My Spirit Fails- Psalm 143:7

We come here, in verse 7, to an example of what happens when someone reaches a level of total desperation, when he sees no way out of his current situation. David refers to it here through the use of the phrase “my spirit fails”. We will recall that David is in this cave hiding for his life from his own son, who is looking to kill him. He has reached the end of his rope, and now realizes that his being in this situation is primarily his own doing, that he has ultimately been the catalyst of his own undoing. God has caused him to end up here for a reason, but his own unwillingness to deal with past issues in his own family bore just as much responsibility for his current status as God’s sovereign direction for him. He has come to the realization that he is completely unable to deliver himself from his predicament and calls on God to do so. He asks God here to “come quickly”, or more literally to come “with haste”. The reason he needs God to come “with haste” is that his “spirit fails”. There is a wide range of possibility as to exactly what this phrase may mean here, due to the large range of possible meanings for the Hebrew word ruach, translated as “spirit” here in the NIV. The basic meaning of this root in the Hebrew is “to blow”, and is commonly described as referring to air in motion. It can be used to refer to breath, to life (for things that breathe are alive), and also to wind when it is used in a more literal fashion. It also can be used poetically or metaphorically to refer to that which moves someone or something, or to that which inspires (notice the root of spirit in the word inspiration) someone. We must recall that this Psalm is written in poetic form, and the use of spirit here is most likely in its poetic sense. David’s “spirit failing” here most likely refers to the fact that he is about to give up all hope, that he is basically saying “I’m done”, I have lost my will to go on, that I am about to call it quits, that if God does not come by morning I may as well just end it all, may as well just run outside the cave, jump up and down shouting and let Absalom’s men kill me. This understanding is further supported by the parallel expression in the second line of the verse, in which David tells us that if God does not come in haste, he will be like “those who go down to the pit”. The word pit here is sheol in the Hebrew, and refers to the abode of the dead. The pit here refers not to hell, but to the grave, and David now has reached the place in which this choice seems like a valid option. God has truly brought him to the end of himself, to where he feels he does not have the strength to face another day, and David, like the apostle Paul in the NT, “despairs even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8). What David does not know right now, but is about to find out, is that God truly has brought him to this place for his own good, that it is only here, in this state of mind, that he will finally deal with the unresolved issues which have brought him here in the first place, and will be able to truly be all God has created him to be and do all God will call him to do, to be the king God intends him to be. So what we find here is that it is paradoxically true that it is often only when God brings us to the end of ourselves that we truly find ourselves. It is often only when we come to the end of who we were that we are enabled to become who we truly are, and can go on to become all of who we are meant to be. May we all come to realize that if God brings us to a “cave”, He knows what He is doing, and may we realize quickly our need to look to Him, for it is only when we finally quit looking at ourselves, when we finally come to the end of ourselves, and take our eyes off of ourselves long enough to sincerely cry out to Him that we can become what we are truly meant to be and do what we are created and called to do.

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