Psalm 143 - Hear my prayer, O Lord

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A psalm of David.
1) Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness;
answer me in your righteousness.
2) Do not enter into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

3) For the enemy has pursued me,
crushing my life to the ground,
making 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 think about all your deeds,
I meditate on the works 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.
Do not hide your face from me,
or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
8) 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.

9) Save me, O Lord, from my enemies;
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 a level path.

11) For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life.
In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.
12) In your steadfast love cut off my enemies,
and destroy all my adversaries,
for I am your servant.
Psalm 143 (NRSV*)
The Great Vigil of Easter

No one living is righteous before you, O Lord. Including me. My enemy has already imposed their judgment upon me and crushed me into the earth. But not you, O Lord. Your judgment I could not stand. So please withhold it, suspend it, forego it. Have mercy - give me a chance!

Some of my faults I know too well. But I am not fully sure how I got to this place. All I know is I am in danger and need help.

I know you hear a lot of promises from those in trouble. I will do my best to fix what I can. But I am turning to you because you are my last hope. I am beaten and my spirit is failing.

But you are my God. You listen to prayer. Your steadfast love lights the world like the sun at the dawn.

Hide not your face from me, let me not be forgotten. I will serve you if you but lead me out of this mess. I know you are the one with the power and the will, and it is you that I trust. Lead me back to your grace and to your paths. And if I do not deserve it, please do it for your own sake, that your name be lifted up, O my Lord and my hope!

The Church has appointed this psalm for the Great Vigil of Easter, that service which begins in darkness with the Lord somewhere between the tomb and the resurrection appearances. We imagine that for his beloved ones, this must have been a time of intense loss, of very real fear, when their hopes had been dashed.

But God... but God... God was not yet done. Can we pray even when our spirit is faint? Can we call out of our depths? Can we kindle hope, when hope has died?

Author unknown, Water, snow, light. Public domain (CC BY 1.0).
* New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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