse or Bible passage; a beautiful sunrise—that helps us to move forward with a lighter step, with hope. Even as we await the day we experience God’s deliverance out of our difficulty, may we join the psalmist in proclaiming, “You are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God”! (v. 10).
By Alyson Kieda
REFLECT & PRAY
Loving God, thank You for being compassionate and gracious. Help me to remember how You’ve been faithful and answered my prayers in the past—and will again in the future.
Out of what difficult place has God delivered you? During that time, did you experience any “sunflowers” that helped you persevere?
King David is credited with composing seventy-three to seventy-four of the psalms, and Psalm 86 is one of them. Unlike some of David’s songs (see, for example, the superscription of Psalm 51), Psalm 86 contains no comments about the circumstances that prompted its writing, and it appears to contain numerous phrases that appear in other Davidic psalms. However, the key feature of Psalm 86, as observed in The New Bible Commentary, may be that the name Lord appears seven times (vv. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15) using the Hebrew term Adonai, which speaks of God’s sovereignty. As David offers worship and adoration to God, he also presents his needs and concerns to Him—knowing that he’s appealing to the God who not only deserves all his worship and praise, but that He’s the One who can be trusted with all possible outcomes. Bill Crowder