Not all of you may remember this incident, but we all have days when we feel like the cyclist who accidentally dropped the Olympic torch on its way to Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Games. The flame on the torch went out when the accident happened, but the cyclist’s mistake was quickly taken care of because a van carrying the original flame followed the torch during the entire relay. The people in charge simply relit the torch, and the relay continued.
In one sense, this is what God does for us when we come to Him in prayer. There are many times that we lose our grip and drop the torch. But, praise God, His goodness is an eternal flame! David penned these words in Psalms 86:5, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” His words are truth and I would like to remind you; God hears and answers our prayers!
David knew the God who responds to the prayers of His people. Because there is more in this chapter than we could get our minds around in a few words, let me encourage you to read the entire chapter. Its structure is interesting. The opening and closing sections are filled with requests, surrounding a section of praise and adoration (vv. 8-13). Every word, however, is aimed at extolling the goodness, mercy, and lovingkindness of God.
Clearly, David’s “flame” was low, if not out, when he wrote these words. He was under attack from his enemies, “the assemblies of violent men” (v. 14). You probably don’t have that many human enemies, but you may feel that circumstances gang up on you from time to time. Those are definitely times when you need mercy and strength from God (v. 16).
Look at the terms David used to describe his relationship with God. He was devoted (“I am holy” – v. 2). Three times, David called himself God’s servant (vv. 2, 4, 16). He feared and glorified God’s name (vv. 11-12) and recognized that he was the object of God’s great love (v. 13).
These signs of relationship entitled David to ask God for a fresh sense (“token”) of His goodness (v. 17). If you know the Lord as your Savior, you have that privilege too! Verse one says, “Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.” We are privileged to be able to call on a God who hears and answers prayer.
Perhaps you are going through a dark time in your life right now, need God to answer your prayer, but you long ago dropped the ‘torch’ of your relationship with Him. Be encouraged today, God has an eternal flame! He will restore your torch and renew your relationship with Him if you ask Him to do so. David reminds us in v. 15, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” Call on Him right now; unburden your soul to Him! He will run to your rescue and relit your torch again! Bow your head right now and ask Him to do so!
The writer is the pastor at First Baptist Church, 309 E. North St., Sidney.