September 21 — Psalm 143
“Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness. Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. For the enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. I remember the days of old, I think about all your deeds, I meditate on the works of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me, or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit. Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Save me, O LORD, from my enemies; 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 a level path. For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life. In your righteousness bring me out of trouble. In your steadfast love cut off my enemies, and destroy all my adversaries, for I am your servant.”
“No one living is righteous before you.”
This is the truth about all people — no human being will be found to be righteous before G-d. The Psalmist knows the truth of the human condition — all have fallen short of the glory of G-d. Sinfulness is our very condition. Repentance is in order because of what we are, not just because of what we have done.
But the psalmist obviously does not know that the work of Jesus Christ will be salvific for all people. G-d’s righteousness through Jesus Christ replaces the judgment due for all of humanity.
In this psalm a mortal foe has come to do works of evil and death. The enemy is not named; but the enemy is many. This prayer-filled Psalm gives the plea not for a sin, but because the assault of the enemy and the prospect of death bring to light human unrighteousness before G-d. Repentance is turning to God for salvation from the darkness and death that is our lot. It is a move of hope, a stretching out of the hands to be saved.
The Psalmist prays, “Teach me the way I should go”. I often find myself making the very same request of G-d — teach me the way. It will be through the teachings of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit that you and I will find our clearest direction. We should dare to ask G-d for divine help — for it is G-d’s good pleasure to offer such help for all of G-d’s creation, so that we may do what is pleasing in G-d’s sight.
Let us Pray:
God of our hope, you bring the first light of dawn to those who live in the dark places of desolation and fear. Send your good Spirit to lead us on firm and level ground, that we may put our trust in you and do what is pleasing in your sight; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.