Psalm 86:16
O turn to me, and have mercy on me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your handmaid.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Servant . . . son of thine handmaid.—Comp. Psalm 116:16. The combined expressions imply a homeborn slave. (Comp. Genesis 14:14; Jeremiah 2:14)

Psalm 86:16-17. O turn unto me — As to one thou lovest, and hast a kind and tender concern for. And have mercy upon me — Pity and graciously pardon me, though I have highly offended thee. Give thy strength unto thy servant — To assist, support, and deliver me; and save the son of thy handmaid — Me, who, by thy gracious providence, was born, not of heathen, but of Israelitish parents, and therefore was in covenant with thee from my birth, and whose mother was thy faithful servant, and did entirely devote me to thy service. Show me a token for good, &c. — Vouchsafe me some evident and eminent token of thy good-will to me, for the conviction of mine enemies, and my own comfort; that they who hate me may be ashamed — Of their enmity to me, as they will have reason to be when they perceive that thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me — And that therefore they have been striving against thee, in opposing one whom thou ownest; and have been striving, in vain, to vex and ruin one whom thou thyself hast undertaken to help and comfort. The joy of the saints shall hereafter be the shame of their persecutors. 86:8-17 Our God alone possesses almighty power and infinite love. Christ is the way and the truth. And the believing soul will be more desirous to be taught the way and the truth. And the believing soul will be more desirous to be taught the way and the truth of God, in order to walk therein, than to be delivered out of earthly distress. Those who set not the Lord before them, seek after believers' souls; but the compassion, mercy, and truth of God, will be their refuge and consolation. And those whose parents were the servants of the Lord, may urge this as a plea why he should hear and help them. In considering David's experience, and that of the believer, we must not lose sight of Him, who though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich.O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me - Look upon me; as if God were now turned away, and were unmindful of his danger, his needs, and his pleading. The expression is equivalent to those in which he prays that God would incline his ear to him. See Psalm 86:1, Psalm 86:6, and the notes at Psalm 5:1.

Give thy strength unto thy servant - Give such strength as proceeds from thee, and such as will accomplish what thou alone canst effect. Enable me to act as if clothed with divine power. The ground of the plea here is, that he was the "servant" of God, and he might, therefore, hope for God's interposition.

And save the son of thine handmaid - This is, as far as I know, the only separate allusion which David ever makes to his mother individually, unless the passage in Psalm 35:14 - "I bowed down heavily as one that mourneth for his mother" - be supposed to refer to his own mother. But we have elsewhere no such mention of his mother as can give us any idea of her character, and indeed it is not easy to determine who she was. The language here, however, would seem to imply that she was a pious woman, for the words "thy handmaid," as employed in the Scriptures, would most naturally suggest that idea. If so, then the ground of the plea here is that his mother was a child of God; that she had lived for his service; and that she had trained up her children for him. David now prays that, as he had been devoted to God by her, and had thus been trained up, God would remember all this, and would interfere in his behalf. Can it be wrong to urge before God, as a reason for his interposition, that we have been devoted to him by parental faithfulness and prayer; that we have been consecrated to him by baptism; that we have been trained up for his service; that in reference to us high hopes were cherished that we might carry out the purposes of pious parents, and live to accomplish what was so dear to their hearts? He who has had a pious mother has entered on life under great advantages; he has been placed under solemn responsibilites; he is permitted to hope that a mother's prayers will not be forgotten, but that her example, her teachings, and her piety will shed a hallowed influence on all the paths of life until he joins her in heaven.

16. son … handmaid—homeborn servant (compare Lu 15:17). Give thy strength, to assist, support, and save me. Me, who by thy gracious providence was born not of heathen, but of Israelitish parents, and therefore was in covenant with thee from my birth, and whose mother was thy faithful servant, and did entirely devote me to thy service. O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me,.... For it seems the Lord had turned away from him, and had hid his face, and withheld the manifestation of his grace and mercy from him, and had not yielded him the help and assistance he expected; and therefore entreats that he would turn again to him, and show him his face and favour, and be merciful to him:

give thy strength unto thy servant; spiritual strength, strength in his soul, to exercise grace, perform duty, bear the cross, and stand up against all enemies, and hold out to the end: this is God's gift; and the psalmist pleads his relation to him as his servant, not merely by creation, but by grace; this is interpreted by the Jews of the King Messiah (u):

and save the son of thine handmaid; out of the hands of those that were risen up against him; see Psalm 119:94. Some think this has a special reference to Christ, who was made of a woman, called an handmaid, Luke 1:48, born of a virgin, the son of Mary: Arama says David uses the word "handmaid", because he sprung from Ruth the Moabitess.

(u) Zohar in Gen. fol. 58. 4. & 59. 1.

O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the {l} son of thine handmaid.

(l) He boasts not of his own virtues, but confesses that God of his free goodness has always been merciful to him, and given him power against his enemies, as to one of his own household.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. O turn &c.] From Psalm 25:16.

have mercy upon me] Render, be gracious unto me, to shew the connexion with the attribute ‘gracious’ in Psalm 86:15.

thy servant … the son of thine handmaid] Cp. Psalm 116:16. ‘The son of thine handmaid’ is a synonym for ‘thy servant,’ denoting a closer relationship, for servants ‘born in the house’ (Genesis 14:14) were the most trusted dependents. Cp. “of the household of God,” Ephesians 2:19. It has been conjectured that the Psalmist, like Samuel, was early dedicated to the service of God; but the words do not necessarily convey this meaning.Verse 16. - Oh turn unto me, and have mercy upon me. God had for a time turned his face away from his servant; now he is entreated to turn it towards him, and, as a consequence, to "have mercy upon him" and deliver him. Give thy strength unto thy servant. Only in God's strength can we effectually contend against either our spiritual or our temporal foes. If, however, we ask him for strength, his strength will be "sufficient for us" (2 Corinthians 12:9). And save the son of thine handmaid. Either "the son of one who was specially religious," like the mother of Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). or" the son of an Israelitish mother," therefore born and bred up in thy household. Here, too, almost everything is an echo of earlier language of the Psalms and of the Law; viz., Psalm 86:7 follows Psalm 17:6 and other passages; Psalm 86:8 is taken from Exodus 15:11, cf. Psalm 89:9, where, however, אלהים, gods, is avoided; Psalm 86:8 follows Deuteronomy 3:24; Psalm 86:9 follows Psalm 22:28; Psalm 86:11 is taken from Psalm 27:11; Psalm 86:11 from Psalm 26:3; Psalm 86:13, שׁאול תּחתּיּה from Deuteronomy 32:22, where instead of this it is תּחתּית, just as in Psalm 130:2 תּחנוּני (supplicatory prayer) instead of תּחנוּנותי (importunate supplications); and also Psalm 86:10 (cf. Psalm 72:18) is a doxological formula that was already in existence. The construction הקשׁיב בּ is the same as in Psalm 66:19. But although for the most part flowing on only in the language of prayer borrowed from earlier periods, this Psalm is, moreover, not without remarkable significance and beauty. With the confession of the incomparableness of the Lord is combined the prospect of the recognition of the incomparable One throughout the nations of the earth. This clear unallegorical prediction of the conversion of the heathen is the principal parallel to Revelation 15:4. "All nations, which Thou hast made" - they have their being from Thee; and although they have forgotten it (vid., Psalm 9:18), they will nevertheless at last come to recognise it. כּל־גּוים, since the article is wanting, are nations of all tribes (countries and nationalities); cf. Jeremiah 16:16 with Psalm 22:18; Tobit 13:11, ἔθνη πολλά, with ibid. Psalm 14:6, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. And how weightily brief and charming is the petition in Psalm 86:11 : uni cor meum, ut timeat nomen tuum! Luther has rightly departed from the renderings of the lxx, Syriac, and Vulgate: laetetur (יחדּ from חדה). The meaning, however, is not so much "keep my heart near to the only thing," as "direct all its powers and concentrate them on the one thing." The following group shows us what is the meaning of the deliverance out of the hell beneath (שׁאול תּחתּיּה, like ארץ תּחתּית, the earth beneath, the inner parts of the earth, Ezekiel 31:14.), for which the poet promises beforehand to manifest his thankfulness (כּי, Psalm 86:13, as in Psalm 56:14).
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