The Acceptable Year of the Lord

In Psalm 69, David pleads with God to save Him. He feels like he is sinking. He needs to be rescued. At one point in the psalm, he cries out:

My prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.

Psalm 69:13

What did he mean by “in an acceptable time?”

The Hebrew word translated “acceptable” in that passage is ratson (רָצוֹן), which means goodwill, favor, or acceptance. It’s actually a noun, not an adjective, so some English translations of the Bible render the phrase as “a time of acceptance” (Smith’s Literal Translation) or “a time of your favor” (NIV). One translation even makes the plea more tentative: “I keep praying to you, LORD, hoping this time you will show me favor” (New Living Translation). (See parallel translations of Psalm 69:13 on

So an acceptable time is a time in which God is willing to accept and act upon our pleas for help.

Isaiah borrowed this phrase as he reminded his people that God answers prayers:

Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee,

Isaiah 49:8; see also 2 Nephi 21:8

The apostle Paul quoted Isaiah’s promise, with the following crucial clarification:

For [God] saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2, italics added

…which reminds me of Amulek’s declaration to the Zoramites:

I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

Alma 34:31, italics added

So the testimony of Paul and of Amulek is that the “acceptable time” David yearned for is right now. God is willing to hear us and to save us today.

All of which helps to explain a subsequent passage from Isaiah. Speaking on behalf of the future Messiah, Isaiah says:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

Isaiah 61:1-2, italics added

When Jesus quotes this passage at the beginning of His ministry, the final phrase says, “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19, italics added).

What does it mean to “preach” or “proclaim” the acceptable year of the Lord? I think it’s the same thing Paul and Amulek did: announce that the favorable time to seek His help is right now. The Savior made salvation possible, so He is the ultimate declarer of that truth, but His prophets also publish that message to the world. (See Mosiah 15:18.)

So the “acceptable year,” or as some translations have it, “the year of the Lord’s favor,” is this year. Jesus came to proclaim that salvation is available to us as quickly as we are willing to be saved.

Today, I will be grateful that God hears and answers my prayers. I will remember the immediacy of His grace, and I will strive to match that immediacy by responding quickly to His guidance.

2 thoughts on “The Acceptable Year of the Lord

Add yours

  1. As always wonderful insights Brother Anderson!! Thank you for these daily inspirations!! I share them with my hubby, family and CFM group as well as often put them in my scripture notes online. Just a heads up your Mosiah 15:18 goes to the correct link but is not seen as that in your blog.
    I love how you reference also the Greek and Hebrew and gives us language insights we may not have considered! Love the Bible Hub and Blue letter Bible.
    Thank you again!


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