1. Cry for Mercy (vv.1,2)
  2. Lament of Hopelessness (vv.3,4)
  3. Recollection and Trust (vv.5,6)
  4. Reasons for God to Act Now (vv.7-9)
  5. Plea for Restoration and Vindication (vv.10-12)
TITLE A Psalm of David (rAmz>mi [n.m.s., psalm] dwId'l. [prep.w/pr.n.].


  1. This psalm has as its background the persecution that arose out of the Bathsheba crisis.
  2. The psalms of this time of persecution are distinguished from those of the time of the persecution by Saul by the deep melancholy of the king as one conscious of his own guilt.
  3. By tradition this is known as the last of the seven penitential (Ďreboundí) psalms (Pss.6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130; but also Pss.13, 22, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31, 39, 40, 41, 55, 62, 64, 69, 70, 71, 86, 103, 109, 140).
  4. The grand total is 28 psalms devoted to that episode which speaks for itself.
  5. Psalm 103 was written as an epilogue to that crisis.
  6. Almost one-fifth of the Book of Psalms is devoted to that incident in the life of David.
  7. The main concern of David in this psalm is the jeopardy to which his enemies have brought him.
  8. In v.2 he prays in regard to his guilt.
  9. If his preoccupation at first (vv.1-9) is mainly with his troubles, towards the end (vv.10-12) it is largely with finding and following Godís way on the road ahead.
Plea Based on Godís Integrity (v.1)

VERSE 1 Hear my prayer, O LORD ([m;v. [Qal.imper., shama, hear] ytiL'piT. [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., tephillah, prayer] hw"hy> [pr.n.],

Give ear to my supplications (hn"yzIa]h; [Hiphil.imper., azan, to hear, listen] yn:Wnx]T;-la [prep. + n.m.p.w/1.c.s.sf., tachanun, supplication])!

Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness (ynInE[] [Qal.imper.w/1.c.s.sf., anah, answer] ^t.n"mua/B [prep.w/n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., amunah, faithfulness] `^t,q'd>ciB [prep.w/n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., tsedaqah, righteousness])!

Plea Based on Godís Grace (v.2)

VERSE 2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant (aAbT'-la;w> [conj.w/neg. + Qal.impef.2.m.s., bo, enter] jP'v.mib. [prep.w/n.m.s., mishepat, judgment] ^D,b.[;-ta, [dir.obj. + n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., ebhedh, servant]),

For in Your sight no man living is righteous (yKi [conj.] ^yn<p'l. [prep.w/n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., paneh, face] qD;c.yI-al{ [neg. + Qal.impf.3.m.s., tsadaq, be righteous] `yx'-lk' [n.m.s. + adj.m.s., chay, living, alive]).


  1. During the time from Davidís confession to the resolution of the crisis David offered many prayers (28 psalms are devoted to the incident).
  2. When the child conceived out of wedlock was born to David the crisis had been resolved.
  3. Davidís ordeal lasted some six months or so.
  4. Typically, David asks God to hear his "prayer" and "supplications" in the face of overwhelming odds.
  5. He was completely powerless to turn the tide that was against him.
  6. Here he appeals to Godís integrity as indicated by the words "faithfulness" and "righteousness".
  7. He desires that God act based on the attributes of +R and I.
  8. God can only act in accordance with His perfect faithfulness and righteousness.
  9. He desires a righteous resolution to the crisis.
  10. The psalmistís pleads two motives for the answering of his prayer.
  11. Godís faithfulness verifies the reality of His promises.
  12. When God upholds His promises with respect to those who are assailed He shows Himself to be faithful to His word.
  13. For David, God promised preservation of the Davidic dynasty and specific blessings upon the first occupant of that throne.
  14. The covenant made with David was in accordance with +R, or God would not have made this covenant with David.
  15. God knew the kind of man David was and made this covenant in accordance with +R.
  16. This grace covenant satisfied the perfect righteousness of the One who made it.
  17. All of Godís promises are based on +R and upheld by His faithfulness.
  18. This is the believerís hope in times of adversity.
  19. All appeals for deliverance are based on these two all-important characteristics of God.
  20. This appeal is based on the understanding that God is free to justify the sinner who seeks forgiveness.
  21. God is faithful and righteous (just) when He forgives the one who implements 1Jn.1:9.
  22. Davidís dilemma was brought on by his grievous acts.
  23. Yet, he was accorded the grace to be reinstated as a fully functional "servant" when he confessed his sin.
  24. It is within that context that David can pray for the outstanding deliverance that he needed to finish his course with honor (cf. Ps.25:18; 32:1-5; 38:18; 51:2-5).
  25. This is the background to his petition in v.2a.
  26. The gist of v.2a is that God would deal with him in accordance with grace/mercy instead of justice.
  27. Verse 2a parallels in thought Ps.103:10 (Ďreboundí psalm).
  28. If God strictly dealt with us according to our sins we would all be disqualified (Ps.130:3).
  29. We should not use this as an excuse to sin, fearing the DD and loss associated with STA activity (Ps.19:13).
  30. We should pray that God would supply us with the spiritual resources to sidestep the sin that so easily besets us and brings misery into our lives (Ps.119:11).
  31. David, during this crisis, was belabored with the actions that got him into this ordeal (Ps.51:3).
  32. His challenge was not to let human viewpoint convince him that he was somehow disqualified to press on with honor and distinction.
  33. The reality is that everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God (v.2b).
  34. All men stand in need of forgiveness and restitution.
  35. All believers sin and apart from Godís forgiving grace could not go on (Eccl.7:20; 1Kgs.8:46).
  36. Even great transgressions are covered by this grace.
  37. This crisis tested Davidís positive volition to the max.
Lament of Powerlessness over Enemies (v.3)

VERSE 3 For the enemy has persecuted my soul (yKi [conj.] byEAa [, ayabh, be hostile] @d;r' [, radhaph, pursue] yvip.n: [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., nephesh, soul]);

He has crushed my life to the ground (aK'DI [, dakha, to crush] ytiY"x; [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., chay, life] #r,a'l' [prep.w/n.f.s., erets, earth, land, ground]);

He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead (ynIb;yviAh [, yashabh, dwell] ~yKiv;x]m;b. [prep.w/n.m.p., macheshakh, dark place] ytemeK. [prep.w/, muth, to die] `~l'A[ [n.m.s., olam, long duration, ever]).

Lament of Soulish Misery (v.4)

VERSE 4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me (@Je[;t.Tiw: [conj.w/Hithpael.impf.3.f.s., ataph, to turn aside; to faint] yxiWr [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., ruach, spirit] yl;[' [prep.w/1.c.s.sf.];

My heart is appalled within me (`yBili [n.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., lebh, heart] ~meATv.yI [Hithpael.impf.3.m.s., shamem, be appalled, stun, numb] ykiAtB. [prep.w/n.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., tawek, midst]).


  1. Every phrase here is heavy with distress.
  2. There is a close similarity of these expressions with our Lordís emotions as He faced the ordeal of the Cross (Matt.26:37ff; Heb.4:15ff).
  3. We should remind ourselves that we are not alone, or less than fully understood, when we face the Ďcharge of the elephantí.
  4. David laments the vicious persecution heaped upon him by those who had no regard for what was right or in accordance with the facts.
  5. The result of the campaign to discredit and destroy him is reflected in v.3b and c.
  6. He finds himself "crushed to the ground" like someone who is at the mercy of a ruthless assailant (v.3b).
  7. All that David had was open to the depredations of violent power-mad men.
  8. He finds himself in the shadow of death (v.3b), and feels as forgotten and forsaken as any of the long forgotten spirits imprisoned in Sheol (cp. Ps.88:1-9).
  9. David was forsaken by family, acquaintances, comforters, and friends (Ps.31:11; 38:11).
  10. It has left him in a state of psychological shock.
  11. His "spirit" was often demoralized as he thought about the circumstances of his niche.
  12. The doctrine he had was "overwhelmed" by the sheer magnitude of the things that were against him.
  13. The strong verb "overwhelmed", of "faints", is found in nearby Ps.142:3 (cp. Ps.77:4; 107:5).
  14. The verb "appalled" can be rendered "numbed".
  15. At those times when he was out of fellowship his mental state is best described as a state of shock.
  16. David reflects upon his shaken psychological state in other psalms dealing with this crisis (Ps.6:3).
  17. He did not handle every moment of the test well, but as vv.4,5 indicate he had the resiliency to right himself by focusing on Godís ability to reverse impossible situations.
Recollection of What God can do (v.5)

VERSE 5 I remember the days of old (yTir>k;z" [, zakhar, remember] ~ymiy" [n.m.p., yom, day] ~d,Q,mi [prep.w/n.m.s., qedem, east; antiquity]);

I meditate on all Your doings (ytiygIh' [, haghah, to moan, growl, mutter; meditate] ^l,[\P'-lk'b. [prep.w/n.m.s.cstr. + n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., po-al, deed, doing]);

I muse on the work of Your hands (`x;xeAfa] [Piel.impf.1.c.s., siach, to put forth, complain, ponder, muse]) hfe[]m;B. [prep.w/n.m.s.cstr., ma-aseh, work] ^yd,y" [n.f.dual.w/2.m.s.sf., yadh, hand]).

Application of What He Knows (v.6)

VERSE 6 I stretch out my hands to You (yTif.r;Pe [, paras, spread out, stretch] yd;y" [n.f.dual.w/1.c.s.sf., yadh, hand] ^yl,ae [prep.w/2.m.s.sf.]);

My soul longs for You, as a parched land (yvip.n: [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., nephesh, soul] ^l. [prep.w/2.m.s.sf.] hp'yE[]-#r,a,K. [prep.w/n.f.s., eretz, + adj.f.s., ayeph, parched]). [Selah (`hl's, [a technical musical term probably showing accentuation]).


  1. The mood is not nostalgia, that fruitless yearning for other times and places, but recollection of what God can do.
  2. It may have included Davidís own experiences of deliverance, but it takes on a bigger picture, the acts of God in the history of His people and creation.
  3. A review of salvation history encourages him to turn to God and ask a comparable miracle toward His beleaguered servant (v.6).
  4. In that past history of his people he sees the manifestation of Godís character as one who cares and saves.
  5. Such precedents of deliverance wrought by the divine hands encourages him to get in fellowship and pray.
  6. His own hands are uplifted empty in a yearning gesture of need and dependency from a situation analogous to a parched land.
  7. The stretching out of his "hands" indicates his total dependency upon the God of the impossible (cp. Ps.88:9).
  8. He knew the promises required that he be accorded the same limelight as those who had gone before.
  9. His "soul longed for" relief in the "parched land" of his sufferings (cp. Ps.42:2).
Reasons for God to Act Now (vv.7-9)
What He Wants to Avoid (v.7)

VERSE 7 Answer me quickly, O LORD, my spirit fails (ynInE[] [Qal.imper.w/1.c.s.sf., anah, answer] rhem; [Piel.imper., mahar, hasten, make haste; "quickly"; the translation: "Answer me, hurry up"] hw"hy> [pr.n.] yxiWr [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., ruach, spirit] ht'l.K' [, kalah, to cease, fail]);

Do not hide Your face from me (rTes.T;-la; [neg. + Hiphil.impf.2.m.s., sathar, hide]; ^yn<P [, paneh, face] yNIM,mi; [prep.w/1.c.s.sf., "from me"]),

Or I will become like those who go down to the pit (yTil.v;m.nIw> [conj.w/, mashal, be like, be similar] yder>yO-~[I [prep. +, yaradh, go down] `rAb [n.m.s., bor, pit, well, cistern]).

Petition for Guidance (v.8)

VERSE 8 Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning (ynI[eymiv.h; [Hiphil.imper.w/1.c.s.sf., shama, hear] ^D,s.x; [n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., chesedh] rq,Bob; [prep.w/n.m.s., boqer, morning]);

For I trust in You (^b.-yKi [conj. + prep.w/2.m.s.sf., "ForÖin You"] yTix.j'b' [, batach, trust]);

Teach me the way in which I should walk (ynI[eydIAh [Hiphil.imper.w/1.c.s.sf., yada, know; teach] Wz-%r,D, [n.f.s., derek, + pro., zu, this, which] %leae [Qal.impf.1.c.s., halakh, walk]);

For to You I lift up my soul (^yl,ae-yKi [conj. + prep.w/2.m.s.sf.] ytiaf'n" [Qal.ppf.1.c.s., nasa, lift] `yvip.n: [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., nephesh, soul]).

Total Dependence (v.9)

VERSE 9 Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies (ynIleyCih [Hiphil.imper.w/1.c.s.sf., natsal, snatch away] hw"hy> [pr.n.] yb;y>aome [prep.w/, ayabh, be hostile]);

I take refuge in You (`ytiSiki [, kasah, to cover, to take cover; "take refuge"] ^yl,ae [prep.w/2.m.s.sf., "in You"]).


  1. In the second half of the psalm the tempo quickens with an urgent, breathless series of appeals.
  2. The "Selah" further indicates this.
  3. He badly needs help to avert an untimely death.
  4. Dying before his time would send a strong message that he was a pathetic example of Godís wrath.
  5. A desire to avoid the SUD that he had been put under through the disease that ravaged his body is noted in other psalms of this category (cf. Ps 28:1).
  6. He laments that he cannot endure much more of this pressure as indicated by the words "my spirit fails".
  7. David was brought to the absolute limit of his inner resources to cope.
  8. He asks God not to hide His face as He would towards someone whom He was against and was under the SUD (v.7b; cp. Pss.27:9; 69:17; 102:2).
  9. In v.8 he employs an analogy.
  10. He was in the dark night of adversity and yearns for the morning of rescue and restitution.
  11. The word "morning" is a recognition that the night of his discontent is not endless (cp. Ps.30:5).
  12. He reminds God that he still trusts in Him (v.8b).
  13. He prays that as long as the crisis persists that God will give him the poise to apply to the end (v.8c).
  14. He asks that God "teach" him "the way to walk" so that he can glorify God through the ordeal (v.8c; cp. Pss.27:11; 32:8).
  15. He does not want to resort to STA sponsored actions that will only make matters worse.
  16. The STA is always looking for a way to trip us up.
  17. He desires to do the things that are in line with what God expects of him as the crisis approaches resolution.
  18. We should ever be looking to God for insight as to how we should conduct ourselves when the pressure is on.
  19. He informs God that he continues to look to him for guidance (v.8d).
  20. He never assumed that he had all the answers.
  21. He was always looking for insight that would keep him from drifting into STA sponsored solutions.
  22. He realizes that his enemies must be dealt with if the crisis is to have a favorable solution, and he looks to One who has bailed him out many times.
  23. His plea for deliverance in v.9a is coupled with his confession of trust (v.9b).
Desire to Return to Normalcy (v.10)

VERSE 10 Teach me to do Your will (ynIdeM.l [Piel.imper.w/1.c.s.sf., lamadh, teach] tAf[]l [prep.w/Qal.infin.cstr., asah, do] ^n<Acr> [n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., ratson, pleasure, delight; "will"]),

For You are my God (hT'a;-yKi [conj. +] yh'Ala/ [n.m.p.w/2.m.s.sf., elohim]);

Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (hb'Aj [adj.f.s., tobh, good] ^x]Wr [n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., ruach, spirit] ynIxen>T; [Hiphil.impf.3.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., nachah, lead, guide] #r,a,B. [prep.w/n.f.s., ground] `rAvym [n.m.s., mishor, level place]).

Plea for Preservation and Deliverance (v.11)

VERSE 11 For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me (^![;m;l. [prep., lama-an, in view of, + n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., shem, name] hw"hy> [pr.n.] ynIYEx;T. [Piel.impf.2.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., chayah, to live; preserve alive]).

In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble (^t.q'd>ciB. [prep.w/n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., tsedhaqah, righteousness] ayciAt [Hiphil.impf.2.m.s., yatsa, go out; bring out] `yvip.n: [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., nephesh, soul] hr'C'm [prep.w/n.f.s., tsarah, trouble]).

Imprecation Against Enemies of the Covenant (v.12)

VERSE 12 And in Your lovingkindness cut off my enemies (^D>s.x;b.W [conj.w/n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf, chesed] tymic.T; [Hiphil.impf.2.m.s., tsamath, put an end to] yb'y>ao [, ayabh]),

And destroy all those who afflict my soul (T'd>b;a]h;w> [conj.w/, abhadh, perish; cause to perish; "destroy"] yrer]co-lK' [n.m.s. +, tsarar, to bind, cause distress] yvip.n: [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., nephesh, soul]);

For I am Your servant (yKi [conj.] ynIa] [] `^D,b.[; [n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., ebedh, servant]).


  1. Three times in vv.8-10 David prays for guidance.
  2. Each request has its own nuance.
  3. The first time lends itself to the notion that each of us has an individual destiny, i.e., that each of us is specially placed and called (cf. Jn.21:21ff).
  4. "Teach me to do Your will" (v.10a) makes the goal not self-fulfillment but pleasing God and finishing the tasks before us.
  5. The confession "You are my God" suggests that we are not our own captains but we are here in the interests of the One who matters.
  6. Those things we do that are outside the boundaries of the Directive Will, will not be established in the final evaluation.
  7. David, after having pursued his own fleshly interests, looks to God to pilot his future.
  8. This guarantees that his life will be productive and meaningful both for time and eternity.
  9. He has had it with self-seeking, but even this episode in the life of an otherwise positive believer is in accord with Rom.8:28.
  10. The words "lead me" (v.10c) speak with humility of the one who knows he needs shepherding, not merely of having the right way pointed out to him.
  11. David, no less than Paul (Rom.8:14; Gal.5:18), teaches us to look to the "good Spirit" for this leading.
  12. In other words, for an inward look of inclining the will and activating the mind.
  13. The plea for "level ground" implies the admission that one is prone to stumble and stray.
  14. The phrase also carries the idea of Ďthe land of uprightnessí.
  15. Davidís horrific error was that he entered into territory dictated by his lust pattern.
  16. He wants to avoid situations and associations that would throw his life into the chaos of DD and notable failure.
  17. This petition is reflected in the words "lead us not into temptation".
  18. We should offer this prayer frequently, and we should be on our guard lest we stray into territory that is fraught with error and peril.
  19. Meanwhile he has to deal with the pressures brought on by his own carelessness, and so he prays for preservation that is in accordance with the divine name (v.11a).
  20. He asks only for a deliverance that is righteous as God is +R (v.11b).
  21. Corollary to this is his plea that his enemies be dealt with according to Godís devotion (chesed) to His promises (v.12).
  22. He asks that they be "cut off", for that is the only way that the strict demands of the Davidic Covenant can be satisfied.
  23. God through His promises is pledged to His servant as surely as His servant has shown himself to be pledged to God.
  24. The line "I am Your servant" as is the line "You are my God" (v.10b) indicates commitment.
  25. If God was indifferent with respect to His name, for the cause of right or for His covenants, we would have cause for grave concern about any of His promises.
  26. This is our rock and anchor in the heat of the Angelic Conflict.
  27. We count on God to uphold all of His promises and righteousness.
JUNE, 1998
© Copyright 1998, Maranatha Church, Inc.