“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
The term “godly” likely brings with it a lot of suppositions. Varying judgments on what it means and who the people are that think of themselves as such. Reading this psalm, it was impressed upon me what this description doesn’t mean.
Being godly doesn’t mean that we’re strong and self-sufficient. We don’t have everything figured out. We don’t get everything right. The writer, David, calls himself “poor and needy.” That’s why he’s crying out to God. That’s why he needs Him. Because David recognizes that he can’t get through this on his own. Later on in the psalm, he says, “Teach me your way, O LORD…unite my heart to fear your name” (86:11). His heart is still divided at times, torn between fearing His Lord and following his own desires. He is still learning what it is to walk through this life with God, still striving to honor and glorify his King as he seeks to learn what that means. David prays for strength (86:16). He speaks of trouble and distresses (86:7, 14). Our lives don’t have to be void of these characteristics for us have this term applied to us, to be among those righteous before God, those heard by Him and delivered in grace.
So what does this tell us about the godly? Probably the most important detail is this: they trust in God. Even when they feel weak, poor, and needy, even when there are troubles surrounding them, they look to their Lord and trust that He hears them. That faith means that we believe who our God is. We believe that He is who He claims to be, that He will accomplish His purposes and fulfill His promises. It is a faith that defines our lives and our mindset. There will be moments in our fallen human state when our faith falters. But God Himself upholds us. So the godly regain their footing, renew their faith, and refocus on their Savior. The godly are those who call on the Lord and admit their need. They don’t try to appear stronger or better than they are. They cry out to God and pray for strength. And He fills them. God provides for the godly. He fills them with Himself. He shows them signs of His favor and opens their eyes to His abounding steadfast love and faithfulness.
Perhaps the word “godly” is simply a term for one who seeks after God. One who trusts Him and desires to love Him wholeheartedly. It isn’t a term for the perfect and prideful. It doesn’t mean we think we’re gods ourselves. It means that we want to be a reflection of the true, living God,so that His glory will shine through our lives.