English Basic Explanation - Chapter 86
Psalm 86 is a prayer composed by David beseeching God to save him from his adversaries. The Radak (verse 1) speculates that David wrote this prayer – as he wrote many of the Tehillim – during the period when he fled from King Shaul. David describes himself here as a pauper (verse 1), which, as the Radak notes, accurately expresses his condition during his flight from Shaul. Just as an impoverished man cannot sustain himself and relies on the generosity and kindness of others for his very survival, so was David incapable during this period of surviving independently. He was entirely dependent upon the grace, assistance and goodwill of his supporters who fed him and protected him from Shaul and his cohorts.
In the middle of this prayer David emphasizes that he has turned to the Almighty for help
"for You will answer me" (verse 7). As David proceeds to explain (verses 8-10), God differs from all other so-called deities in that He actually has the capacity to offer assistance. Eventually, David foresees, even the pagan nations will arrive at the recognition of God as the supreme ruler over the earth, for only He can perform wonders and miracles, and exerts full control and authority over the world.
One particularly intriguing feature of this chapter is David's petition that God protect him "Ki Hasid Ani" – "for I am pious" (verse 2). The Radak records that many writers questioned the propriety of David's seemingly self-adulating description of himself as "pious." Can anyone – even a man as righteous as David! – honestly approach God and make such a claim?
The Radak explains that David speaks of himself as "pious" only in relation to his foes, who relentlessly pursue him without any cause or provocation, whereas he avoids harming his enemies at all costs and wishes for their well-being.
Rashi cites a different explanation from the Talmud (Berachot 4a), according to which David here contrasts himself with the other monarchs of the time. As opposed to other kings, who delegate less desirable chores to their subjects, David spent his days examining bodily discharges to determine women's halachic status. Furthermore, whereas other rulers saw their decisions as indisputably authoritative, David would consult with his Rabbi, Mefiboshet, before issuing a halachic ruling. Thus, David here does not avow his perfect piety, but rather his humility and unassuming character that set him apart from the other monarchs of time. (Of course, this approach assumes that David composed this prayer when he was already king, which contrasts with the Radak's view, that this prayer was written as David fled from Shaul.)