Psalm 143:7
Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
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(7) With the first clause comp. Psalm 69:17, with the second, Psalm 102:2,

This dependence on former psalms does not detract from the reality of the feeling expressed by means of these ancient sobs and cries. The contrast of the present with former times (Psalm 143:5) with the recollection of God’s dealings then, joined to thoughtful contemplation of the reality of His power as displayed in His works, makes the psalmist’s anguish the more intense, his longing the more consuming, his supplication the more urgent.

Psalm 143:7-9. Hear me speedily — Defer no longer; for my spirit faileth — I am just ready to faint. Hide not thy face — Be not angry with me; do not turn from me as one displeased with me, nor deprive me of the light of thy countenance: if I have thy favour let me know that I have it; lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit — That are dead and buried, of whom there is no hope; or, lest I be discouraged, dejected, and disconsolate. Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning — Early, seasonable, and speedily, as this phrase is taken Psalm 90:14. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk — So as to please thee and to secure myself; I flee unto thee to hide me — Without whose care these caves, and rocks, and human helps can give me no protection.

143:7-12 David prays that God would be well pleased with him, and let him know that he was so. He pleads the wretchedness of his case, if God withdrew from him. But the night of distress and discouragement shall end in a morning of consolation and praise. He prays that he might be enlightened with the knowledge of God's will; and this is the first work of the Spirit. A good man does not ask the way in which is the most pleasant walking, but what is the right way. Not only show me what thy will is, but teach me how to do it. Those who have the Lord for their God, have his Spirit for their Guide; they are led by the Spirit. He prays that he might be enlivened to do God's will. But we should especially seek the destruction of our sins, our worst enemies, that we may be devotedly God's servants."Hear me speedily, O Lord." Hasten to hear me; do not delay. Literally, "Hasten; answer me." I am in imminent danger. Do not delay to come to my relief.

My spirit faileth - My strength is declining. I can hold out no longer. I am ready to give up and die.

Hide not thy face from me - Do not refuse or delay to look favorably upon me; to lift up the light of thy countenance upon me.

Lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit - Margin, "For I am become like." The idea is, Unless thou shalt lift up the light of thy countenance - unless thou shalt interpose and help me, I shall die. The "pit" here refers to the grave. See the notes at Psalm 28:1.

7. spirit faileth—is exhausted.7 Hear me speedily, O Lord, my spirit faileth, hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I:trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

9 Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies, I flee unto thee to hide me.

10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God - thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

11 Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.

12 And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

Psalm 143:7

"Hear me speedily, o lord: my spirit faileth." If long delayed, the deliverance would come too late. The afflicted suppliant faints, and is ready to die. His life is ebbing out; each moment is of importance; it will soon be all over with him. No argument for speed can be more powerful than this. Who will not run to help a suppliant when his life is in jeopardy? Mercy has wings to its heels when misery is in extremity. God will not fail when our spirit fails, but the rather he will hasten his course and come to us on the wings of the wind. "Hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit." Communion with God is so dear to a true heart that the withdrawal of it makes the man feel as though he were ready to die and perish utterly. God's withdrawals reduce the heart to despair, and take away all strength from the mind. Moreover, his absence enables adversaries to work their will without restraint; and thus, in a second way, the persecuted one is like to perish. If we have God's countenance we live, but if he turns his back upon us we die. When the Lord looks with favour upon our efforts we prosper, but if he refuses to countenance them we labour in vain.

Psalm 143:8

"Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust." Lord, my sorrow makes me deaf, - cause me to hear, there is but one voice that can cheer me - cause me to hear thy lovingkindness; that music I would fain enjoy at once - cause me to hear it in the morning, at the first dawning hour. A sense of divine love is to the soul both dawn and dew; the end of the night of weeping, the beginning of the morning of joy. Only God can take away from our weary ears the din of our care, and charm them with the sweet notes of his love. Our plea with the Lord is our faith; if we are relying upon him, he cannot disappoint us "in thee do I trust" is a sound and solid argument with God. He who made the ear will cause us to hear, he who is love itself will have the kindness to bring his lovingkindness before our minds. "Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee." The Great First Cause must cause us to hear and to know. Spiritual senses are dependent upon God, and heavenly knowledge comes from him alone. To know the way we ought to take is exceedingly needful, for how can we be exact in obedience to a law with which we are not acquainted? or how can there be an ignorant holiness? If we know not the way, how shall we keep in it? If we know not wherein we should walk, how shall we be likely to follow the right path? The Psalmist lifts up his soul; faith is good at a dead lift, the soul that trusts will rise. We will not allow our hope to sink, but we will strive to get up and rise out of our daily griefs. This is wise. When David was in any difficulty as to his way he lifted his soul towards God himself, and then he knew that he could not go very far wrong. If the soul will not rise of itself we must lift it, lift it up unto God. This is good argument in prayer, surely the God to whom we endeavour to lift up our soul will condescend to show us what he would have us to do. Let us attend to David's example, and when our heart is low, let us heartily endeavour to lift it up, not so much to comfort as to the Lord himself.

Psalm 143:9

"Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies." Many foes beset us, we cannot overcome them, we cannot even escape from them; but Jehovah can and will rescue us if we pray to him. The weapon of all-prayer will stand us in better stead than sword and shield. "I flee unto thee to hide me." This was a good result from his persecutions. That which makes us flee to our God may be an ill wind, but it blows us good. There is no cowardice in such flight, but much holy courage. God can hide us out of reach of harm, and even out of sight of it. He is our hiding-place; Jesus has made himself the refuge of his people, the sooner, and the more entirely we flee to him the better for us. Beneath the crimson canopy of our Lord's atonement believers are completely hidden; let us abide there and be at rest. In Psalm 143:7 our poet cried, "Hide not thy face," and here he prays, "Hide me." Note also how often he uses the words "unto thee"; he is after his God; he must travel in that direction by some means, even though he may seem to be beating a retreat; his whole being longs to be near the Lord. It is possible that such thirstings for God will be left unsupplied? Never, while the Lord is love.

Psalm 143:10

"Teach me to do thy will." How childlike - "teach me"! How practical - "Teach me to do"! How undivided in obediences - "to do thy will"! To do all of it, let it be what it may. This is the best form of instruction, for its source is God, its object is holiness, its spirit is that of hearty loyalty. The man is hidden in the Lord, and spends his peaceful life in learning the will of his Preserver. A heart cannot long be desolate which is thus docile. "For thou art my God." Who else can teach me as thou canst? Who else will care to do it but my God? Thou hast given me thyself, thou wilt surely give me thy teaching. If I have thee, may I not ask to have thy perfect mind? When the heart can sincerely call Jehovah "my God," the understanding is ready to learn of him, the will is prepared to obey him, the whole man is eager to please him. "Thy spirit is good." God is all spirit and all good. His essence is goodness, kindness, holiness' it is his nature to do good, and what greater good can he do to us than to hear such a prayer as that which follows - "Lead me into the land of uprightness"? David would fain he among the godly, in a land of another sort from that which had east him out. He sighed for the upland meadows of grace, the table-lands of peace, the fertile plains of communion. He could not reach them of himself; he must be led there. God, who is good, can best conduct us to the goodly land. There is no inheritance like a portion in the land of promise, the land of precept, the land of perfectness. He who teaches us must put us into leading-strings, and guide and conduct us to his own dwelling-place in the country of holiness. The way is long, and steep, and he who goes without a divine leader will faint on the journey; but with Jehovah to lead, it is delightful to follow, and there is neither stumbling nor wandering.


That are dead and buried, of whom there is no hope.

Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth,.... Ready to sink, swoon, and faint away, through the weight of the affliction on him, by reason of the persecution of his enemy, and for want of the divine Presence; hence the Targum renders it,

"my spirit desireth thee;''

see Sol 5:6; and therefore entreats that God would hear and answer him quickly; or, "make haste to answer" him, and not delay, lest he should be quite gone. Wherefore it follows,

hide not thy face from me; nothing is more desirable to a good man than the "face" or presence of God, the light of his countenance, and sensible communion with him; which may be said to be "hid" when he withdraws his gracious presence, and withholds the discoveries of his love, and the manifestations of his free grace and favour; which he sometimes does on account of sin, and is the case at times of the best of saints; and is consistent with the love of God, though very grieving to them, and therefore here deprecated: the Targum is,

"cause not thy Shechinah to remove from me;''

lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit; either the house of the grave, as the Targum; look wan and pale, become lifeless and spiritless, or like a dead man; for as in the favour of God is life, his absence is as death: or the pit of hell, the pit of destruction; that is, be in such horror and despair, and under such apprehensions of divine wrath, as the damned feel.

Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
7. From Psalm 69:17; Psalm 102:2; Psalm 27:9; Psalm 84:2; Psalm 28:1.

Hear me speedily] R.V. Make haste to answer me.

hide not &c.] For if God withdraws the light of His Presence, he will be like the dying or the dead.

7–12. Prayer for speedy hearing, for guidance and deliverance, for the destruction of his enemies. The language is borrowed almost entirely from older Psalms.

Verse 7. - Hear me speedily, O Lord. Here the direct supplication of ver. 1 is taken up, and pressed. "Hear me, O Lord; and not only hear me, but that speedily. It is a time for haste" (comp. Psalm 141:1). My spirit faileth; or, "fainteth" (LXX., ἐξέλιπε). Hide not thy face from me (comp. Psalm 27:9; Psalm 69:17; Psalm 102:2). Lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit (see the comment on Psalm 28:1). Psalm 143:7In this second half the Psalm seems still more like a reproduction of the thoughts of earlier Psalms. The prayer, "answer me speedily, hide not Thy face from me," sounds like Psalm 69:18; Psalm 27:9, cf. Psalm 102:3. The expression of languishing longing, כּלתה רוּחי, is like Psalm 84:3. And the apodosis, "else I should become like those who go down into the pit," agrees word for word with Psalm 28:1, cf. Psalm 88:5. In connection with the words, "cause me to hear Thy loving-kindness in the early morning," one is reminded of the similar prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:14, and with the confirmatory "for in Thee do I trust" of Psalm 25:2, and frequently. With the prayer that the night of affliction may have an end with the next morning's dawn, and that God's helping loving-kindness may make itself felt by him, is joined the prayer that God would be pleased to grant him to know the way that he has to go in order to escape the destruction into which they are anxious to ensnare him. This last prayer has its type in Exodus 33:13, and in the Psalter in Psalm 25:4 (cf. Psalm 142:4); and its confirmation: for to Thee have I lifted up my soul, viz., in a craving after salvation and in the confidence of faith, has its type in Psalm 25:1; Psalm 86:4. But the words אליך כסּיתי, which are added to the petition "deliver me from mine enemies" (Psalm 59:2; Psalm 31:16), are peculiar, and in their expression without example. The Syriac version leaves them untranslated. The lxx renders: ὅτι πρὸς σὲ κατέφυγον, by which the defective mode of writing כסתי is indirectly attested, instead of which the translators read נסתי (cf. נוּס על in Isaiah 10:3); for elsewhere not חסה but נוּס is reproduced with καταφυγεῖν. The Targum renders it מימרך מנּתי לפריק, Thy Logos do I account as (my) Redeemer (i.e., regard it as such), as if the Hebrew words were to be rendered: upon Thee do I reckon or count, כסּיתי equals כּסתּי, Exodus 12:4. Luther closely follows the lxx: "to Thee have I fled for refuge." Jerome, however, inasmuch as he renders: ad te protectus sum, has pointed כסּיתי (כסּיתי). Hitzig (on the passage before us and Proverbs 7:20) reads כסתי from כּסא equals סכא, to look ("towards Thee do I look"). But the Hebrew contains no trace of that verb; the full moon is called כסא (כסה), not as being "a sight or vision, species," but from its covered orb.

The כסּתי before us only admits of two interpretations: (1) Ad (apud) te texi equals to Thee have I secretly confided it (Rashi, Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, Coccejus, J. H. Michaelis, J. D. Michalis, Rosenmller, Gesenius, and De Wette). But such a constructio praegnans, in connection with which כּסּה would veer round from the signification to veil (cf. כסה מן, Genesis 18:17) into its opposite, and the clause have the meaning of כּי אליך גּלּיתי, Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 20:12, is hardly conceivable. (2) Ad (apud) te abscondidi, scil. me (Saadia, Calvin, Maurer, Ewald, and Hengstenberg), in favour of which we decide; for it is evident from Genesis 38:14; Deuteronomy 22:12, cf. Jonah 3:6, that כּסּה can express the act of covering as an act that is referred to the person himself who covers, and so can obtain a reflexive meaning. Therefore: towards Thee, with Thee have I made a hiding equals hidden myself, which according to the sense is equivalent to חסיתּי, as Hupfeld (with a few MSS) wishes to read; but Abulwald has already remarked that the same goal is reached with כסּתי. Jahve, with whom he hides himself, is alone able to make known to him what is right and beneficial in the position in which he finds himself, in which he is exposed to temporal and spiritual dangers, and is able to teach him to carry out the recognised will of God ("the will of God, good and well-pleasing and perfect," Romans 12:2); and this it is for which he prays to Him in Psalm 143:10 (רצונך; another reading, רצונך). For Jahve is indeed his God, who cannot leave him, who is assailed and tempted without and within, in error; may His good Spirit then (רוּחך טובה for הטּובה, Nehemiah 9:20)

(Note: Properly, "Thy Spirit, רוּח הטּובה, a spirit, the good one, although such irregularities may also be a negligent usage of the language, like the Arabic msjd 'l-jâm‛, the chief mosque, which many grammarians regard as a construct relationship, others as an ellipsis (inasmuch as they supply Arab. 'l-mkân between the words); the former is confirmed from the Hebrew, vid., Ewald, 287, a.))

lead him in a level country, for, as it is said in Isaiah, Isaiah 26:7, in looking up to Jahve, "the path which the righteous man takes is smoothness; Thou makest the course of the righteous smooth." The geographical term ארץ מישׁור, Deuteronomy 4:43; Jeremiah 48:21, is here applied spiritually. Here, too, reminiscences of Psalms already read meet us everywhere: cf. on "to do Thy will," Psalm 40:9; on "for Thou art my God," Psalm 40:6, and frequently; on "Thy good Spirit," Psalm 51:14; on "a level country," and the whole petition, Psalm 27:11 (where the expression is "a level path"), together with Psalm 5:9; Psalm 25:4., Psalm 31:4. And the Psalm also further unrolls itself in such now well-known thoughts of the Psalms: For Thy Name's sake, Jahve (Psalm 25:11), quicken me again (Psalm 71:20, and frequently); by virtue of Thy righteousness be pleased to bring my soul out of distress (Psalm 142:8; Psalm 25:17, and frequently); and by virtue of Thy loving-kindness cut off mine enemies (Psalm 54:7). As in Psalm 143:1 faithfulness and righteousness, here loving-kindness (mercy) and righteousness, are coupled together; and that so that mercy is not named beside towtsiy', nor righteousness beside תּצמית, but the reverse (vid., on Psalm 143:1). It is impossible that God should suffer him who has hidden himself in Him to die and perish, and should suffer his enemies on the other hand to triumph. Therefore the poet confirms the prayer for the cutting off (הצמית as in Psalm 94:23) of his enemies and the destruction (האביד, elsewhere אבּד) of the oppressors of his soul (elsewhere צררי) with the words: for I am Thy servant.

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