1 Hear my prayer, O LORD;
Give ear to my pleas for mercy!
in your faithfulness answer me,
in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground,
he has made me sit in darkness
like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on
all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me, lest I be like
those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
For to you I lift up my soul.
9 Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
I have fled to you for refuge!
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me on level Ground!
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
12 And in your steadfast love
you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Devotion (Taken from, Reading the Psalms with Luther, St. Louis: CPH, 2007)
The 143rd psalm is a psalm of prayer. The psalmist prays for grace and forgiveness of sins, in the terror of his conscience. He is nearly pressed to despair by the enemies of faith, that is, the promoters of the Law. These especially plague the distressed and timid conscience and drive it into darkness, that is, into despair and death with heavy burdens and unbearable doctrine of works, which they do not so much as touch with one of their fingers, as Christ says (Matthew 23:1).
But here the psalm shows that grace provides deliverance, not the judgment before which no one alive can stand. Of this all the ancient histories and works of the Lord also give witness. For all of the holy patriarchs of old placed their hope on God’s love and grace, not on the judgment. As St. Peter also says (Acts 15:10), “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
I consider their works and examples of old (he says here), and I am comforted, for they were comforted and delivered from sin purely from grace, just as I am. Even Abraham himself was called from out of idolatry (Joshua 24:2). No praise of human righteousness or holiness has any value here at all, no matter how much the false prophets worry us.
By Your grace, O God, grant us the forgiveness of all our sins. And by Your Holy Spirit enlighten our eyes to see both our own sinfulness and the holiness of Your Law, that our trust may not stand in the righteousness of works, but in Your grace which You have promised in Your Son, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to sanctify and cleanse us. Amen (Reading the Psalms with Luther, p. 144).