New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 142:1

A contemplation by David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer-
David was sensitive to words, and here recalls and edits the words he remembers praying in the cave. We recall that there he had the opportunity to kill Saul, but didn't. See on Ps. 143:1.

I cry with my voice to Yahweh, with my voice I ask Yahweh for mercy-
We assume it was imperative for David in the cave to keep quiet. But in his heart he had cried loudly to God "for mercy". He felt Saul could have found him and murdered him at any time; he had no human escape, apart from to trust in Yahweh.

Psa 142:2

I pour out my complaint before Him-
Literally, 'I gush out my babbling'. He was so frightened and emotionally broken down that his spirit or mind was overwhelmed (:3). And yet there in the cave he felt he was before Yahweh, in His very presence.

I tell Him my troubles-
Whilst God knows our exact position in life, it is part of childlike relationship with Him to tell Him our troubles. There in the cave with no human way of escape, David did just this.

Psa 142:3

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me-
I noted on :2 how David felt that 'I gush out my babbling' to God. He was so frightened and emotionally broken down that his spirit or mind was overwhelmed.

You knew my path-
Although this Psalm is David's prayer in the cave, it has clearly been edited by David afterwards. He felt there was no path out of his problem, for the cave had no exit. But God knew a path for him, as he now can later reflect. And we have all been in such situations.

In the way in which I walk, they have hidden a snare for me-
The implication is that the snares laid would have meant going astray from God's precepts. The initial reference may have been to Saul laying snares for David through getting him to marry his daughters and thereby seeking to kill him; and in Ps. 119:110 David is proud he has not fallen into those snares. But that Psalm finishes with David saying bluntly that he has "gone astray" (Ps. 119:176), as if to say that earlier  he had far overrated his own obedience to God's law.

Psa 142:4

Look on my right hand and see; for there is no one who is concerned for me. Refuge has fled from me, no one cares for my soul-
In the cave, David did have some of his men with him. But he feels, as he looks to the men on his right hand [the place of supposed help] that they were with him from their own agenda, not because they were really concerned for him or could "deliver" him (s.w. "concerned"). The cave had been his refuge, but that refuge was now his trap; or so it seemed. 

Psa 142:5

I cried to You, Yahweh. I said, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living-
He had made the cave his refuge, and it had become his trap. But he doesn't give up hope that God can still be his ultimate refuge.

Psa 142:6

Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than me-
David knew that he and his men couldn't fight their way out of the cave, and likely suspected his men would hand him over to Saul in return for their own lives being spared. He was indeed in desperate need, snared in that cave, with the only way out blocked by Saul and his men. That he didn't give up hope but begged God to somehow deliver him is a fair indication of his great faith. It was surely motivated by his respect for God's prophetic word, that somehow, some day, this too would pass and he would be king and Saul would be removed.

Psa 142:7

Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks to Your name. The righteous will surround me, for You will be good to me-
The cave had become a prison for David. He begs for deliverance by some miracle, so that he could praise God for it; and instead of being surrounded by men of very doubtful loyalty (see on :4), he believed the prophetic word that one day he would be king, surrounded in government by "the righteous". His faith that he would be rescued from such a dead end, no exit situation is remarkable.

 Most of the Psalms have clear reference to the exiles, and being brought out of a hopeless position in prison is an image used by the restoration prophets. And David's feelings likewise have ultimate application to the Lord Jesus. As He hung in the darkness of the cross, He too was depressed by the weight of His mental burden, a burden so great it must have pushed His brain to maximum neurological capacity. The spirit of the crucified Christ is here; His hope that "the righteous shall compass me about" is used in the famous crucifixion Psalm of Ps. 22:22. The Lord Jesus poured out His soul unto death; "he was taken away by distress" (Is. 53:12,8 AVmg.) suggests that it was the mental crisis in the brain of the Lord on the cross which resulted in His death. This is why Pilate marvelled that He died so quickly. It is evident from this that the physical process of crucifixion did not kill the Lord, but rather the heart burst (both figurative and literal) which it brought upon Him. Do we not sense that striving in our minds as we fellowship His sufferings? Surely we do, but from a great distance.