Scripture reading – Psalm 142

While I cannot say definitively when David penned Psalm 142, the psalm’s title gives us the occasion: Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.” (“Maschil” is a contemplative song.)


Two occasions recorded in 1 Samuel placed David “in the cave.”


First, he sought refuge in the cave of Adullam when he understood King Saul intended to kill him (1 Samuel 22:1). David’s family joined him there. Later, when he retreated to “the wilderness of Engedi” (1 Samuel 24:1), David and six hundred men hid in a cave overlooking Israel’s encampment (1 Samuel 24:2-4). Providentially, it was the same cavern where Saul retreated for privacy, and David spared his life (1 Samuel 24:2-4).


Psalm 142


Our Scripture reading for today is 1 Samuel 25 and Psalm 142. However, before we consider 1 Samuel 25, I invite you to read Psalm 142. I believe this psalm reflected David’s state of heart when he received the news that the prophet Samuel was dead (1 Samuel 25:1).


Perhaps it was the loss of Samuel, his spiritual leader who had anointed him to succeed Saul as king (1 Samuel 13:14, 1 Samuel 16:11-13), that moved David to write: “I looked [beheld; gazed intently] on my right hand, and beheld, But there was no man that would know me [no one took notice]: Refuge failed me; No man cared [sought for; inquired after] for my soul.” (Psalm 142:4).


David’s Complaint (Psalm 142:1-2)


Where do you turn when you struggle with thoughts and feelings of abandonment? David modeled the answer to that question, writing: “I cried [i.e., cried out loud] unto the LORD with my voice; With my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication [I asked for God’s favor and mercy]. I poured out my complaint [anxieties] before him; I shewed before him my trouble” (Psalm 142:1-2).


The LORD knew David’s troubles, but it was freeing for him to acknowledge and state his anxieties in prayer.

David’s Loneliness and the Malice of His Enemies (Psalm 142:3-4)


David confessed, “My spirit was overwhelmed within me,” even as he admitted he did not see a way forward (Psalm 141:3a). Though it did not lift the cloud that shadowed him, David took comfort knowing the LORD understood the hard place where he found himself (Psalm 141:3b).


In his despair, David looked for someone who might encourage him (Psalm 141:4), but he found no man to offer strength or comfort (Psalm 141:4). Tragically, he felt none seemed to care or take notice of his despair (Psalm 141:4b).


David’s Comfort and Hope in the LORD (Psalm 142:5-6)


Having exhausted every hope of comfort or rescue, David cried to the LORD and said, “Thou [the LORD] art my refuge [shelter] and my portion [share] in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5). He had come to realize there was no one who could rescue him. He realized only the LORD could save him from his “persecutors” (Psalm 142:6).


David’s Expectation of Salvation and Faith in the Righteous (Psalm 142:7)


Believing that the LORD would hear and answer his prayer, David petitioned, “Bring my soul out of prison”(Psalm 142:7a), the spiritually gloomy place he found himself. Then, renewing his faith in God, David promised to use his deliverance “out of prison” to praise the LORD’s name and declare His goodness to the righteous (Psalm 142:7).


Closing thoughts:


Your circumstances may reflect David’s sentiments and loneliness. After all, we are social creatures by nature, and loneliness is a haunt of us all at times. Remember, when God created Adam, He observed, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So, the LORD created Eve, who was not only his soulmate but also Adam’s “help meet” (Genesis 2:18).


Trials and trying circumstances can leave you feeling lonely and abandoned. Indeed, disappointments, failure, sickness, or the death of a loved one will intensify one’s isolation. When you feel “no one cares” (Psalm 142:4), I urge you to follow David’s example and cry, “O LORD…Thou art my refuge” (Psalm 142:5).


Questions to consider:


1) How did David describe his prayer to the LORD? (Psalm 142:1-2)


2) What had David’s enemies placed in his path? (Psalm 142:3)


3) What did David promise if the LORD delivered his “soul out of prison?”  Psalm 142:7)


Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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