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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 143

Verse 1

Psalms 143:0.

David prayeth for favour in judgment: he complaineth of his griefs: he strengtheneth his faith by meditation and prayer: he prayeth for grace, for deliverance, for sanctification, and for destruction of his enemies.

A Psalm of David.

Title. לדוד מזמור mizmor ledavid. This psalm is thought to have been composed by David, when Absalom his son persecuted him; and so it was inscribed in some old Greek copies. It is the last of those stiled penitential psalms.

Psalms 143:1. In thy faithfulness answer me That is, "According to the promises which thou hast made to hear, and answer, that is, grant, the petitions of thy servant."

Verse 2

Psalms 143:2. Enter not into judgment That is, "Do not call me to a rigorous account for my sins; (See 2 Samuel 12:9; 2 Samuel 12:11.) which have justly brought these troubles upon me." Be justified; namely, if thou shouldst proceed according to the rigour of thy law.

Verse 3

Psalms 143:3. He hath made me to dwell in darkness He maketh me to lie close in dark places. The original word מחשׁכים macheshakkim, properly signifies dark places, and every where means the dark caverns of the earth, where, he complains in this and the preceding clause, his enemies forced him to hide himself, like the dead, who were deep inclosed in the bowels of the earth; a manner of speaking well suited to that state to which David was reduced in the wilderness by his enemies. See Mudge.

Verse 5

Psalms 143:5. I remember the days of old i.e. "But still, upon a more sedate reflection, I consider not only what thou hast done for me during the persecutions of Saul; but also that long before, in my younger days, thou deliveredst me from the greatest dangers." See 1Sa 17:34; 1 Samuel 17:58.

Verse 6

Psalms 143:6. My soul thirtieth after thee, &c.— My soul is as a thirsty land for thee. Mudge.

Verse 8

Psalms 143:8. In the morning i.e. Speedily, early; and so it is well rendered, Psalms 90:14. See Psalms 46:5.

Verse 10

Psalms 143:10. Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness Let thy good Spirit lead me through plain ground. Mudge: Who observes, "I have translated it so, as the clause before leads to this sense; and there is an expression much the same, Psa 27:11 in which he prays God to conduct him in a plain and level way. Such was that of God's law; because, if he went out of that, he would be liable to stumble, and his enemies would take advantage to his prejudice." But, considering the particular circumstances of the Psalmist in these two psalms, I am inclined to think that he prays to God to be safely conducted into the plain country out of that rude mountainous wild where he was now forced to secrete himself.

Verse 12

Psalms 143:12. Cut off Or, Shall thou cut off.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, When we are in trouble, God permits us to pour our sorrows into his bosom.

1. The Psalmist begs an audience to his prayers, and pleads, as the ground of his hope, God's faithfulness to his promises, and his righteousness; or his grace and mercy, which includes the righteous obedience of Christ to the death of the cross, the purchase of all our blessings. Note; If ever we hope for God's acceptance of us, it must be not for any thing in us, but purely of grace for his dear Son's sake, according to the promises of his word.

2. He humbly prays, Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Note; (1.) The most righteous man alive cannot bear the severity of God's justice, according to a covenant of works. (2.) They who best know their own hearts, will ever be the first to cry for mercy at God's hand, conscious that the merit of the death of Christ is as necessary for the highest in grace, as for the guiltiest of sinners. (3.) They who plead guilty before the law, and fly to the grace of the gospel in Jesus Christ, shall be justified from all things.

3. He complains of his afflicted state. Persecuted by his bitter foe; brought to the gates of the grave; compelled to hide himself in solitary caves, as if driven from the light, and already a companion of the dead; his spirit melancholy as his circumstances; and his heart within him desolate, dejected, and ready to sink into despair. Note; When the believer's or the penitent's distress is greatest, God's power and grace shall be the more magnified in his deliverance.

4. Meditation and prayer are his chief resource. I remember the days of old; the wonders that God had wrought for his church and people, and for himself also, in former days. I meditate on all thy works; on the power and goodness of God therein displayed, and draw from thence encouragement for my soul. I muse on the work of thy hands, and speak thereof to others, as the most pleasing subject of discourse. I stretch forth my hands unto thee, in eager and importunate prayer; My soul thirtieth after thee, as a thirsty land; with such longings as the parched ground, whose fissures seem to gape for the refreshing showers. Note; (1.) Remembrance of God's dealings with his people of old, and with ourselves in time part, is very encouraging in our distresses. (2.) They who are athirst for God, his love, and favour, shall never be sent empty away from a throne of grace.

2nd, Oppressed, and ready to faint under his trials, we have his fervent cries. My spirit faileth; swooning with the weight of his affliction, or with the sense of his sins; but a step from the pit of death, or perhaps in his own apprehension from the belly of hell; therefore, Hear me speedily, or I am past recovery. His particular requests are,

1. Hide not thy face from me; for the sense of God's displeasure to a truly penitent soul is more bitter than death, and the hidings of his countenance the sorest affliction to a returning backslider.

2. Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning; for God hath kindness still in store for his believing people in their deepest state of anguish, and faith embraces it; for in thee do I trust; and they can never perish, who perseveringly trust in him.

3. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for in our afflictions our eyes may be so filled with tears, that we cannot clearly see the path of duty; but the pious heart is conscious that it hath but one desire, and that is to please God; and therefore I lift up my soul unto thee for guidance and direction.

4. Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: they are many: they are mighty: too mighty for me to oppose; but I flee unto thee to hide me: and they are safe from every foe, spiritual or temporal, who are covered with the shadow of his wings. My soul, fly ever thither for thy refuge!

5. Teach me to do thy will; for we have neither understanding to know what it is, nor ability to follow it, till God instruct and guide us; for thou art my God; I give myself up to thee as my covenant God, to be made such as thou wouldst have me to be.

6. Thy Spirit is good; or, Let thy good Spirit lead me into the land of uprightness. It is not only the essential perfection of this Spirit to be good, but his office it is to sanctify our souls, and lead us in the right way, that we may come through the paths of holiness to the land of eternal purity and blessedness; and here every gracious soul longs to come.

7. Quicken me, O Lord, from my low and dejected state, and revive my fainting soul, for thy name's sake, for the glory of thy grace and faithfulness. For thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble; not only deliver my body from death, but my spirit from the sorer temptations which beset me; for if our soul be safe, then our all is safe.

8. And of thy mercy shalt thou cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul; my persecutors, who will meet just judgment from an avenging God, who espouseth the quarrel of his oppressed people; for I am thy servant, who, engaged in thy service, may hope for thy protection. And thus shall all the enemies of Christ and his people be cut off at the last, and tribulation in full measure be given to those who troubled us.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 143". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.