Adonai, The Lord and Master: Psalm 86:3-4

“have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 86:3–4, NIV)

In Psalm 86, there are three names of God used. One is YHWH, God’s personal name, meaning The Existent One, The I Am. The second is Elohim. This name means God. It was first used in Genesis speaking of the Creator. The third name is Adonai. That is the name we will discuss today.

Adonai is the word used for lord or master. It is used of God, but also of human master or rulers. It speaks to authority and leadership. Adonai, the Lord, makes the rules and we as servants follow them.

According to the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, “Adonai, coming from human lips, expressed honor for God and humble submission on the part of the believing person. Adonai, thus, is the name that expresses faith, assurance, security, ready service, and thanksgiving.”*

Psalm 86:3-4 use the name Adonai. “Have mercy on me, Lord.” We see that David uses it specifically to show submission and a humble heart. He would not be asking for mercy from a subordinate. Only someone who has power or authority can show mercy. The definition of mercy from the Oxford Dictionary states, mercy is “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm”. David understands God’s authority and rule.

David also understands that the Lord, Adonai, is a good master. He trusts the Lord to be kind and loving. He depends on God for joy and he trusts that his master is faithful to give him this good gift.

It should be with this same confidence and trust that I come to my Lord, my Adonai, my Master, with an open heart. I know that He is Lord. I know that He is the ruler of all. I know He has all power and authority. But as David says later in Psalm 86, I also know that the Lord, Adonai is “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15, NIV)

I am learning along with David, that Adonai is a Lord and Master I can surrender to without hesitation.

*Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 885). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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