David Prayed
When He Was in the Cave of Adullam

Psalm 142: 1-7


A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.

DIG: What is the tone of this lament? How free is David to express his true feelings? What’s painful about his immediate circumstances? Is this an exaggeration? What does David mean buy portion (see Numbers 18:20)? Why will the righteous gather around him? What do the righteous tend to do when the chips are down (Job 36:8-9)?

REFLECT: Are there complaints you keep from God? Feelings you consider inappropriate to bring up? Do you think He doesn’t know them already? Do you have someone you can talk to about them? Is the LORD your portion? Or are you seeking an earthly inheritance? Both? Where do you want to be?

David speaks of the great distress in which he found himself. The strain of being hated and hunted is almost too much, and faith is being stretched to its limits. But faith is undefeated, and in the final words it is at last joined by hope.93

The Complaint: I cry aloud to ADONAI; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before Him my complaint; before Him I tell my trouble. David’s adversity and prayers had brought him to the point of total exhaustion. However, even in this state of spiritual depression, he relied on YHVH, who knew everything he was going through. When my spirit is overwhelmed within me, it is You who knew my path . . . the way out of his present adversity. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me. Look and see, there is no one at my right hand to defend me; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life (Psalm 142:1-4). Mercifully again, ADONAI knows and cares. In the darkness of the cave, the LORD answered abundantly, sending David’s brothers and all his father’s house to join him. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him (First Samuel 22:1-2). They would become the nucleus of his Kingdom.This low ebb in his fortunes, therefore, proved in fact to be a turning point.

The Prayer: Although verses 6 and 7 are made up almost entirely from phrases that are found elsewhere in the Psalms, they do not read like an artificial compilation, but have an intensity that is unmistakable. I cry to You, ADONAI; I say: You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. In his desperate situation, likened to a prison, he petitioned the LORD to rescue him from his strong enemies. Set me free from my prison, so that I may praise Your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me (Psalm 142:5-7). The psalm ends on a high note, where faith, joined now by hope, looks to the future. He looked forward to bringing a thank-offering at the time of public worship, when he would be a free man once again. He knew he would be the king at some future time. So even in his darkest hour, this vision was renewed.94

 

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