The thirsting soul of Psalm 143

Christians battle the devil, the world, and our own flesh. The conflict often wages on all three fronts. We grow weary and long for victory, or at least furlough from the front lines.

In Psalm 143, David conveys his weariness and his awareness of personal sin.

Hear my prayer, O LORD;
    give ear to my pleas for mercy!
   In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
   for no one living is righteous before you (Psalm 143:1-2, ESV).

David’s enemies have pursued his soul; he feels crushed to the ground with life draining away, as if he sits in darkness like a corpse.

For the enemy has pursued my soul;
    he has crushed my life to the ground;
    he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
   my heart within me is appalled (3-4, ESV).

Even though his spirit faints and his heart is appalled, David recalls the goodness of God. His soul thirsts for the Lord like a dry and barren land thirsts for rain.

I remember the days of old;
    I meditate on all that you have done;
   I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
    my soul thirsts for you like a parched land (5-6, ESV).

While begging God to rescue him quickly, David confesses his continued trust in God’s loving guidance.

Answer me quickly, O LORD!
    My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
    lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
   for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
   for to you I lift up my soul (7-8, ESV).

David couples his prayer for deliverance from his enemies with a petition for instruction and direction (9-10, ESV):

Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
   I have fled to you for refuge!
Teach me to do your will,
   for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
   on level ground!

David does not seek deliverance merely for his own sake, but also so that God’s name will be glorified.

For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
   In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
   and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
   for I am your servant (11-12, ESV).

It is interesting to note that God’s judgment is an expression of his love: It is in his steadfast love that he will cut of believers’ enemies and destroy all the adversaries of their souls. This deliverance is not for those who talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk.

Deliverance is reserved for God’s servants. Only those who love God and serve him can expect him to deliver them from their enemies and quench their thirsting souls with his life-giving water.

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