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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 143

Verses 1-2


Psalm 143 is the seventh and last of the ‘penitential psalms’ (Psalms 6; 32; 38; 51; 102; 130; 143). This psalm is a penetrating and persistent prayer in distress from which we can learn.

Psalms 141-143 are a retrospective look at the attack by the enemies of the people in the end times on Jerusalem and the feelings it creates among the remnant. In that attack, the land, the city, and the temple were destroyed and two-thirds of the people were killed (Zechariah 13:8). What David does in Psalm 141 and Psalm 142, spreading his distress before the LORD (Psalms 142:3), is now repeated more deeply and at greater length.

The tone in Psalm 143 is deeper, the need is greater, there is urgency. It feels in Psalms 143:7 as if the funeral is already underway. The psalmist asks if the LORD will destroy the enemy without further delay. The remnant spreads its agony and distress before the LORD, as Hezekiah once did (Isaiah 37:14-Proverbs :).

Psalm 143 bears resemblance to Psalm 140. As in that psalm, David in this psalm cries out to God to save him from his enemies who are about to kill him. We also find here, as in Psalm 140, how during his prayer David grows from despair to trust in God that He will save.

We see here, what we ourselves often experience, that after an acquired trust that God will help, which we see in Psalm 140, we will again find ourselves in need and will again cry out to God, which we see in this psalm. We will also, like David, again have the experience of His salvation.

It is also difficult for us to always live at the same level of faith confidence, although we know so much more of Christ and have received His Spirit indwelling us. That said, such experiences give us a deeper sense of our own littleness and powerlessness and also a greater sense of Who God is.

Call for Answer

For “a Psalm of David” (Psalms 143:1) see at Psalm 3:1.

David is in great distress and turns to God in prayer for relief (Psalms 143:1). For he believes in God as the listening, involved God. He asks Him to hear his prayer and to give ear to his supplications. As ground for being answers he mentions God’s “faithfulness” and God’s “righteousness”. God’s faithfulness is connected to His promises. God’s righteousness is connected to His actions. He does what He promises. His faithfulness and righteousness are based on His covenant. God is faithful and righteous toward the Lord Jesus and His blood when He answers the psalmist’s prayer (1 John 1:9).

David is aware of God’s righteousness and of his own iniquity (Psalms 143:2). He does not appeal to his innocence here, as he does in other psalms (Psalms 130:3). In those cases, it is a false accusation by men. Here he is face to face with God. This causes a soul-searching struggle in him that will also be found in the remnant. The soul struggle is evident in the question of whether the LORD will not enter into judgment with them, for they are aware of their failure.

He asks God to hear him and give ear to him despite his iniquity. In doing so, he takes the place of the supplicant who appeals to the faithfulness and righteousness of God. These are based on the blood of the new covenant, that is, on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary. There is no thought in his mind of ‘a claim’ to be answered. He comes to God as His servant, thus indicating that he claims no right, for a servant has no rights (cf. Luke 17:10).

In the end times, when the remnant is threatened by hostile powers, it will inwardly bring about an agony over their sins. It is about two great sins: the rejection of Christ and the acceptance of antichrist (John 5:43). We see these sins and the torment it causes in his conscience in the life of David as a result of his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. We also see it in the brothers of Joseph who are tormented by their rejection of their brother.

Verses 3-6

Reason for Supplications

The opposition the psalmist experiences is described in general terms, which makes the psalm of general application, even for us (Psalms 143:3). He says that the enemy persecutes his soul and crushes his life to the ground, making him feel that he dwells in dark places, like those who have long been dead (cf. Jeremiah 51:39; Lamentations 3:6). He no longer imagines himself in the land of the living, as one who has been given up by God and men. It does indicate how violently he is persecuted.

In addition to outward persecution, there is also inward pressure. Because of the fierce persecution, his lust to live has perished (Psalms 143:4). His spirit is overwhelmed within him; he is near despair. In his heart is appalled within him. Inside him there is no hope of outcome. This is the situation in which the believing remnant will be because of the threat of their enemies.

His thoughts do not stand still (Psalms 143:5). He remembers, meditates on and muses on what God has done in the past. In thought he goes back to “the days of old” (cf. Psalms 77:5), to God’s dealings with the patriarchs, the formation of His people and their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. He meditates “on all Your doings” and muses “on the work of Your hands”, where, with respect to the remnant, we can think of God’s actions for the deliverance of His own from the hands of the antichrist and the king of the north.

When the faithful remembers God in this way, and meditates and muses on what He has done, he cannot help but stretch out his hands to Him in prayer (Psalms 143:6; cf. Lamentations 1:17). To whom else could he go? He needs God as urgently as parched land is thirsty for rain (cf. Psalms 42:1-Exodus :; Psalms 63:1).

Verses 7-9

Call for Quick Answer

In these verses, the righteous addresses the LORD in his distress with a wide variety of prayers. He begs for a quick answer, he sends the spiritual distress signal SOS to heaven, as it were, for his spirit is failing (Psalms 143:7). As long as God hides His face from him, he feels like “those who go down to the pit” (cf. Psalms 28:1). That is, he feels like dead.

He begs God to let him hear His lovingkindness in the morning, or to let him see the faithfulness to His covenant (Psalms 143:8). Now it is night in his life, but he still trusts God. He does not give up his trust in God. After all, there is no one else to whom he can turn. And so let God teach him the way in which he should walk. With this he asks for the will of God for his life. He wants to live to the glory of God. Therefore he lifts up his soul to God. There is hope expressed in this.

At the same time, there are enemies who want to kill him to prevent him from going the way that God teaches him (Psalms 143:9). Yet let the LORD deliver him from those enemies, for he takes refuge in Him. This indicates his confidence. You only take refuge in God when you are sure to find with Him the safety and protection you seek.

Verses 10-12

Request for Teaching and Leading

From that security, the taking refuge in God in Psalms 143:9, there is the desire to be taught by Him so that He may do His will (Psalms 143:10). As an additional motive, the psalmist says to God that He is his God. He is in a personal relationship with that God through the covenant. This is the basis of the psalmist’s prayer in Psalms 143:10-2 Kings :. This prayer begins with the acknowledgment that the LORD is his God and ends with the acknowledgment that he is the LORD’s servant.

From his living covenant relationship with God, he asks Him for leading for his life by His “good Spirit” (cf. Nehemiah 9:20). God’s Spirit is a good Spirit and therefore His teaching is good and He leads in the right path. That good way runs “on level ground”, ground without pits to fall into and without stones to trip over.

Because the psalmist feels that his life has been crushed to the ground (Psalms 143:3) and he is like those who go down in the pit (Psalms 143:7), he asks the LORD to revive him (Psalms 143:11). In doing so, he appeals to the “Name” of the LORD. To save his soul from distress he appeals to the “righteousness” of the LORD, not his own, for he does not possess it.

The honor of the Name of the LORD is at stake. That Name is made great when the LORD answers the psalmist’s prayer. That includes staying alive and his soul brought out of trouble; that also includes the enemies cut off in accordance with the covenant (Psalms 143:12).

For this, the psalmist appeals to the “lovingkindness” or covenant faithfulness of the LORD. To the righteous, the destruction of enemies is evidence of God’s lovingkindness toward him. Finally, he points out to the LORD that he is His servant as a motive for the LORD to destroy all those who afflict his soul. That he is the servant of the LORD means that the LORD is his Owner and the Commander. When the enemies are destroyed, he is again in a position to serve God, which is now made impossible for him by his enemies.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 143". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.