Psalms 143


The psalmist prays for mercy, and deprecates judgment, 1, 2.

His persecutions, 3.

His earnest prayer for deliverance, 4-9.

Prays for God's quickening Spirit, 10, 11.

And for the total discomfiture of his adversaries, 12.


The Hebrew and all the Versions attribute this Psalm to David;

and the Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic and Arabic state that it

was composed on the rebellion of his son Absalom: nor is there any

thing in the Psalm that positively disagrees with this

inscription. This is the last of the seven Psalms styled


Verse 1. In thy faithfulness answer me] Thou hast promised to

support me in my difficulties, and, though my children should

forsake me, never to withdraw thy loving-kindness from me. See the

present unnatural rebellion of my son. Lord, undertake for me!

Verse 2. Enter not into judgment] al tabo. Do not come

into court, either as a Witness against me, or as a Judge, else I

am ruined; for thou hast seen all my ways that they are evil, and

thy justice requires thee to punish me. Nor can any soul that has

ever lived be justified in the sight of thy justice and

righteousness. Had I my desert from thee, I should have worse than

even my unnatural son intends me. O what a relief is Jesus

crucified to a soul in such circumstances!

Verse 3. He hath made me to dwell in darkness] Literally, in

dark places. This may be understood of David's taking refuge in

caves and dens of the earth, to escape from his persecuting son;

yea, even to take refuge in the tombs, or repositories of the


Verse 4. Therefore is my spirit] I am deeply depressed in

spirit, and greatly afflicted in body.

My heart within me is desolate.] It has no companion of its

sorrows, no sympathetic friend. I am utterly destitute of comfort.

Verse 5. I remember the days of old] Thou hast often helped me,

often delivered me. I will therefore trust in thee, for thy mercy

is not clean gone from me.

Verse 6. I stretch forth my hands] This is a natural action. All

in distress, or under the influence of eager desire, naturally

extend their hands and arms, as if to catch at help and obtain


As a thirsty land.] Parched and burned by the sun, longs for

rain, so does my thirsty soul for the living God.

Verse 7. Hear me speedily] maher, make haste to answer me.

A few hours, and my state may be irretrievable. In a short time my

unnatural son may put an end to my life.

Verse 8. Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning]

This petition was probably offered in the night-season. David had

despatched his messengers in all directions; and prays to God that

he might by the morning get some good news.

Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk] Absalom and his

partisans are in possession of all the country. I know not in what

direction to go, that I may not fall in with them: point out by

thy especial providence the path I should take.

Verse 9. I flee unto thee to hide me.] That I may not be found

by my enemies, who seek my life to destroy it.

Verse 10. Teach me to do thy will] retsonecha, thy

pleasure. To be found doing the will of God is the only safe

state for man.

Thy Spirit is good] The Author of every good desire and holy


Lead me] Let it lead me by its continued inspirations and


Into the land of uprightness.] "Into a right land," CHALDEE.

Into the place where I shall be safe. The old Psalter has, Thi

goste gude sal lede me into rygt lande.

Verse 11. Quicken me] I am as a dead man, and my hopes are

almost dead within me.

Verse 12. And of thy mercy] To me and the kingdom.

Cut off mine enemies] Who, if they succeed, will destroy the

very form of godliness. The steps he has already taken show that

even morality shall have no countenance, if Absalom reign.

I am thy servant.] Whoever is disloyal to me, I will love and

serve thee.

For a full explanation of this Psalm, as applied to penitents,

see the analysis.


David, being driven from Jerusalem by his son Absalom, wisely

calls to mind his sin, as being the cause of it.

This Psalm has four parts:-

I. A prayer for remission of sin, grounded on God's promise,

Ps 143:1; not on his own worthiness, Ps 143:2.

II. A narration of the sad state of his affairs, Ps 143:3, 4.

III. The comfort he received in his sad condition, and whence,

Ps 143:5, 6.

IV. His petition, containing many particulars and reasons,

Ps 143:7-12.

I. He prays for audience: "Hear my prayer, O Lord," &c. He does

not plainly express the matter he prayed for; but it may be

gathered from the context that it was for remission of sin.

1. "In thy faithfulness," &c. Thou art a faithful God, and hast

promised to pardon the penitent. I am a penitent; have mercy on


2. "And in thy righteousness," &c. Which here signifies mercy,


This sense appears more plainly from the next verse.

1. "And enter not into judgment," &c. Call me not to a strict

account at the bar of thy justice. This he deprecates; so that

Justitia in the former verse could not be taken for that


2. "For in thy sight," &c. Not I, nor any other man: pardon me,

then, for the sake of thy mercy and promise, not my merits.

II. And now he enters upon the narration of his sad condition.

1. "For the enemy hath persecuted," &c. My son Absalom seeks my

life: but it was Satan who enticed me to adultery and homicide.

2. "He hath smitten," &c. Humbled me; made me a lover of earth,

vile in thy sight.

3. "He hath made me to dwell," &c. After Satan had entangled me

with earthly pleasures, I was in spiritual darkness, and saw not

the way of life, any more than those who have been long dead.

The effect this darkness produced was fear and consternation.

1. "Therefore is my spirit," &c. I suffered a kind of swoon in

my soul; I was ready to faint when I considered thy holiness and

my impurity.

2. "My heart within me," &c. Far from comfort in heavy trouble.

III. In this sadness of heart and mind,-

1. "I remember the days of old," &c. Thy past kindness to me and

to others.

2. "I meditate," &c. I did not slightly run them over, but

pondered on them.

And I derived great profit from my meditation; for,

1. "I stretch forth my hands," &c. I began earnestly to pray to


2. "My soul thirsteth," &c. After thy righteousness, as the dry

land wanting water. For as the earth without rain has no

consistence, but is pulverized; so the soul not moistened with the

grace of God falls on the right and left hand into temptation, and

brings forth no fruit to God's glory.

IV. The sad case in which David was, upon a sense of God's

indignation, makes him seek out a remedy.

1. "Hear me speedily," &c. And his reason for this is the sad

condition in which he was till God was pacified for his sin.

2. "Hide not thy face," &c. Thy presence, thy favour.

His next petition resembles the former in substance.

1. "Cause me to hear," &c. Thy pardoning mercy out of thy word;

it is thy Spirit which must work with it to save me.

2. "In the morning," &c. Betimes, speedily, quickly, &c.

3. His reason: "For in thee do I trust," &c. I did not let go my

hold even in my extremity; but still hoped against hope.

His third petition is-

1. "Cause me to know," &c. The psalmist. being truly penitent,

fears to relapse into his pardoned sin, and prays to God for grace

and direction.

2. His reason: "For I lift up my soul," &c. My purpose, to serve


His fourth petition is-

1. "Deliver me, O Lord," &c. From the devil and all his


2. His reason: "I flee unto thee," &c. From them.

His fifth petition resembles his third.

1. "Teach me to do thy will," &c. Both by an active and passive

obedience may I know thy will perfectly; in adversity, to submit

to it; in prosperity, to do it without pride or presumption.

2. His reason: "For thou art my God." Who hast promised me thy

help; and from whom all my good proceeds, being and well-being.

His sixth petition: "Thy Spirit is good." Not mine. Let then thy

good Spirit instruct and lead me in the right way.

His seventh petition is-

1. "Quicken me, O Lord," &c. Restore life; justify me fully.

2. "For thy name's sake." Not my merits, but thy mercy, and the

glory that will accrue to thy name in pardoning a penitent soul.

3. He goes on: "For thy righteousness' sake," &c. Freedom he

desires; but still at the hands of God's infinite mercy.

His last petition is for the destruction of Satan's kingdom.

1. "Of thy mercy cut off mine enemies," &c.

2. His reason: "For I am thy servant," &c. A follower; one under

thy patronage and protection; one of thy family honoured with the

dignity of being thy servant, and well contented and pleased to

perform my duty and service.

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