Today: [Psalm 141-143] The Prayer Life of David. In the scripture there are very many examples of prayer. We have the Lord’s prayer. We also see the mighty prayers of Elijah – calling down fire on the enemies of God. We see Hannah praying desperately for a child. The prayer life of David however can be the most accessible to us. David prayed with great honestly and transparency. The prayer life of David as no other in scripture can help us know how to approach God with sincerity and see answers when it seems nothing else will help.
[Psa 141:1-10 KJV] 1 [[A Psalm of David.]] LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. 2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee [as] incense; [and] the lifting up of my hands [as] the evening sacrifice. 3 Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. 4 Incline not my heart to [any] evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties. 5 Let the righteous smite me; [it shall be] a kindness: and let him reprove me; [it shall be] an excellent oil, [which] shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also [shall be] in their calamities. 6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet. 7 Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth [wood] upon the earth. 8 But mine eyes [are] unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute. 9 Keep me from the snares [which] they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity. 10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.
Psalm 141 was written by David (as was the previous chapter) when he was on the run from king Saul. Verse 1 speaks of David crying out to God to make haste to hear his prayer. How many times have you prayed to God and there was a time frame involved that you felt that God had to act? God’s timetable is not our timetable. Jesus said two times in the book of Revelation that he was coming quickly yet it has been 2000 years. The writer of Hebrews spoke of this kind of time sensitive prayer in Hebrews 4:16:
[Heb 4:16 KJV] 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Other translations render this verse that we find “grace to help in the nick of time …” God answers our prayers according to the timing of His wisdom and not ours. Patience is our ally when we are waiting upon God. Waiting upon God can be the most excruciating experience of one’s Christian life. We have a need or a problem and we need and answer right now. God at times seems to be silent. In Luke 21:19 Jesus said “in you patience possess ye your souls…” Many times we give up and fall into unbelief just before the answer comes that would transform our lives.
[Psa 142:1-7 KJV] 1 [[Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.]] I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. 2 I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. 3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. 4 I looked on [my] right hand, and beheld, but [there was] no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. 5 I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou [art] my refuge [and] my portion in the land of the living. 6 Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. 7 Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.
Psalm 142 is given by David as a “maschil” psalm. There are 13 psalms in the book of Psalms with this description. A maschil psalm is a didactic psalm or rather a psalm written to enforce and emphasize some particular wisdom or virtue upon the hearer. Other translations render mashil as “a psalm to give understanding”. This particular psalm is believed to have been written by David when he was hiding in the cave Abdullum.
David feels very alone in his prayers. We do know that in the cave Abdullum many joined him yet David speaks of great isolation and desperation in this chapter. You can be alone in the midst of a crowd. You can feel that even God Himself doesn’t quite understand what you are going through. The heavens can seem mute to your prayers. David makes his complaint known to God as though he needs to explain to God what he is going through.
Stress can be a crippling thing. Have you ever found yourself feeling isolated, under pressure, feeling that there is no way out? This psalm is a psalm for you. We can study the prayer life of Paul and others in the New Testament. We can learn from the Lord’s prayer given by Jesus Himself. The prayer life of David however can reach us at times when nothing else quite expresses the reality of what we are facing.
In verse 5 David cries out to God saying “God you are the only rescue I can place any hope in ….” What all else has failed and you are broken in heart and spirit God comes through as the one faithful resource for every challenge and problem. David doesn’t just believe this – he is incorporating it into his prayer. Let your mouth pray. Cry out to God in your time of pressure and intense stress. Do something more than grovel in your pain. God hears and answers prayer.
In verse 7 David ends with a statement of faith. Things may look bad at that moment but he declares and in facts praises God for the deliverance that has not yet come. He looks around him at desperate circumstances and says out loud that he expects God to deal bountifully with him regardless of how bleak things seem to be at the time. This is what spiritual warfare looks like. David is assaulting the difficult circumstance with the faith filled expectation focused upon God as his savior. This is our example and when we do with our faith what David does with his faith we will see the same result.
[Psa 143:1-12 KJV] 1 [[A Psalm of David.]] Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, [and] in thy righteousness. 2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. 3 For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. 4 Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. 5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. 6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul [thirsteth] after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah. 7 Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. 8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. 9 Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me. 10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou [art] my God: thy spirit [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness. 11 Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. 12 And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I [am] thy servant.
Psalm 143 is believed to have been written when David was fleeing from his own son Absalom who had overthrown the kingdom. In this psalm David again prays for deliverance. He asks the Father to hear his prayer “in thy faithfulness…” In other words he is going through something difficult but he knows there is faithfulness in God to deliver. Things may not be progressing in his life as he might wish – in fact he is on the run from his own family. Yet he doesn’t judge God’s faithfulness in the light of difficulties he is facing. He knows that he can fail, and people can fail but God will never fail.
In verse 5 David muses that he isn’t going to look at how bad things are at the time but rather he will look back at the testimonies of times past. He has seen many deliverances and many great and wonderful things that the Father has done. David is warring against the circumstance with a contemporary testimony of the many way in which God has answered. In verses 10-11 even though David is suffering he is willing to be taught. He openly asks God to teach him in the midst of his present difficulty. He plainly and simply asks for strength to face the day and for the hand of God to deliver him from trouble.
Simple prayers are the most powerful prayers. When we are in deep problems sometimes we try to pray sophisticated prayers or perhaps we don’t pray at all. You find out what you are made of when you are under pressure. David’s prayers are very simple. He is hurting and he is going through difficulty – much of his own making. As David exemplifies for us let us ask God very simply and out of humility for deliverance and let us make every effort to stay teachable even when we are suffering so that we don’t make matters worse by our own actions.
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