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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 143

 

 

Verse 1

Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.

Psalms 143:1-12 -Introductory prayer (Psalms 143:1-2) for an answer according to God's faithfulness. Deprecating judgment, he complains of his distress (Psalms 143:3-6); the object of his prayer, and the ground of hope (Psalms 143:7-12). The phrase, "servant of the Lord" (Psalms 143:2; Psalms 143:12) connects this psalm with 2 Samuel 7:1-29. David's design was to suggest to the Israel of God the means of reviving their fainting spirits in depression.

Hear my prayer, O Lord ... thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. He urges his double cry on the two-fold ground of God's righteousness and God's faithfulness. His "righteousness" is just that principle whereby He gives to each that which it is consonant to the divine character to give-salvation to the righteous (i:e., to those justified in the righteousness of God through faith working by love, in spite of many infirmities, Psalms 143:2); to the unrighteous destruction. His "righteousness" also binds Him to vindicate His praying people when they are in suffering. "Faithfulness" presupposes the promise to which God is faithful-namely, 2 Samuel 7:1-29. Similarly, in Psalms 36:5-6, God's righteousness and faithfulness are spoken of together.


Verse 2

And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

And enter not into judgment with thy servant - for my many shortcomings. This shows that the "righteousness" of God, in accordance with which in Psalms 143:1 the Psalmist prays for a favourable answer, is not the righteousness by which the judge exacts strictly all that is due by the sinner. David here deprecates such a strict judgment, as feeling himself unable to "answer Him one of a thousand" charges God could bring against him (Job 9:2-3; Job 14:3-4; Job 15:14; Job 25:4; Psalms 130:3; Psalms 19:12). God enters into strict judgment with all (Matthew 5:26; Matthew 18:27; Matthew 18:34) who are not His true servants; but He never will enter into judgment with His believing and obedient servants; because He has entered into judgment with the Lord, their righteousness and surety, who answers for them: therefore He will not demand an account a second time. He chastens them, but will not give them over unto death.

For in thy sight shall no man living be justified (Romans 3:20) - "no man living," not even the believer; because He too needs daily forgiveness and cleansing away of soils, though he has been once for all washed in the spiritual bath of regeneration upon his believing unto life (John 13:10). In THY sight, who searchest into the heart, and "art of purer eyes than to behold evil" (Habakkuk 1:13).


Verse 3

For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.

For the enemy hath persecuted my soul. "For" introduces the reason urged for granting his request-namely, the violence of the godless enemy, which must bring God to the sufferer's side, in spite of the many shortcomings of the latter. The Psalmist has presented no such bar to his deliverance as that mentioned in Psalms 7:4-5.

He hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead - (Lamentations 3:6; Psalms 7:5, end; 88:6.) Hengstenberg translates, 'in dark places,' and 'like one eternally dead.' So the Syriac. The Septuagint translate the Hebrew literally, 'those dead of an age,' or 'of eternity,' [hoos nekrous aioonos: `owlaam (Hebrew #5769)] (cf. Psalms 88:5). No inference is warranted from this that David regarded the dead as about eternally to remain so, even if we adopt Hengstenberg's and the Syriac translation. All that such expressions mean is, the dead have no return to life on this earth in the present order of things. It is their "long home" (Ecclesiastes 12:5). David clearly looked for a future life and the resurrection (Psalms 16:10-11; Psalms 17:15).


Verse 4

Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.

Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me (Psalms 142:3; Psalms 77:3 ) Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me - (Psalms 142:3; Psalms 77:3.)

My heart within me is desolate. "Within me" - literally, 'in the midst of me;' implying how deeply the feeling had penetrated. "Is desolate," or rather, 'is stupified,' in a similar sense to that of the Hebrew (Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:5; Daniel 8:27). So the Chadaic. The Septuagint, Vulgate, Arabic, and Syriac, 'is agitated.'


Verse 5

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands - namely, thy work in mightily delivering thy people from their oppressors. The remembrance of past deliverance only increases the pain of the present giving up of the Lord's servant to the persecutor (Psalms 143:3; Psalms 77:4-7 : cf. Psalms 92:5).


Verse 6

I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.

I stretch forth my hands unto thee (Psalms 88:9): my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land - as a parched land thirsting for the refreshing rain. "Thirsty" - literally, fainting or languishing (Psalms 63:1).


Verse 7

Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

Hear me speedily, O Lord; my spirit faileth. "Hear me;" translate as the same Hebrew is translated in Psalms 143:1, 'answer me speedily' (Psalms 102:2; Psalms 69:17). "Faileth" - `is exhausted,' or "consumed by the blow of thine hand" (Psalms 39:10).

Hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit - like those in the grave, who are beyond hope of relief as regards the present order of things on earth (Psalms 28:1; Psalms 88:4).


Verse 8

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust - cause me to know it by actually delivering me. So 'make me to hear joy,' etc. - i:e., to know it by experience (Psalms 51:8). "In the morning" is figurative for speedily, seasonably, and maturely. The morning is associated with salvation, as the favourable season for granting it (Psalms 59:16; Psalms 46:5, margin; 90:14; 23:4).

Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee (Psalms 25:1-2; Psalms 86:4) - "the way wherein I should walk" in order to escape from my persecutors, who "privily lay a snare for me in my way" (Psalms 142:3). "Thou knowest my path," though I know not the right way (Psalms 5:8; Psalms 25:4-5).


Verse 9

Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.

Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me (Psalms 142:6; Psalms 59:1) - literally, 'to thee I hide myself;' i:e., I go to thee, to hide myself with thee (Psalms 27:5; Psalms 31:20). God will hide those who hide themselves with Him.


Verse 10

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Teach me to do thy will (Psalms 40:9); for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. The parallelism to the two former clauses is better kept up in the English version, which divides the latter half of the verse into two clauses, than by making one clause, as Hengstenberg translates, 'Let thy spirit, the good, lead me upon a plain land.' Palpably the fourth clause corresponds to the first, as the third answers to the second. The whole is a prayer for spiritual guidance, the necessary condition for receiving the temporal as well as the spiritual deliverance which David prays for himself, his seed, and the elect nation. In other psalms similarly we have prayers for deliverance from calamities joined with prayers for spiritual teaching, so as to walk in the ways of holiness (Psalms 86:11; Psalms 139:23-24; Psalms 25:4-5; Psalms 27:11; Psalms 26:12). 'An even place' is an image for stedfastness spiritually, as distinguished from a land or footing beset with difficulties and pitfalls.


Verse 11

Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.

Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake - for the sake of thine own glory, that thou mayest show thyself to be the God of loving-kindness and power which thou art esteemed to be. Compare Psalms 23:3; Psalms 25:11; Psalms 31:3, on the words, "for thy name's sake," with "quicken me" (cf. Psalms 138:7).

For thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble. Thy righteousness is concerned to vindicate my righteous cause, and to fulfill thy promises (Psalms 143:1). "Bring my soul out of prison" Psalms 142:7, corresponds to Psalms 25:15; Psalms 34:17.


Verse 12

And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies (Psalms 18:40; Psalms 31:15; Psalms 54:5) - according to the promise, Deuteronomy 7:24.

For I am thy servant. Not boasting of his own service, but commending the electing grace of God, to which he ascribes the whole credit of his being among the servants of God. A frequent plea of David (Psalms 143:2; 2 Samuel 7:1; Psalms 116:16).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 143:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-143.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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