Hovering over another song of David this morning, Psalm 86. A prayer song. A desperate prayer song.
Insolent, arrogant, proud, presumptuous men had risen up against him. A band of ruthless men who sought to take his life. Men devoid of a God context, driven solely by ambition and who’s god was their strength.
David is, by his own admission, poor and needy. His soul is weighed down. His endurance waning.
Yet praise still pours forth as his focus remains fixed. Fixed on his God who is good and forgiving. Locked on his God who is above all other gods, whose works compare with no other. Centered on the One whom he has known to be merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
And so, David cries out to God. “Answer me,” he says, “Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.”
And I notice six specific petitions:
- Preserve my life (v.2)
- Gladden my soul (v. 4)
- Teach me Your way (v. 11)
- Unite my heart (v. 11)
- Give me Your strength (v.16)
- Show me a sign (v.17)
Show me a sign. That’s the one I’m chewing on this morning.
Show me a sign of Your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because You, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.
(Psalm 86:17 ESV)
At first I read it as, “Show me a sign, do something that says You’re aware. Wave a flag of some sort. Give me something to work with here.” A legit request I’m thinking.
When the soul is mired in “the depths of Sheol” who wouldn’t want to see some sort of lifeline? When the back is bowed, the eyes are downcast, who wouldn’t want an encounter of the divine kind, be it even a tiny one, to encourage the heart, lift up the soul, and renew the inner man? Do something, LORD, anything! Indicate in some way that You hear my prayers and are engaged in my circumstance.
Show me a sign. Bring to my attention some indicator of Your grace and favor. Let me know Your presence.
But as I meditate on the verse I realize it can also read, “Show me as a sign. Make me a proof that you are merciful and gracious. Use me, and my situation, to show others, even my enemies, that You are the God who helps and the God of comfort.” Let me be the banner that bears witness that there is none like You. Let me, in this desperate, soul-draining situation, be corroborating evidence that You are, in fact, “good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You” (v.5).
Show me a sign. If even as a feeble demonstration, through me display Your all sufficient grace. Heed my prayers that others might get a glimpse of Your glory. That those who are connected to my story might see Your power.
Show me a sign by Your grace. Show me a sign for Your glory.