Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, and in Your righteousness. 2 Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is righteous. For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. 4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed. —Psalm 143:1-4
David’s anguish is evident in these opening verses. We sense his urgency in the midst of extreme difficulties. And yet he knows what he must do—cry out to the Lord because only God can help. He prays that God won’t judge him, acknowledging his own unrighteousness. David repeats what he has said elsewhere, that the enemy was persecuting his very soul, crushing him with a huge weight. This horrible walk in the dark leaves him feeling what it might be like to be dead and without the Lord.
Have you ever been there? Frightened, exhausted, weak, confused—wondering where God was? David had written a psalm with a different tone once. Listen to his confident words: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned” (Ps 34:17-22).
Those verses stand in shining contrast not only to our psalm today but also to others that he had written along similar lines. David, the man after God’s own heart, experienced the blessings and sorrows of life just like everyone else, yet he had been handpicked by the Lord to be the king of Israel! That may give us a little comfort. In Psalm 6:6-7 he had written, “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows old because of all my enemies.”
Friends, we all go through similar life experiences, even—and perhaps especially—if we’re God’s children. He does try us and test us in order to prove to us whether or not we truly trust Him. It seems that during these times, while we’re way out in the outer limits, our minds wander into places where they shouldn’t go, as in, Maybe God’s word isn’t true. . . . Maybe I don’t really belong to Him. . . . Why has God forsaken me in my time of deepest need? Then Satan comes along and taunts us, “What kind of Christian are you? You’re not one at all, and that’s why you feel this way!”
The Bible gives examples of the devil’s plots against God’s people: Remember Adam and Eve? Or Pharaoh and Noah, with the children of Israel? Satan sent cruel “counselors” to Job, along with his own wife who encouraged him to just curse God and die. And Satan approached Jesus when He was in the wilderness, tempting him to forget about God and follow him, promising that he would give Him everything He could ever want! How stupid is Satan, to think that he could thwart God’s hand in the lives of His children! The devil is the old accuser, who taunts us, “After what you did, do you really think that God wants to hear from you again?” Never forget during those times that we stand before God in His mercy, not on our own merit. David understood this, deep down, understanding that he needed to petition God based on His faithfulness and righteousness. And he did that, standing before the Father, just like every other unrighteous human being, still in the dark, but knowing that God was His only help.
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