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This Psalm is much of the same nature with the former, and seems to have been composed much about the same time, and upon the like occasion. This is the last of those which are called penitential Psalms, the former being Psalms 6:0; Psalms 32:0; Psalms 38:0; Psalms 51:0; Psalms 102:0; Psalms 130:0.
The psalmist prayeth that God in faithfulness would hear him, and not enter into Judgment with him, Psalms 143:1,Psalms 143:2; complaineth of his persecuting enemies, Psalms 143:3,Psalms 143:4; praying also for speedy deliverance; instruction in God’s ways, and the destruction of his enemies, Psalms 143:5-12.
Whereby thou art inclined and engaged to favour righteous persons and just causes.
But when I appeal to thy righteousness, I do it only with respect to mine enemies, whose cause as well as their persons is worse than mine, but not in reference to thee, as if I could absolutely justify myself upon a severe trial at the tribunal of thy justice; for if thou shouldst rigorously examine all the passages of my heart and life, I dread the thoughts and consequences of it.
Be justified, to wit, upon terms of strict justice, without thy indulgence and infinite mercy.
This is not a reason of what he last said, Psalms 143:2, but an argument to enforce his petition delivered Psalms 143:1, and repeated Psalms 143:7, &c. For though I am not faultless, if thou shouldst make an exact search into me, yet mine enemies are more culpable and highly unjust, and therefore I hope for thy help against them, from thy justice as well as mercy.
My soul, i.e. my life; for nothing less will satisfy him.
He hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath beaten me down to the ground, where I lie struggling for life.
He hath made me to dwell in darkness; he hath forced me to have mine abode in dark vaults and caves, where I am out of sight and memory, and in as forlorn and hopeless a condition in the eye of man as those that have lain long rotting in the grave.
My spirit overwhelmed within me. See Poole "Psalms 61:2" See Poole "Psalms 142:3".
Is desolate; deprived of all hope and comfort. Or, is astonished.
I remember the days of old, i.e. what thou hast done for thy servants in former times; which he mentions either,
1. As matter of terror, to consider how unlike God now was unto himself and to his former dealings; or,
2. As matter of support from former experience, because God was still the same. Either way it drives him to his prayers, which here follow.
I stretch forth my hands unto thee; I pray to thee fervently. See Poole "Psalms 141:2".
Thirsteth after thee; after thy favour and help.
As a thirsty land, to wit, thirsteth for rain.
That are dead and buried, of whom there is no hope.
In the morning, i.e. early, as this phrase is taken, Psalms 90:14, and elsewhere; seasonably and speedily.
Wherein I should walk; so as to please thee, and to secure myself.
Without whose care these caves and rocks can give me no protection.
To do thy will; to continue in faithful obedience to thee, notwithstanding all temptations to the contrary.
Thy spirit is good, lead me; or rather, as it is exactly in the Hebrew, and as many both ancient and modern translators render it,
let thy good Spirit lead me. Leave me not to my own blind and vain mind, or corrupt affections, neither give me up to the evil spirit, as thou didst Saul, but conduct me in all my ways by thy good, i.e. gracious and holy, Spirit. Into the land of uprightness; or, in plain or even land, or ground; in a straight and smooth path, that I may not stumble nor fall, either into sin or mischief. This is opposed to the crooked and rugged ways, in which sinners are said to walk. See Psalms 125:5; Proverbs 2:15; Isaiah 40:4.
Of thy mercy; out of thy mercy to me, whose life they seek.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 143". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10