Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 143 begins:
Hear my prayer, Lord,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you (vv. 1-3).
Frequently, in the psalms, the poets appeal to God as judge, asking him to decide in the poets’ favor and to condemn his enemies. For example, Psalm 7 says,
Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
according to my integrity, O Most High (v. 8).
So why is the poet in Psalm 143 asking God not to bring him into judgment? Why isn’t he confident, like the poet in Psalm 7, that God will see his righteousness and exonerate him?
I give the usual answer, when faced with the complexity and depth of the psalms. Those poets pray honestly and authentically whatever is on their heart and mind. It’s a come-as-you-are prayer party. No need to dress up and look respectable. When they feel they’ve been doing a good job of living according to God’s covenant with Israel, they boldly claim their righteousness, castigate God for not doing his part, and call him to uphold his end of the covenant.
But when evil surfaces in the poets’ heart, they ask forgiveness, basing their prayer entirely on God’s mercy instead of their own righteousness.
Our Father, with the psalmist we pray, “Don’t judge us quickly, because no human can stand before you.” We need your help, not your judgment.
Do not hide your face from us,
or we will be like those who go down to the pit (v. 7).
We do not point to the good things we have done. We point only to your love. Accept our faltering service, our stumbling ways, and the inadequate praise we offer. Because of your love, raise us up and set us on the way of eternal life.
With the poet we pray:
Rescue us from our enemies, Lord,
for we hide in you (v. 9).
We are crowded and cast down by our old enemy, the devil. Our enemy, the world, is always near, inviting us to a table of Christmas without Christ, of food without thanksgiving, of pleasures without joy. The enemy within tempts us to a feast of unbelief, of cynicism and doubt, questioning whether you rule the world in love. Our God, we ask: Are the randomness and violence we see your servants or your master?
Teach us to do your will,
for you are our God;
may your good spirit
lead us on level ground (v. 10).
Yes, Lord, make it simple for us. We do not aspire to climb a spiritual Everest. We are amateur trekkers on this journey, looking for level and well-marked paths. Teach us the path to take, help us follow the lead of your good Spirit, keep us from stumbling.
We are your servants, Lord, we need your protection and guidance.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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