|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
143:1-6 We have no righteousness of our own to plead, therefore must plead God's righteousness, and the word of promise which he has freely given us, and caused us to hope in. David, before he prays for the removal of his trouble, prays for the pardon of his sin, and depends upon mercy alone for it. He bemoans the weight upon his mind from outward troubles. But he looks back, and remembers God's former appearance for his afflicted people, and for him in particular. He looks round, and notices the works of God. The more we consider the power of God, the less we shall fear the face or force of man. He looks up with earnest desires towards God and his favour. This is the best course we can take, when our spirits are overwhelmed. The believer will not forget, that in his best actions he is a sinner. Meditation and prayer will recover us from distresses; and then the mourning soul strives to return to the Lord as the infant stretches out its hands to the indulgent mother, and thirsts for his consolations as the parched ground for refreshing rain.
Verse 6. - I stretch forth my hands unto thee. These recollections draw me to thee, O God, and make me stretch forth my hands in prayer to thee (Psalm 141:2b), and entreat thee for succor. My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. As a parched and withered land. seems to look up to heaven and long for rain, so does my soul long for thee, O Lord, "and thy refreshing grace" (comp. Psalm 42:1). The "pause-mark," "selah," at the end of the verse, at once gives time for secret prayer, and makes a division of the psalm into two parts.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I stretch forth my hands unto thee,.... In prayer, as the Targum adds; for this is a prayer gesture, 1 Kings 8:38; both hands were stretched forth, earnestly imploring help, and ready to receive and embrace every blessing bestowed with thankfulness;
my soul thirsteth after thee as a thirsty land. As a dry land, which wants water, gapes, and as it were thirsts for rain, which is very refreshing to it; so his soul thirsted after God, after his word and ordinances, after communion with him in them, after his grace and fresh supplies of it; particularly after pardoning grace and mercy, after the coming of Christ, and the blessings of grace by him; as reconciliation, atonement, righteousness, and salvation; after more knowledge of God and Christ, and divine truths; and after the enjoyment of them in heaven to all eternity. Some copies read, "in a thirsty land" (x), and so some versions; see Psalm 42:1.
Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.
(x) Cod. Heb. Bomberg. Venet. "in terra siticulosa", Musculus, Tarnovius.
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