Psalm 143: Enemies
July 18, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
One of the sad realities of life is that we can have enemies. In fact, unless we are so weak-willed that we never stand up for anything right at all, we are almost bound to have enemies at some point in our lives. When you have people who are attacking you, who are your enemies, even for things that you are doing that are right in and of themselves, how is the Christian to respond? Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). But in this psalm, we find the prayer life of a godly man not for his enemies, but for himself as he faces those enemies. There is a unique challenge that a man of God faces when he is surrounded by people who are hell-bent on destroying not only him, but his faith in God. Yes, we must pray for such people. But we must also pray that we will not ourselves be led into evil, fall into temptation, or be tested beyond what we can bear.
David prays first that God will come to his relief based not because of David’s righteousness but because of God’s “faithfulness and righteousness” (143:1). In fact, David is so conscious of his own sin that he prays that God would not judge him (143:2). “For no one living is righteous before you.” When we ask to be given relief from the attacks of our enemies, we do so not because we are good, but because God is good; not because we deserve it, but because God is faithful even though we do not deserve it.
Then, second, David remembers what God has done in the past. “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on your works and consider what your hands have done” (143:5). One of the reasons why it is so important to know about church history is so that we can be confident in the present and future faithfulness of God. We can bring to mind how God was faithful to, say, Whitefield and Edwards, Luther and Calvin and Augustine, Paul and Peter and David, Moses and Abraham. And with that in our mind, our current enemies dwindle into relative insignificance before the track record of our faithful God!
Third, David is bold to pray urgently. Sometimes we have just had enough. We don’t feel we can take it anymore. David tells God that is how he feels. “Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails” (143:7). Perhaps you are “at the end of your rope” today. Pray for God to answer quickly.
Fourth, David prays that God would guide him. “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (143:10). When we are surrounded by enemies, frequently what we need is wisdom to know what to do.
And then fifth and finally, David returns to his beginning theme. None of this is for his sake or because he is so good and deserving. Ultimately it is “for your name’s sake, Lord” and “in your unfailing love” (143:11-12).
Perhaps you are being attacked by an enemy. Who has not and who will not one day? If this is your day to be surrounded by enemies, then remember how David prayed and pray as he did. Not because you are so righteous, but because God is. Remember what God has done in the past, and draw confidence from his track record of faithfulness. Pray urgently. Pray for wisdom. And pray for God to be glorified by rescuing you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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