Father, as I bow before you, I sense your nourishing, encouraging, healing love. Hallelujah, I am loved and forgiven.
Read PSALM 143
A psalm of David.
1 Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]
7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
- Psalm 143:6 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’1
In Psalm 143 David acknowledges two kinds of enemy, one within (his propensity to sin), the other without (referring to external opponents). Before he can expect God to act in his favor by rescuing him from the latter (vs 3,9,12), he cries to God for mercy and the forgiveness of his own sins (vs 1–2). This is most instructive for us about how we should pray at times of great difficulty.
By confessing that he himself needs mercy, David shows that, when adversity comes, we must not imagine that God should deliver us on the basis of our own righteousness. Rather, we base our plea on God’s ‘faithfulness and righteousness’ (v 1). For Christians this means praying to God in the name of Jesus, believing that God will hear us because of the new covenant in Christ’s blood that pardons and cleanses us. Let us never forget our need to remove the plank from our own eye before attending to the speck in somebody else’s!2
Nevertheless, humbly remembering that we can demand nothing of God does not rid us of the real threat posed by whoever (or whatever) is attacking us. David takes great comfort reminding himself of God’s past deliverances (v 5). That encourages him to trust God for his help in the present circumstances. It is God alone who can provide him with guidance and shelter now (vs 8–10). There are times when we need God to show us what we can or should do. At other times there is nothing we can or should do but rest in God’s ‘unfailing love’ (vs 8,12). These two words translate the Hebrew hesed, a grace-filled love based on God’s covenant promise never to leave or forsake his people – the best resting-place of all!
‘For the sake of your reputation, O Lord, forgive my sin, because it is great.’3 What has God’s reputation got to do with my forgiveness?
Amazing God, in Christ I no longer fear condemnation or separation. In the face of this I cannot contain my praise.
1 1 Pet 5:7 2 Matt 7:3–5 3 Ps 25:11, NET
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