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Friends in Christ,
The Lord be with you.

The Word of the Lord from Psalm 143.

Hear my prayer, O LORD;
 give ear to my pleas for mercy!
  In your faithfulness answer me,
  in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
  for no one living is righteous before you.
For the enemy has pursued my soul;
  he has crushed my life to the ground;
  he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
  my heart within me is appalled.
I remember the days of old; I meditate on
 all that you have done;
  I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
  my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Answer me quickly, O LORD!
 My spirit fails!
  Hide not your face from me,
  lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your
 steadfast love, for in you I trust.
  Make me know the way I should go,
  for to you I lift up my soul.
Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
  I have fled to you for refuge!
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!
  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
  In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
  and you will destroy all the adversaries
  of my soul, for I am your servant.

Psalm 143 is known as one of the seven penitential (confession of sin) psalms as well as a lament psalm sung by those who are in deep distress.

The situation facing psalmist here is dire. His prayer and plead for God's mercy is urgent! He begins by confessing his own sin and appealing to God's grace (v. 2). Here he shows us that times of great tribulation and suffering are times for God's people to turn to Him in repentance and faith.

It is unclear who or what is the psalmist's enemy. It could be any one of what Luther called the unholy trinity, "the devil, the world, and our sinful nature." Whoever or whatever this vicious enemy is, it has chased down the psalmist, overtaken and crushed him down to the ground and left him for dead (v. 3). The psalmist knows that he cannot save himself. Thus, he calls on the Lord who is his only refuge and hope.

Desperate for help, for rescue, for deliverance, for life, the psalmist pleads for God not to hide His face from him lest he go down to the pit, the grave. Just as a child hides behind a parent for protection, so the psalmist wants to hide in God for refuge and life. He appeals to the Lord's name, to His righteousness, His faithfulness and His unfailing covenant love (hesed).

The Lord is faithful and He always keeps His covenant. His mercy and love for His people knows no end. Therefore, He has answered this prayer. In fact, in Christ Jesus this prayer is answered for the psalmist and for us. Christ is the One who was chased down and overtaken by wicked men. He is the One was "wounded for our transgressions... crushed for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:5). He is the One who laid in the darkness of death (v.3), the One whom the Father hid His face from and did not rescue, the One whom the Father did not deliverer from the hand of our enemies, the One who went down to the pit, the grave for us.

Christ Jesus faced our enemies, all of them, head on for us! By His death He has swallowed them up and left them in His grave defeated forever. Like a child hiding behind a parent for protection our lives our now hidden in Christ (Col. 3:3), they are safe and secure in Him from all things that would seek to harm us.

Gracious and Merciful Father,
You are faithful and just, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast covenant love. You always hear the cries of your people in distress. Because You hid Your face from Your only Son on the cross, You will never ever hide Your face from Your children whose lives have been united to His in Holy Baptism. Deliver us from our enemies, remove from us fear and anxiousness, and grant us patience in the midst of trials and tribulation that trusting in Your loving-kindness and mercy we may abide in peace and live confident in hope; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn Nettleton

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at or at 970-305-2420.