PSALM 143*

A Prayer in Distress

1A psalm of David.

LORD, hear my prayer;

in your faithfulness listen to my pleading;

answer me in your righteousness.

2Do not enter into judgment with your servant;

before you no one can be just.a

3The enemy has pursued my soul;

he has crushed my life to the ground.b

He has made me dwell in darkness

like those long dead.c

4My spirit is faint within me;

my heart despairs.d

5I remember the days of old;

I ponder all your deeds;

the works of your hands I recall.e

6I stretch out my hands toward you,

my soul to you like a parched land.f


7Hasten to answer me, LORD;

for my spirit fails me.

Do not hide your face from me,

lest I become like those descending to the pit.g

8In the morning let me hear of your mercy,

for in you I trust.

Show me the path I should walk,

for I entrust my life to you.h

9Rescue me, LORD, from my foes,

for I seek refuge in you.

10Teach me to do your will,

for you are my God.

May your kind spirit guide me

on ground that is level.

11For your name’s sake, LORD, give me life;

in your righteousness lead my soul out of distress.

12In your mercy put an end to my foes;

all those who are oppressing my soul,

for I am your servant.i

* [Psalm 143] One of the Church’s seven Penitential Psalms, this lament is a prayer to be freed from death-dealing enemies. The psalmist addresses God, aware that there is no equality between God and human beings; salvation is a gift (Ps 143:12). Victimized by evil people (Ps 143:34), the psalmist recites (“remembers”) God’s past actions on behalf of the innocent (Ps 143:56). The Psalm continues with fervent prayer (Ps 143:79) and a strong desire for guidance and protection (Ps 143:1012).

a. [143:2] Eccl 7:20; Jb 4:17; Rom 3:20.

b. [143:3] Ps 7:6.

c. [143:3] Lam 3:6.

d. [143:4] Ps 142:4; Jb 17:1.

e. [143:5] Ps 77:6, 12.

f. [143:6] Ps 42:2; 63:2.

g. [143:7] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 88:5; Prv 1:12.

h. [143:8] Ps 25:4; 27:11; 86:11; 119:12, 35.

i. [143:12] Ps 116:16.

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