Remembering God’s Help

Remembering God's work in the past can give you encouragement for living in the present.

May 9, 2022

"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.  I stretch forth my hands unto thee:  My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.  Selah."

Psalm 143:5-6

In this psalm (143), David is going through difficult times.

For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.  Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate” (Psalm 143:3-4).

We all run into hard times in our lives.  But the question is, do we, like David, turn to the Lord when things get tough?  This rough patch in his life has turned David’s eyes back to what the Lord has done in better days in the past.  David didn’t run from the Lord but to the Lord.


“I remember the days of old.”
Perhaps he thought about better days in Israel.

“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee and were delivered: they trusted in thee and were not confounded” (Psalm 22:3-5).

He contrasts the better days of the past to what he is dealing with in the present.

I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search” (Psalm 77:5-6).

“Thou hast often helped me, often delivered me. I will therefore trust in thee, for thy mercy is not clean gone from me” [1] (Clarke).

David knows God has helped him in the past, and he is counting on His help again in the present.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar” (Psalm 42:6).

What an excellent example for us.  When we are in need and are down and feel the pressures of daily life closing in on us, we need to remember what God has done for us in the past.  He will again help His child.  During the bad times, what helped David was remembering what God had already done for him.

“When we see nothing new which can cheer us, let us think upon old things.  We once had merry days, days of deliverance, and joy and thanksgiving; why not again?” [2] (Spurgeon).


“I meditate on all thy works.”
David did not just give a cursory thought to those times, but he made God’s works a matter of his meditation.  Bible meditation has nothing to do with today’s pop version of “meditation.”

“Meditation in the [Old Testament] involves thinking about Yahweh and expressing those thoughts” [3] (FSB).

How can we meditate scripturally today?  A friend of mine says, “if you can worry, you can meditate!” [4]  Worry is thinking about a problem from all sides.  Meditation is rolling an idea around in your brain so you can see it from all angles.  This is how David meditated on the works of God.  He thought about them from all sides and marveled at their beauty.

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings” (Psalm 77:11-12).


“I muse on the work of thy hands.”
Growing up as a shepherd and spending time out of doors, David must have loved learning of God’s creation.

“For David, what made the past worth remembering was the work of the LORD.  He thought carefully about what God had done; meditate and muse are words that speak of deep thought” [5] (EWC).

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion” (Psalm 111:4).

“The work of God’s hands probably refers to all of his acts of creation and sustenance (8:6; 19:1; 28:5; 102:26; Isaiah 5:12).  When David looked back on what God had done in the past, he deeply desired God” [6] (CSB).


“I stretch forth my hands unto thee.”
The “works of God’s hands” caused David to reach his hands out to God.  Isn’t this the natural action of a child in need toward their parents?  So don’t we stretch our hands out to God when we need comfort or help?

“Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee” (Psalm 88:9).


“My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.”
David understood who could relieve his thirsty soul.

My soul longs for you – The Hebrew phrase used here may be literally rendered “my soul is as parched earth for you” [7] (FSB).

Before salvation, my soul was as thirsty as parched earth for Jesus!

“…As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O GodMy soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).

“…O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary” (Psalm 63:1-2).

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

“Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:8-9).

David’s life habit was to turn to the Lord whenever he had trouble.  He knew the Lord could handle any need he had.  Looking at Jehovah’s works strengthened David for what is happening in the present and what could happen to him in the future.

“…David mustered confidence when he remembered the former days.  His faith was rekindled, and his spirit strengthened when he recalled the mighty works of the Lord in the past.  So he prayed eagerly for the Lord to meet the needs of his hungry, thirsty (cf. 42:2) heart.  The image of parched land portrays his soul’s great spiritual need at that moment that God would come to his rescue” [8] (BKC).


Quote:  And then there are these beautiful and timely words of Jesus – “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).  Have you ever taken your thirsty soul to Jesus?  Only He can satisfy the longing in our souls!




[1] ACC – Adam Clarke.  Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, the electronic version in eSword.
[2] Spurgeon’s quote is from EWC – David Guzik.  Enduring Word Commentary, the electronic version in eSword.
[3] FSB, John D. Barry, Douglas Mangum, Derek R. Brown, et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ps 143:5–6.
[4] Marty Herron.
[5] EWC, ibid.
[6] CSB, Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 938.
[7] FSB, ibid.
[8] BKC, Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 894.