PSALM 143.

A Prayer of Repentance and a Sigh for Mercy.

A psalm of David, which sets forth the fundamental facts concerning sin and grace, for which reason it was reckoned by Luther with the Pauline psalms. V. 1. Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications, in which he implores the Lordís help and mercy; in Thy faithfulness, by which God keeps His promises, answer me, and in Thy righteousness, which He shows in relieving those who walk before Him in obedience to His holy will. V. 2. And enter not into judgment with Thy servant, dealing with him according to His strict and absolute justice; for in Thy sight, before the all seeing eye of the omniscient God, shall no man living be justified, not one human being can stand before God in his own righteousness, allege the perfection of his life and conduct. It is only by realizing and acknowledging his sinfulness without reserve and throwing himself entirely upon the mercy of the Lord that any person can expect justification, namely, by means of the righteousness of Christ imputed to him. V. 3. For the enemy hath persecuted my soul, seeking to obtain the highest good which he possessed; he hath smitten my life down to the ground, almost succeeding in his evil intention; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead, that is, Davidís enemies intended his utter destruction, they wanted him to sleep the sleep of eternal death, and he realized that he would remain without deliverance, unless God Himself in mercy would take up his defense. V. 4. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me, being faint by reason of the long duration of his trials; my heart within me is desolate, not only forsaken, but almost rigid and motionless with fear and terror. V. 5. I remember the days of old, when Jehovah was so evidently on his side; I meditate on all Thy works, thinking over the many manifestations of Godís mercy and salvation in his life; I muse on the work of Thy hands, Godís guidance being so evident in the history of Israel. V. 6. I stretch forth my hands unto Thee, in a gesture denoting both helplessness and absolute reliance upon the mercy of the Lord; my soul thirsteth after Thee as a thirsty land, languishing with desire for His help, as a thirsty land for rain. Selah. V. 7. Hear me speedily, O Lord, for haste was essential in this great emergency; my spirit faileth, almost consumed with languishing. Hide not Thy face from me, in anger, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit; repudiated by God, there is only one alternative, eternal destruction. With this fate following an angry demonstration on the part of God, the psalmist once more turns to Him in a fervent appeal, v. 8. Cause me to hear Thy loving-kindness in the morning, so that with the dawn of the new day the night of tribulation might be definitely ended; for in Thee do I trust, Ps. 90, 14. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, that which finds the full approval of the Lord; for I lift up my soul unto Thee, in longing for salvation and in firm confidence of faith. V. 9. Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies; I flee unto Thee to hide me, that is, he flees to the Lord as his true Refuge, seeking safety with Him alone. In possession of salvation, however, the Lordís servant desires to be in possession of sanctification also. V. 10. Teach me to do Thy will, to conduct himself in all his dealings in accordance with Godís good pleasure; for Thou art my God, and the heart of the believer, joined with that of his heavenly Father, his highest good, in the most intimate fellowship, seeks only to conform in his whole life to the standard of Godís holy will. Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness, or, ďThy good Spirit,Ē whose work is done in the hearts of the believers through the means of grace, ďlead me in a level land,Ē where the roads have been prepared by the Lord Himself, Is. 26, 7; Ps. 23, 3. V. 11. Quicken me, O Lord, for Thy nameís sake, in order that the name of God, especially His mercy and love, might be magnified in consequence of His act of deliverance; for Thy righteousnessí sake bring my soul out of trouble, out of all distress and tribulation with which David was then contending. V. 12. And of Thy mercy, both by reason of His mercy and in order to make it known, cut off mine enemies and destroy all them that afflict my soul, by oppressions as described in this psalm; for I am Thy servant, and in helping him the Lord would magnify His own glory. Thus the hope of all believers and their constant prayer is in the mercy of God.