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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Psalms 143

Verses 1-4

David appealed to God to answer his prayer because God is faithful and righteous. Evidently part of David’s suffering sprang from his own sin, since he asked that God not judge him. If He did, no one could stand because everyone is unrighteous. Another source of distress was an enemy who had ground David down so that he felt very depressed as well as afflicted.

Verses 1-6

1. The psalmist’s complaint 143:1-6

Verses 1-12

Psalms 143

In this penitential psalm, David prayed for deliverance and guidance. As in the previous psalm, he called out for help against evil adversaries. This psalm, too, is an individual lament.

"The psalm sharply contrasts the righteousness of Yahweh, God’s unconditioned inclination toward Israel, and Israel’s righteousness which will carry no freight in time of trouble. The psalm understands the vast and unbridgeable distinction between the two parties." [Note: Brueggemann, p. 104.]

Verses 5-6

In his distress David remembered former better days. He meditated on God’s acts and works. [Note: See Eugene H. Merrill, "Remembering: A Central Theme in Biblical Worship," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43:1 (March 2000):27-36.] He appealed to the Lord, like a desperate man dying from thirst cries out for water.

Verse 7

David requested a quick reply to his prayer, since he felt he would die if one was not forthcoming immediately. Hiding one’s face pictures making oneself inaccessible.

Verses 7-12

2. The psalmist’s petition 143:7-12

Verses 8-12

First, David wanted guidance from God (Psalms 143:8). This would be a fresh morning-like expression of the Lord’s loyal love to His trusting servant. Second, he asked for deliverance from his enemies (Psalms 143:9). Third, he needed teaching from God’s Spirit who would provide safe direction (Psalms 143:10). Fourth, he requested restoration from the attacks of his enemies (Psalms 143:11-12). Each of these petitions also contains some reference to trust in God.

Even when God’s people sin, they can appeal to the Lord for help and restoration on the basis of His faithfulness and righteousness. This psalm beautifully combines humble requests and appreciation for God’s character.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 143". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.