Scripture reading – Psalm 143; Psalm 144     


Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms, and the titles of both Psalm 143 and Psalm 144 credit David as the author. Psalm 144 is a psalm of worship and praise, while Psalm 143 is a penitent, mournful psalm. Today’s Bible study will be taken from the latter.

We have seen a pattern and practice of prayer throughout David’s life.  When enemies assailed him, he prayed (Psalm 13:2; Psalm 61:3).  When trials came, and troubles threatened to overwhelm him, he prayed (Psalm 120:1).  When he faced the scourge of the consequences of his sins, he called upon the Lord, confident He would hear, and answer his penitent prayer (Psalm 51).

Psalm 143 continued David’s practice of prayer.

The psalm opened with the king calling upon the LORD for grace and praying, “Give ear to my supplications [pleas for mercy]: In thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness” [remember that God is altogether righteous, and will only do that which is right and good] (Psalm 143:1).

Notice that David did not pray for justice but for mercy. Why? Because no man or woman can be justified in the sight of a holy, just God. David intreated the LORD, “enter not into judgment with thy servant: For in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2).

David did not identify the enemy who caused him such consternation; however, the king was at a low place in life. The king enumerated the wickedness of his adversary and declared he had been “persecuted…smitten…[and made to] dwell in darkness” (Psalm 143:3). David confessed he was “overwhelmed…[and his] heart…desolate” (Psalm 143:4).

I find the king’s honesty and transparency refreshing. Though he was the great monarch of Israel, he was humble enough to admit when the pressures and disappointments of life were encroaching on his heart and emotions. Whether because of pride or fear of judgment, few believers trust others enough to confess their sorrows and burdens.


Where do you turn when you feel overwhelmed and depressed?

David prayed (Psalm 143:1-4) and remembered “the days of old” (or we might say, “the good old days,” Psalm 143:5). He remembered better days, and as he meditated on the providences of the past (God’s ways and works), the king’s spirit was revived. He literally and figuratively reached out to the LORD and confessed, “My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah” (Psalm 143:6).

Believer, the LORD wants you to have that same passion and to realize only He can satisfy the longing of a thirsty soul.

Eight Intimate Petitions (Psalm 143:7-11)

Psalm 143 concluded with David expressing in his prayer eight longings. He prayed: “Hear me speedily (Psalm 143:7)…Open my hearing to “thy lovingkindness” (Psalm 143:8)…Reveal to me “the way wherein I should walk” (Psalm 143:8)…“Deliver me (Psalm 143:9)… “Teach me to do thy will” (Psalm 143:10)… “Lead me into the land of uprightness” (Psalm 143:10)… “Quicken [revive] me” (Psalm 143:11)…and Save me “out of trouble” (Psalm 143:11).

We do not know what “trouble” David faced; however, he was in a place where only the LORD could deliver his soul (Psalm 143:11b).


Closing thoughts –

We inevitably cross paths with adversaries because we live in a sin-cursed world. I have found some miserable souls savor our sorrows and delight in our troubles. So, where do you turn when troubles come?

Many believers seek refuge in counselors, psychologists, prescription drugs, vices, and amusements. What did David do?

He turned to the LORD and cried for mercy (Psalm 143:1-2). He assessed his circumstances (Psalm 143:3-4) and remembered better days. He reflected on the ways and works of God (Psalm 143:5). He prayed and reminded the LORD, “I am thy servant” (Psalm 143:12), and remembered the LORD is jealous for His servants’ sake (Psalm 143:12).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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