Your Unfailing Love- Psalm 143:8

As we come to verse 8 in this Psalm, we reach what can be seen as a turning point, a place in which David begins to turn around, and we will examine this verse closely to see exactly what brings about this change of focus in David. David’s experience in the cave thus far has brought him to the end of himself, and this journey to the end of himself brings him to God. At the bottom of it all, David knows who God is, that God is “unfailing love”, and it is this which David clings to when all else is gone, and it is his clinging to this which turns him around. He now asks that morning may “bring me word of your unfailing love”. The Hebrew translated “bring me word” here is sama, which refers to hearing with understanding and obedience to what one hears. The best English way to put this is through the old expression to “take heed”. In using this term, David expresses his desire to hear something, but also his desire to understand it and order his life in accordance with it. And what he wants to hear, understand and order his life by is God’s “unfailing love”, or hesed in the Hebrew. This Hebrew term is one of the most important terms used in the Old Testament, and refers primarily to God’s covenant love and faithfulness. God made a covenant commitment to His people, to love them, and to be faithful to them and His love for them no matter what. God’s hesed means that His love for His people is unfailing, that He will never fail to do what is right by and what is best for His people, and it is this hesed which David finds at the journey to the end of himself, and David here expresses his commitment to and ultimate trust in that fact. He knows above all else that God loves him and will always do what is best for him. He now begins to realize that if God has him here that this experience must somehow be for his good, and David now submits to that. It is this sama, this understanding, which turns David around. His prayer now turns from please deliver from this situation to God help me to understand what you are trying to tell me in this situation. He now prays that God would give him the understanding to learn from his circumstances and re-orient his life in accordance with what he learns. His focus begins to turn from the circumstance and toward God, he finally rests upon the foundation of who he ultimately knows God is, the God of hesed. He shows all of this in his next words, which are “for I have put my trust in you”. The Hebrew word trust here is basah, which expresses not merely a wish, but rather a confident expectation. David knows God is a God of hesed to His people, and David here shows his confidence in the fact of God’s hesed, and his commitment to act in accordance with what he learns from this experience. He then further expresses his trust in God to deliver him not from but through this circumstance by asking God to show him “the way he should go”. The word show here is yada in the Hebrew, a word which expresses experiential knowledge, to grow to know by experience. Through his experience here, David has grown to know both himself and God better. He is learning from this experience how to better follow God’s leading and guidance when he emerges from the cave. What he now wants to grow to know is “the way I should go”. This phrase is a Hebrew idiom referring to one’s lifestyle, with the primary idea of a “path”. In other words, David is asking God to put him back on the right path for his life. He realizes being on the wrong path has brought him here, and he asks God to lead him on the right path when he leaves. He then comes to the place to which God ultimately desired him to come through this experience in the cave, to the place where he “lifts up his soul”. The Hebrew word “lift up” is nasa, which has a rather wide range of meaning. One of its fundamental understandings in the Old Testament is in the idea of a sacrifice offered up to bear the guilt and punishment of sin. The “soul” here is used to represent the “self”, the very core of David’s being, and what David is doing here is offering himself to God as “living sacrifice”, saying essentially to God, “here I am, do with me what you will”. So we see, from this verse, that David’s journey to the end of himself, ultimately brings him to God, brings him to rely on what he ultimately knows to be true, the fact of God’s hesed. It is this trust in who God is, that God loves him, and that God is allowing all of this for his good which turns him around and sets his heart and mind toward a commitment to find and follow the right path for him when he emerges from the cave, a commitment to continually “lift up his soul”. May all believers come to the ultimate knowledge of God’s hesed, and learn to lean on that knowledge in the tribulations of life, just as David does here, to continually lift up their souls to Him.

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