The Cave (Psalm 142)

Posted on 05th February 2021 under The Rectory Bulletin | Psalms


A Maskil of David, When He Was in the Cave. A Prayer.

This Psalm, like Psalm 57, was written when David was in a cave which begs the question: what on earth was he doing there?

These psalms were composed in the early part of David’s life, whilst he was on the run. He had been part of King Saul’s army and had proved to be a talented commander. The ditty sung in Israel at that time was “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands” which enraged the king. Saul’s response was easy to predict:

… Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on. (1 Samuel 18:8-9).

David ended up having to flee the king’s court, and ended up alone. He had been given food by Ahimelech, and Saul responded by killing the priest. He sought refuge in Gath, but this proved dangerous so once more David went into the wilderness and lived in a cave.

This psalm speaks to the despair of being alone and of being in trouble. Abandoned, David has been thrown onto the mercy of God and he pours out his heart before him. He realises that God alone can be his refuge and his hope, and so the psalm ends on a word of hope. Here indeed is a pattern of prayer for those who feel forsaken.

With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.

I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!
In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.

I cry to you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

 ~ Psalm 142 ~

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