Psalm 142


In this psalm, David is clearly in a lot of distress and so he cries out to God to help him and protect him from his enemies. He also asks God to bring judgement upon those who were persecuting him.


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

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this is a prayer of David, a ‘maskil’. No one really knows what the word maskil means, some believe it’s a musical term or a literary term. The word is used thirteen times throughout the Psalms, Psalm 32 / Psalm 42 / Psalm 44 / Psalm 45 / Psalm 52 / Psalm 53 / Psalm 54 / Psalm 55 / Psalm 74 / Psalm 78 / Psalm 88 / Psalm 89 / Psalm 142. The word is also used in Amos 5:13.

The cave mentioned here is possibly the Adullam cave, 1 Samuel 22:1, or the caves of En Gedi, 1 Samuel 24:1. Psalms 138-145 are all accredited to David.

‘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, 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.’ Psalm 142:1-7

David begins by crying out to the LORD, Psalm 3:4, and he raises his voice in asking for mercy, Psalm 30:8. In other words, he desires not only God to hear him but also to be in the presence of God.

He wasn’t concerned about making known his complaints to the Lord because he knows God knows him and what he was going through because of his enemies. He handed all of his worries and anxieties over to God, Philippians 4:6 / 1 Peter 5:7.

When David’s spirit grew faint, that is, when he was at his lowest, he was confident that God would watch over his ways. Even though he didn’t know where the snares were, which had been set by his enemies, he was confident that God knew where they were and so would guide his steps and protect him from those snares.

We can almost feel the desperation of David here, as he feels that there is no one at his right hand, he has no refuge and there is no one was concerned about him.

These are words of a man who is feeling lonely and abandoned, hence, why he cries out to the LORD for help. It’s possible that God answered his prayer here when his brothers join him in the cave, 1 Samuel 22:1-2.

When David was feeling lonely, he felt that he had no refuge, however, when he cries out to the LORD, he knows that God Himself is his refuge, that is, his place of safety and security. It’s the Lord who is his portion in the land of the living and he was confident that the LORD would maintain his inheritance in the land.

David is clearly in a desperate situation and asks God to rescue him from his enemies because they’re simply too strong for him to fight on his own. In other words, he knew its better to rely on God’s strength to defeat his enemies rather than relying on his own strength to defeat them.

The prison David speaks of here, is not literal, it’s a figure of speech which speaks of being constrained, Psalm 107:10 / Isaiah 42:7. He wants God to set him free so that He can praise God for doing so. He wants God to set him free so that he could be surrounded by his righteous friends, and in turn, they would see the goodness in him.

In other words, when the righteous realise that the wicked leaders were leading them in the wrong direction, then they would accept the righteous leadership of David, 1 Samuel 22:1-2.


David found himself in a desperate situation and therefore, he sought to be among like-minded people, where he could be encouraged.

As Christians, it’s really important to spend more time with our brethren, especially, because of all the evil which surrounds us in the world, Galatians 6:9-10 / Ephesians 4:28 / 1 Timothy 6:18.

God created us to be social beings, and to help us live the kind of lives He wants us to live He blessed us with the church, that is fellow believers, Acts 13:13 / Acts 19:29 / Philippians 4:3.

The more time we spend with our brethren the less time we’ll have to think about sin or getting involved in the sinfulness of the world, 1 John 2:15.

When we spend more time outside of worship times, we can encourage each other, continue to love each other and help each other in our good deeds, Hebrews 10:24-25.

In short, when we spend more time together as a church, we can listen to each other’s struggles and learn from others who have struggled in their faith.

Go To Psalm 143


"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."