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.
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, Lord;
I say, ‘You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.’
Listen to my cry,(Ps. 142:1-7 NIV)
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
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.
The Psalmist is in great distress. It is uncertain whether the prison mentioned in verse seven is a literal prison or a set of circumstances that have entrapped him. If we think of it in a general sense it can then be applied to anyone, whether in a literal prison or caught up in circumstances where it appears that there is no way out.
The Psalmist’s trouble is brought into the Lord’s presence. Quite often we feel at our wit’s end and we do not know what to do. There may be an inner circle of friends that we would be happy to share our difficulty with. But many times we don’t bring it to the Lord. We have seen so many examples of the Psalmist bringing his problems before the Lord, that we should have a greater measure of confidence in knowing that we are able to bring these matters before the Lord.
The Psalmist cries aloud, lifting up his voice before the Lord. He pours out his complaint before the Lord, setting forth the details and how he feels about his difficulty. He comes to God because he has confidence in the Lord, but he still has a sense of anxiety.
The Psalmist is weary, worn out with grief. Perhaps others will not understand, but he has confidence that the Lord will. Part of our weariness can be that others don’t understand us and maybe don’t even want to understand, so it is comforting to come before the Lord who will not dismiss our feelings. Others seek the Psalmist’s downfall; they would love to see him fail. They magnify the Psalmist’s grief by their uncaring attitudes. The Psalmist feels lonely, he looks to see if anyone is prepared to stand at his right-hand side and be there for him. He has no one other than the Lord because no one else cares for him or his life.
In his loneliness and grief his one comfort is that the Lord is his refuge. There is no point in crying to others because they are not interested, but he can cry to the Lord who is always there for him. The Lord is his place of hope, a place where he is understood. He cries out to the Lord in desperation, he feels imprisoned by his lot in life and he asks the Lord to free him. Once more the presence of the Lord has brought its own comfort to the Psalmist because he expresses his confidence that, when he is rescued and vindicated, the righteous will gather with him and they all will praise the Lord for His goodness.
Lord we were imprisoned by sin and no-one could help us. Many around us weren’t even worried about our sin unless it inconvenienced them. When we cried out for mercy You forgave our sins because of what Christ had done on the cross. We thank You that we can gather with Your redeemed people and speak of Your goodness and praise Your great name. Receive our thanks in Jesus’ name. Amen.