A Davidic Maskil. When he was in the cave. A prayer.
1 I cry aloud to the Lord; I plead aloud to the Lord for mercy. 2 I pour out my complaint before Him; I reveal my trouble to Him. 3 Although my spirit is weak within me, You know my way. Along this path I travel they have hidden a trap for me. 4 Look to the right and see: no one stands up for me; there is no refuge for me; no one cares about me. 5 I cry to You, Lord; I say, “You are my shelter, my portion in the land of the living.” 6 Listen to my cry, for I am very weak. Rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. 7 Free me from prison so that I can praise Your name. The righteous will gather around me because You deal generously with me (Psalm 142:1-7 HCSB).
Since the coronavirus pandemic, mental health issues, suicide, and substance abuse have increased. We live in uncertain times, and God has given us Scripture to help us through them. One of many examples is Psalm 142, a prayer of lament that teaches us how to pray during times of overwhelming distress.
David, a shepherd boy from Bethlehem, became a national hero when he defeated the Philistine giant Goliath with a sling, stone, and trust in God. After his victory, David entered into King Saul’s service permanently, and the king appointed him as a commander of the troops. David was highly successful in battle and beloved by the people. When the troops returned home after David’s victory over Goliath, the women from the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul, singing and dancing with tambourines and cymbals.
As they celebrated, the women sang: Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands (1 Sam. 18:7).
The song made Saul angry, and he became jealous of David’s popularity. Saul’s animosity toward David grew, and he sought to kill him. Fearing for his life, David fled from Saul.
God had anointed David to be the next king of Israel, but now he lived like a fugitive. Saul kept pursuing him as David ran from place to place and hid in mountains and caves. On one occasion, David came to a cave and hid from Saul and his army. In his distress, David prayed the prayer that we find in Psalm 142. He prayed aloud and talked to God about his troubles (Psalm 142:1-2). He feared that Saul had hidden a trap in his way but was comforted to know that God knew the path he was on (v. 3). David expressed his pain of feeling alone and that no one cared what happened to him (v. 4). David prayed for rescue from Saul and his army, who outnumbered him and were much stronger. David felt weak, but his weakness put him in a position to receive God’s strength (v. 6, see also: 2 Cor. 12:10). David felt imprisoned and prayed for God to set him free so he could praise Him. In the prayer’s conclusion, David looked confidently to the day when the people of God would gather around him and rejoice at his deliverance (v. 7).
God heard David’s prayer and answered it. Although he left the cave, David’s deliverance from Saul’s persecution would not come until much later. Saul continued to hunt him down, but God did not hand David over to the king (1 Samuel 23:14). Meanwhile, David, who now had an army of six hundred men, defeated the Philistines and the Amalekites. David could have taken Saul’s life on two occasions, but he refused to kill the Lord’s anointed king and left the outcome to God. (1 Samuel 24:1-8; 26:1-11).
When the Philistines defeated Israel at Mount Gilboa, Saul was badly wounded, and three of his sons died in battle. Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me before the Philistines torture me.” But the armor-bearer was afraid and would not kill him. Saul then took his sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell on his sword and died with him (1 Samuel 31:3-6). Chosen by God Himself, David became king of Israel.
David was 30 years old when he began his reign; he reigned 40 years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned 33 years over all Israel and Judah (2 Sam. 5:4-5).
David was Israel’s greatest king, an ancestor of Jesus Christ, and a talented musician and poet. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David wrote about the pain he experienced while hiding in the cave. And now, three thousand years later, we are being encouraged by his words, which remind us that God can use our difficult times for good.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the power of prayer and Scripture to calm our fears, quiet our minds, and empower us to persevere. I pray for those in distress that You draw them close to Jesus and give them peace. During these uncertain times, I am thankful for the promise of Your guidance in the future. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Authored by Susan Ferguson
Susan Ferguson is a freelance Christian writer.
Copyright 2022 Susan Ferguson
Copyright 2022 Non-Exclusive Reprint – The Oklahoma Post
Posted with Permission from Author.
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