Penitential Psalms 7: Psalm 143

Psalm 143 is a penitential psalm, a David-psalm that comes just before the set of hallelujah psalms that end the Psalter. Both the final two penitential psalms are placed in a context of praise and worship. Repentance is part of the worship of God. Psalm 143 contains wisdom-related words and phrase such as “teach”and “way.” At least two of the penitential psalms have this sort of wisdom language. Psalm 32 is the other place I noticed the language in this series.

The contrast between the penitent’s spirit and God’s Spirit in Psalm 143 is interesting. The penitent’s spirit grows faint and fails. The penitent asks that God’s good Spirit lead him or her on level ground. This is paralleled with the penitent’s request for God’s teaching. God’s Spirit is thus linked with the wisdom language of the psalm.

In the end the penitent asks God to save his or her life for the sake of the Name. “For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life.” The preservation of the penitent’s life would bring honour to the Name of God. The penitent’s plea for mercy was based on the name of the Lord. For Christians, our plea for mercy is based on the name of Jesus.


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