Psalms 143-144

Talks for Growing Christians

David’s Last Penitential Psalm; The Key to Success and Happiness

Psalms 143-144

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Lesson Number 102

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. There is a biblical position for the penitent.
  2. Godly people have the key to happiness.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t jump to the wrong conclusion about God’s discipline!
  2. Don’t forget the prophetic implications of the psalms.


  1. What is a penitential psalm? Which psalms are penitential psalms?
  2. Give a few examples of penitential acts that do not reflect the biblical position of penitence.
  3. Review the five aspects of biblical penitence drawn from Psalm 143.
  4. What is interesting about the content of Psalm 144?
  5. Give an outline for Psalm 144.


  1. In a penitential psalm, the psalmist recognizes that his distress and trouble are because of his own sin and thus his lament is a confession of sin. The seven penitential psalms are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143.
  2. Doing some act of penance such as self-flagellation, practicing asceticism, or going on a pilgrimage are not biblical models of penitence.
  3. 1) Confess our sin and acknowledge that we deserve God’s righteous judgment. (verses 1-2) 2) Recognize that God uses all kinds of discipline in our lives. (verses 3-4) 3) Long for the blessings of the past before sin came in to disrupt our fellowship with the Lord. (verses 5-6) 4) Desire to be taught and guided in the ways of the Lord – not your own ways. (verses 7-10) 5) Want God’s glory, righteousness, and loyal love to be magnified. (verses 11-12)
  4. This psalm contains 9 quotations from other psalms, especially Psalm 18.
  5. Praise to the Lord for past victories – verses 1-4 Confident prayer for present deliverance – verses 5-11 A look to the Lord’s promised future blessings – verses 12-14 The key to happiness \ The secret of success – verse 15


  1. In Psalm 143 we see how David reacts when faced with sin in his own life. Looking at the five aspects of biblical penitence above, discuss why it is often hard for us to have the right mindset about our sin. Do you find it easier to fall into false guilt or over-compensation for your sin? How can you implement this model of biblical penitence in your life?
  2. Think of the various “secrets of success” you have heard people discuss within the last month. Psalm 144 contains the true key to happiness! It is to know the God of the Bible and make Him Lord of your life (Psalm 144:15).


  1. The Bible clearly teaches that God can use sickness and distress – even death – to discipline His erring children. But don’t assume that every time you or someone else is sick or experience hard times that it is God’s discipline for some sin in your life.

Key Verses

  • “I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.” Psalm 143:6
  • “Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.” Psalm 143:8
  • Happy are the people whose God is the LORD! Psalms 144:15

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