Psalm 143

The Psalms

Psalm 143
How to pray under pressure

Psalms index

Psalm 143 (NIV)

1 A psalm of David.

O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. 2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no-one living is righteous before you.

3 The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. 4 So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.

5 I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. 6 I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. 8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 9 Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you. 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. 11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. 12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.


Psalm 143 – How to pray under pressure

(Verses 1-2) Some psalms are ‘linear’ and some ‘circular’ in content: the ‘linear’ ones go down a list of topics; the ‘circular’ ones keep returning to the same topics. Some psalms blend them both together. Such a blend reminds us to be ordered in our thinking before God and to cover all the ground, but also makes sure we do not just go through a to do list without our hearts being in it. Psalm 142 is linear; Psalm 143 is more circular. It starts with clear gospel principles: David cries for ‘mercy’; he seeks God’s ‘faithfulness and righteousness’ for his ‘relief’; he wants to avoid ‘judgment’; he admits he is not ‘righteous’ before God. We are not righteous because of our sin. We deserve God’s judgment for that sin. But relief from God’s wrathful judgment is ours if we turn our back on our sin, thank Jesus for taking our judgment in His own body on the cross where He died in our place, and trust solely in Christ. When the Lord forgives our sin, He credits us with God’s perfect righteousness. His faithfulness is shown in how He always answers any sinner’s prayer to come to Christ. Acts 2:21 says, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

(Verses 3-4) As in Psalm 142, David is suffering from continuous opposition which causes him at times to ‘dwell in darkness’, ‘grow faint’ in spirit, and be ‘dismayed’ in his heart. He is right to be open with God, even though God’s light, strength, and peaceful joy are his if he trusts in and looks to the Lord. We, too, need be honest with God but trust Him.

(Verses 5-6) David looks back to all his unchanging God has already done for him. He prays and thirsts for God. Recalling His faithfulness and thirsting for Him are vital in our walk with God and spiritual warfare.

(Verses 7-12) These last six verses again go through David’s prayers, weakness, trust, enemies, requests, commitment, and remembering who God is. At school I was taught that a verb is a doing word. We close our thoughts on Psalm 143 by seeing what David prays for God to do for him:

  • Answer me quickly
  • Do not hide you face from me
  • Bring me word of your unfailing love
  • Show me the way I should go
  • Rescue me from my enemies
  • Teach me to do Your will
  • May your good Spirit lead me on level ground
  • Preserve my life
  • Bring me out of trouble
  • Silence my enemies
  • Destroy all my foes

The Lord Jesus not only saves sinners from Hell to welcome them in Heaven. He helps us each day. He is with us now to bless us. We can pray to Him with great confidence.