I recently saw a meme that said, “On Dec. 31, I am staying up until midnight, not that I want to see the New Year in, but that I can make sure this one goes out.” I can’t remember the last time I was awake at midnight, but this year I might force myself to stay up, because I too, want to make sure this year departs. Between all the political shenanigans, the chaos of the riots, and the crisis of the Covid pandemic, it seems as if logical thinking and righteous living has been thrown in the dumpster and replaced with the unbridled expressions of emotion and a “do as you please” ethic of living. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but if the news outlets were only allowed to broadcast “good news,” there would be a lot of empty space in the newspapers and the 24-hour news channels would be reduced to about 10 minutes (if that much). By now you are probably thinking, “Wow, Reiner has really become cynical!” If my focus for living was only on current events, you would be correct. But my vision for life also includes an optimistic confidence in the will of God being accomplished in time, regardless of the failure of mankind.
Psalm 143 is a psalm of David. It was written approximately 1000 BC. If it were not for the superscription to the psalm, you would think that the author was a contemporary. The first 5 verses reveal David’s despair of the conditions of his day. My paraphrase of verse 6 is that David is throwing up his hands and asking God, “What in the world is going on here?” And that is exactly what the believer in Jesus Christ must do in order to avoid giving up on life. It is one’s communication with God (the believer to God by prayer and God to the believer through Scripture) that offsets the gloom of the daily news.
Beginning in verse 7, David petitions God to do at least 6 things to him. The first is that God would hear him. David could vent his frustrations, but his venting would be to no avail if there was not One to hear him and One who could do something about his situation. Christians have the promise that God does hear the prayers that are according to His will and answers them (1 John 5:14-15). He bids us to come to Him with whatever burdens our hearts (Hebrews 4:16).
In verse 8 David asks for God to respond to his prayers in two ways. First is that he might hear, and consequently know the response of God found in His lovingkindness (cause me to hear…). The second is that he might understand and apply the truth of God in his life (cause me to know…). Whenever the believer applies the Word of God to their life, they will walk righteously. “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” (Psalm 119:160)
In verse 9 David seeks deliverance from God. The will of God may not include immediate deliverance from those who do evil, but ultimately, the one who trusts in God is more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
Verse 10 lists 2 requests that are in reality one. The first is to be taught the will of God. The second is to be led by the Spirit to do it. Genuine Christian living is more than simply knowing the Word of God theoretically, but it is also doing the will of God. And in doing the will of God comes the opportunity of dispelling the errors of mankind’s ungodliness (1 Peter 2:15).
The result of God’s response to David’s petitions is found in verses 11 and 12. There David’s soul is revived. Despair is transformed into confidence that the enemies of his soul (all the things that might cause cynicism) would be rendered powerless.
The God that David prayed to is the same God today that He was 3000 years ago. Consequently, I have the same hope today as David did way back when. Therefore, I can remain positive in this negative world.