Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 86:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

O turn unto me - He represents himself as following after God; but he cannot overtake him; and then he plays that he would turn and meet him through pity; or give him strength that he might be able to hold on his race.

Give thy strength unto thy servant - The Vulgate renders, Daniel imperium tuum puero tuo, "Give thy empire to thy child." The old Psalter. Gyf empyre to thi barne, and make safe the son of thi hand mayden. Thi barne - thy tender child. Anglo-Saxon; thy knave; signifying either a serving man or a male child. As many servants were found to be purloiners of their masters' property, hence the word knave, became the title of an unprincipled servant. The term fur, which signifies a thief in Latin, for the same reason became the appellative of a dishonest servant.

Quid domini facient, audent cum talia Fures?

When servants (thieves) do such things, what may not be expected from the masters?

Virg. Ecl. 3:16.

So Plautus, speaking of a servant, Aulul. 2:46, says: Homo es trium literarum, "Thou art a man of three letters," i.e., Fur, a thief. The word knave is still in use, but is always taken in a bad sense. The paraphrase in the old Psalter states the handmaid to be the kirk, and the son of this handmaid to be a true believer.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 164.1

O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. Psalm 86:16. UL 164.1

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