1 A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.
I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. 2 I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.
3 When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. 4 Look to my right and see; no-one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no-one cares for my life.
5 I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” 6 Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
Psalm 142 – With God in the cave
(Verses 1-2) This prayer is similar to some of David’s other prayers in the psalms he writes. He often starts with urgent prayer because of some testing problem he faces. He works through the situation in prayer until he arrives at God. That always makes a big difference to David. Like him, we should focus on God when we pray. Psalm 142 starts with his cry to God for mercy. David tells God that he will ‘pour out’ his ‘complaint before Him’ and then share his ‘trouble’ with his Lord. It is far wiser to share what is on his mind with God first, than to be worried or fearful or discuss it with other people before he has made it known to his Lord. We need to have ‘God first’ as our aim. The apostle Peter wrote, in 1 Peter 5:7,‘Cast all your anxiety on Him [the Lord] because he cares for you.’ That is what God the Father wants His ‘born again’ children to do. If God the Son is your Saviour, God the Father is your father, and God the Holy Spirit is your Helper, you have every reason to do that.
(Verses 3-4) David shares with God why he knows he needs His help and support. He speaks in general about how God can help, but he has King Saul’s opposition in mind. He helps His disciples when they need it. David needs His help when:
- his ‘spirit grows faint within [him].’
- foes try to snare and trap him.
- ‘no-one’ (except God) is ‘concerned for [him] or ‘cares for [his] life’.
- he has ‘no refuge’ (except God)
David’s specific troubling problem is referred to in the title: ‘A Prayer when he [David] was in the cave’. David continues to hide in Adullam’s cave with a growing group of seeming misfits whom David will mould into his army of ‘mighty men’.
(1 Samuel 22:1-2). David now hides from King Saul who, with his national forces, hunts David to kill him. (1 Samuel 8:24). It seems a question of time before David is found and killed. God has other ideas. But David might well feel faint, trapped, relatively alone, and with no refuge except God. You may never be in a situation like David’s, but if you know the Lord Jesus Christ, remember that, if your ‘Adullam’s cave’ experience causes you to worry, fear or despair, Jesus promises all those who trust Him that ‘God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”’ (Hebrews 13:5). He will never let you down. Keep close to Him each day.
(Verses 5-7) In this weak and vulnerable position, David now focuses afresh on God. See how he relates to God. Learn for yourself how to trust and follow Jesus when the pressure is on you. David cries out, ‘O LORD’ again. He reminds himself that God is his refuge. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place to bear our sins and their penalty, rose again, and lives today. He is our refuge, if we turn from sin to receive Him into our lives. God is David’s ‘portion’. The LORD is also all we need. In his low state, David asks God to answer him. He asks to be rescued and freed from his ‘prison’ in that cave. He is confident that he will meet with other believers again, and that God ‘will deal bountifully with’ [him]. God does all that!