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The Adam Clarke Commentary

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 Chapter 142
Chapter 144
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The psalmist prays for mercy, and deprecates judgment, 1,2. His persecutions, 3. His earnest prayer for deliverance, 4-9. Prays for God's quickening Spirit, 10,11. And for the total discomfiture of his adversaries, 12.


The Hebrew and all the Versions attribute this Psalm to David; and the Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic and Arabic state that it was composed on the rebellion of his son Absalom: nor is there any thing in the Psalm that positively disagrees with this inscription. This is the last of the seven Psalms styled penitential.

Verse 1. In thy faithfulness answer me
Thou hast promised to support me in my difficulties, and, though my children should forsake me, never to withdraw thy loving-kindness from me. See the present unnatural rebellion of my son. Lord, undertake for me!

Verse 2. Enter not into judgment
al tabo. Do not come into court, either as a Witness against me, or as a Judge, else I am ruined; for thou hast seen all my ways that they are evil, and thy justice requires thee to punish me. Nor can any soul that has ever lived be justified in the sight of thy justice and righteousness. Had I my desert from thee, I should have worse than even my unnatural son intends me. O what a relief is Jesus crucified to a soul in such circumstances!

Verse 3. He hath made me to dwell in darkness
Literally, in dark places. This may be understood of David's taking refuge in caves and dens of the earth, to escape from his persecuting son; yea, even to take refuge in the tombs, or repositories of the dead.

Verse 4. Therefore is my spirit
I am deeply depressed in spirit, and greatly afflicted in body.

My heart within me is desolate.
It has no companion of its sorrows, no sympathetic friend. I am utterly destitute of comfort.

Verse 5. I remember the days of old
Thou hast often helped me, often delivered me. I will therefore trust in thee, for thy mercy is not clean gone from me.

Verse 6. I stretch forth my hands
This is a natural action. All in distress, or under the influence of eager desire, naturally extend their hands and arms, as if to catch at help and obtain succour.

As a thirsty land.
Parched and burned by the sun, longs for rain, so does my thirsty soul for the living God.

Verse 7. Hear me speedily
maher, make haste to answer me. A few hours, and my state may be irretrievable. In a short time my unnatural son may put an end to my life.

Verse 8. Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning
This petition was probably offered in the night-season. David had despatched his messengers in all directions; and prays to God that he might by the morning get some good news.

Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk
Absalom and his partisans are in possession of all the country. I know not in what direction to go, that I may not fall in with them: point out by thy especial providence the path I should take.

Verse 9. I flee unto thee to hide me.
That I may not be found by my enemies, who seek my life to destroy it.

Verse 10. Teach me to do thy will
retsonecha, thy pleasure. To be found doing the will of God is the only safe state for man.

Thy Spirit is good
The Author of every good desire and holy purpose.

Lead me
Let it lead me by its continued inspirations and counsels.

Into the land of uprightness.
"Into a right land," CHALDEE. Into the place where I shall be safe. The old Psalter has, Thi goste gude sal lede me into rygt lande.

Verse 11. Quicken me
I am as a dead man, and my hopes are almost dead within me.

Verse 12. And of thy mercy
To me and the kingdom.

Cut off mine enemies
Who, if they succeed, will destroy the very form of godliness. The steps he has already taken show that even morality shall have no countenance, if Absalom reign.

I am thy servant.
Whoever is disloyal to me, I will love and serve thee.

For a full explanation of this Psalm, as applied to penitents, see the analysis.


David, being driven from Jerusalem by his son Absalom, wisely calls to mind his sin, as being the cause of it.

This Psalm has four parts:-

I. A prayer for remission of sin, grounded on God's promise, Psalms 143:1; not on his own worthiness, ; 143:2.

II. A narration of the sad state of his affairs, Psalms 143:3,4.

III. The comfort he received in his sad condition, and whence, Psalms 143:5,6.

IV. His petition, containing many particulars and reasons, Psalms 143:7-12.

I. He prays for audience: "Hear my prayer, O Lord," not plainly express the matter he prayed for; but it may be gathered from the context that it was for remission of sin.

1. "In thy faithfulness," promised to pardon the penitent. I am a penitent; have mercy on me.

2. "And in thy righteousness," loving-kindness.

This sense appears more plainly from the next verse.

1. "And enter not into judgment," account at the bar of thy justice. This he deprecates; so that Justitia in the former verse could not be taken for that justice.

2. "For in thy sight," then, for the sake of thy mercy and promise, not my merits.

II. And now he enters upon the narration of his sad condition.

1. "For the enemy hath persecuted," life: but it was Satan who enticed me to adultery and homicide.

2. "He hath smitten," made me a lover of earth, vile in thy sight.

3. "He hath made me to dwell," with earthly pleasures, I was in spiritual darkness, and saw not the way of life, any more than those who have been long dead.

The effect this darkness produced was fear and consternation.

1. "Therefore is my spirit," my soul; I was ready to faint when I considered thy holiness and my impurity.

2. "My heart within me,"

III. In this sadness of heart and mind,-

1. "I remember the days of old," to others.

2. "I meditate," pondered on them.

And I derived great profit from my meditation; for,

1. "I stretch forth my hands," thee.

2. "My soul thirsteth," land wanting water. For as the earth without rain has no consistence, but is pulverized; so the soul not moistened with the grace of God falls on the right and left hand into temptation, and brings forth no fruit to God's glory.

IV. The sad case in which David was, upon a sense of God's indignation, makes him seek out a remedy.

1. "Hear me speedily," condition in which he was till God was pacified for his sin.

2. "Hide not thy face,"

His next petition resembles the former in substance.

1. "Cause me to hear," it is thy Spirit which must work with it to save me.

2. "In the morning,"

3. His reason: "For in thee do I trust," hold even in my extremity; but still hoped against hope.

His third petition is-

1. "Cause me to know," fears to relapse into his pardoned sin, and prays to God for grace and direction.

2. His reason: "For I lift up my soul," thee.

His fourth petition is-

1. "Deliver me, O Lord," temptations.

2. His reason: "I flee unto thee,"

His fifth petition resembles his third.

1. "Teach me to do thy will," obedience may I know thy will perfectly; in adversity, to submit to it; in prosperity, to do it without pride or presumption.

2. His reason: "For thou art my God." Who hast promised me thy help; and from whom all my good proceeds, being and well-being.

His sixth petition: "Thy Spirit is good." Not mine. Let then thy good Spirit instruct and lead me in the right way.

His seventh petition is-

1. "Quicken me, O Lord," justify me fully.

2. "For thy name's sake." Not my merits, but thy mercy, and the glory that will accrue to thy name in pardoning a penitent soul.

3. He goes on: "For thy righteousness' sake," desires; but still at the hands of God's infinite mercy.

His last petition is for the destruction of Satan's kingdom.

1. "Of thy mercy cut off mine enemies,"

2. His reason: "For I am thy servant," one under thy patronage and protection; one of thy family honoured with the dignity of being thy servant, and well contented and pleased to perform my duty and service.

Copyright Statement
The Adam Clarke Commentary is a derivative of an electronic edition prepared by

Bibliography Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalm 143". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". <>. 1832.  


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