When We Feel Poor and Needy

Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy (Psalm 86:1).

Many people today feel like many who lived in the days of King David and in the days of Jesus. For this reason, many who see themselves poor and needy, if not materially then spiritually, receive help from the Psalms written by David and the teaching and presence of Jesus. Even as David prayed, many can pray today, “Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” (Psalms 86: 1). After David told God that he felt poor and needy, he prayed for what he knew he needed most from God. God answered David’s prayer in ways that David does not totally reveal. God also answered David’s prayer for us when God sent Jesus into the world and when Jesus comes to live with us, empower us, and guide us.

In Psalms 86:11, David asked the LORD, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” We do not know if David prayed this prayer when he was a poor shepherd boy or after he became king and was bowed down under his sins or the responsibility of leading Israel wisely according to the law of God. We do know that if we are spiritually poor and needy or physically poor and needy or conscious of our guilt and sin God answered David’s prayer and God will answer our prayers by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.

Notice: David asked the LORD, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth.” Even though David was poor and needy, he wanted to walk in the truth of God, which was more important to David than God meeting his personal needs. If or when we are poor and needy, do we want to walk in the truth of God? Is walking in the truth of God more important to us than having God give us what we want in material ways?

Though David committed some grievous sins, we know from his psalms that he practiced walking in the truth of God, though imperfectly, as the LORD led him. God also answered at David’s prayer for those who heard Jesus teach as He walked on Earth, and God does so for us when we turn to Jesus. Remember what Jesus promised in John 14:6- 7, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

If we seek God and pray, “Teach me your way, O LORD,” we only need to look to Jesus, Who is the Way, for our answer—just as Jesus has revealed himself in the Bible. The Way, the teaching of the Way, is not a new set of laws, commandments, or recommendations. The Way is the living Person, Jesus the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God. When we go to Jesus, we find Jesus is already near us, and He will empower us and lead us daily and personally according to His teachings in the Bible.

When we follow Jesus, He answers the second part of David’s prayer for us. David wanted to walk in the truth of God. When we walk with the Way and walk in the Way as Jesus leads, we walk in the Truth of God, Who is Jesus. When we walk in the Truth of God, we have spiritual life because Jesus is the Life. Furthermore, though we may be poor and needy in this world, Jesus, Who reigns as King of the universe, lives with us and within us, and He helps us day-by-day to trust Him and follow Him. Jesus gives us the Truth and the Life we seek as we walk with Him Who is our Way. Beyond all this, when we believe in and trust Jesus, Jesus will come to live within us and set up His kingly throne within our hearts. He will heal our divided hearts with His abundant love. With hearts made whole, we can pray with confidence and practice what Jesus taught in John 15:7-10, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

When Jesus comes and brings the love of God into our hearts, we will pray as David did in Psalms 86:12, “I give thanks to you, O LORD, my God (see how personal the LORD has become to David) with my whole heart (the LORD has made David’s heart whole as Jesus does for everyone who trusts Him) and I will glorify (keep Jesus’ commandments to love God and others) your name forever.”

Why did God do all this for David and why does God do all this for all who follow Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? In Psalms 86: 13, David tells us why: “For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.” No matter what, Jesus loves. When we seek to follow Jesus, we experience His love more and more; we love Jesus more and more; we know Jesus’ deliverance from our deepest distress, and we know of His forgiveness of our worst sins—of ALL our sins. We know Jesus, His love, and His deliverance of us from the depths Sheol, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As followers of Jesus, we know something of the greatness of God’s steadfast love, and we pray for God to give us whole hearts to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. — L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Begin a study of the Gospel of John, with verse-by-verse commentaries, Bible Lessons, Study Questions, Study Hints, Applications, Crossword Puzzles, True and False Tests, and Word Search Puzzles, and Prayers. — L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.