1Hear my prayer, O LORD;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3For 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.
4Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
7 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.
8 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.
9 Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
I have fled to you for refuge!
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12And 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.
I know a man who went to prison, falsely accused of a crime. He eventually was released, but spent several months in a cell, wondering what was going to happen to him. I think of him as I pray this psalm. These might have been his words. The Psalm is attributed to David, but it tells us nothing else about when or why David wrote it.
He begins by praying to God for an audience, that God would hear his prayer in mercy, for no one is righteous before God. He sits in darkness because an enemy has pursued him and crushed his life to the ground. Sitting in darkness reminds me of my friend who sat in a prison cell. As my friend confessed to me, David struggles. His spirit fails him. He remembers what God has done in the past and he stretches out his hands in prayer, his soul parched for God.
The rest of the psalm is David’s plea for deliverance. “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust…Deliver me from my enemies…For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!”
He prays that the good Spirit of God leads him on level ground. We would all be in a dank prison of sin and death without God’s help. He has poured out his Spirit, like a great flood upon the earth. It finds its way in to dark places, our places, and leads us out of Sin’s bondage to places where we may walk in His light. My friend got out of prison. He has devoted his life to living in the freedom to love and care for others.