Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. – Psalm 86:1-2 ESV
God doesn’t need me. As great as I may think I am and as many wonderful attributes I believe I may have, the reality is that God can get along quite well without me. He doesn’t need my help. He can survive without my worship. His plan for the world will still take place even if I’m not in the picture. I am a non-essential when it comes to God’s sovereign plan for the universe. Admittedly, that’s a hard concept for some of us to grasp. We want to be important. We desire greatly to be significant in some way. But King David put it succinctly. “…what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4 ESV). Our only significance comes from the fact that we are created in the image of God. We are His workmanship. It is He who gives us value. As believers, it is our relationship with Jesus Christ that provides us with our worth. As a result of His death on the cross, His righteousness became ours. He took on our sins and condemnation, and His righteousness was imputed to us. Therefore, we have value in God’s eyes. But it is not due to anything we have done. It is “not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:9 ESV)
In his psalm, David comes before God as “poor and needy.” That’s an interesting self-description for the King of Israel to use, since he was one of the wealthiest men alive and had great wealth and power at his disposal. Yet he knew that he was a man in great need – in need of God. He needed God to hear him and answer him. He needed God’s protection and direction. His armies were nothing without God’s leadership. His wealth was insignificant if he didn’t have God’s daily provision of joy, peace, and contentment. He was the warrior-king who had experienced great victories and accomplished amazing feats of bravery. Yet he knew he needed God to prolong and protect his life. He was nothing without God.
Which is why David called out to God. “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul” (Psalm 86:3-4 ESV). He needed God’s grace. He depended upon God for joy. He was totally reliant upon God for inner strength and moral fortitude. David knew his weaknesses. He knew he was sin-prone and self-centered. He knew he was fully capable of not only disobeying God, but dishonoring Him as well. David asked God to save him; not just from his enemies, but from himself. Like all of us, he could be his own worst enemy. His sin nature could wreak havoc on his relationship with God. So he humbly came to God for help, for hope, and for His mercy and favor.
David goes on to ask something from God. “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:11 ESV). He knew he needed God’s help in order to live his life according to God’s truth. He couldn’t do it on his own. He was incapable of learning what he needed to know, so he asked God to teach him. He even asked God to work on his heart so that he might fear Him. The NET Bible translates that verses this way: “Make me wholeheartedly committed to you!” The New Living Translation gives it a slightly different twist. “Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.” He needed God to literally “bind” his heart so that he would live in a way that honors God. David was familiar with the words of Jeremiah. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV). So even his heart needed God’s help in order to stay united, faithful, true and wholeheartedly committed to God’s cause.
A healthy awareness of our neediness and spiritual poverty apart from God is missing from many of our lives. We have developed an arrogance and attitude of deservedness that somehow makes us believe God is somehow obligated to love us and bless us. David knew better. He recognized the fact that he was completely dependent upon God for all that he had and needed God’s help in every area of his life. Humble dependence is a necessity for the child of God. It reveals our complete reliance upon God for everything. In the old hymn, Rock of Ages, there is a line that expresses the attitude we should hold. It says,…
Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.
Humble dependence. We are needy and poor. We are naked and helpless. But when we bring our need to God, we find grace, mercy, help, hope, healing, power, forgiveness, acceptance, and the love of a holy Father who sees us as His own child.