Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love. Psalm 143:8
In 2019, Cap Dashwood and his sweet black lab companion, Chaela (“Chae” in memory of his lab who died; “la,” Dashwood’s abbreviation for “Labrador angel”), accomplished something remarkable: reaching a mountain summit each day for 365 consecutive days.
Dashwood has a moving story to tell. He left home at sixteen, explaining simply, “Bad family life.” But these past wounds led him to find healing elsewhere. He explains, “Sometimes when you’re disappointed by people, you turn to something else. You know?” For Dashwood, mountain climbing and the unconditional love of his black lab companion has been a big part of that “something else.”
For those of us, like myself, who deeply love our animal companions, a big piece of why we do is the sweet, utterly unconditional love they pour out—a kind of love that’s rare. But I like to think the love they effortlessly give points to a much greater and deeper reality than the failures of others—God’s unshakable, boundless love upholding the universe.
In Psalm 143, as in many of his prayers, it’s only David’s faith in that unshakable, “unfailing love” (v. 12) that tethers him to hope in a time when he feels utterly alone. But a lifetime of walking with God gives him just enough strength to trust that the morning will “bring me word of your unfailing love” (v. 8).
Just enough hope to trust again and to let God lead the way to paths unknown (v. 8).
What signs of God’s unfailing, unending love do you see in the world around you? How have your experiences of the love of God through others or even animal companions given you renewed hope and courage?
Loving God, thank You for showing me how to believe in love and joy again. Help me to be a channel of that hope for others.
Church tradition has categorized Psalm 143 as one of the seven penitential psalms (psalms of confession) in which the writer expresses sorrow and repentance for sins. But only verse 2 fits that description neatly. The primary point of the poem is David’s desperate request for deliverance. Verses 3–4 outline the problem: he’s hiding from his enemy—quite possibly his own son Absalom. All the remaining verses address God directly, either appealing to Him for help or extolling His righteousness and recalling His previous help in times of need. The penitential aspect of the second verse provides a model for us in our own pleas to God for deliverance from danger. The greatest rescue we need is from our own sin.