Psalms 142


The psalmist, in great distress and difficulty, calls upon

God, 1-7.


The title says, "An Instruction of David," or a Psalm of David

giving instruction; "A Prayer when he was in the cave."

David was twice in great peril in caves. 1. At the cave of

Adullam, when he fled from Achish, king of Gath, 1Sa 22:1. 2.

When he was in the cave of En-gedi, where he had taken refuge from

the pursuit of Saul; and the latter, without knowing that David

was in it, had gone into it on some necessary occasion,

1Sa 24:1-3. If the inscription can be depended on, the

cave of En-gedi is the most likely of the two, for the scene

laid here. But were there doubts concerning the legitimacy of the

title, I should refer the Psalm to the state of the captives in

Babylon, to which a great part of the Psalms refer. Bishop Horsley

calls it "A Prayer of the Messiah taken and deserted." It may be

so: but where is the evidence, except in the conjectural system of


Verse 1. I cried unto the Lord] See on the first verse of the

preceding Psalm.

Verse 3. Then thou knewest my path.] When Saul and his army were

about the cave in which I was hidden, thou knewest my path-that I

had then no way of escape but by miracle: but thou didst not

permit them to know that I was wholly in their power.

Verse 4. There was no man, that would know me] This has been

applied to the time in which our Lord was deserted by his

disciples. As to the case of David in the cave of En-gedi, he had

no refuge: for what were the handful of men that were with him to

Saul and his army?

Verse 5. Thou art my refuge] Even in these most disastrous

circumstances, I will put my trust in thee.

Verse 6. I am brought very low] Never was I so near total ruin


Deliver me from my persecutors] They are now in full possession

of the only means of my escape.

They are stronger than I.] What am I and my men against this

well-appointed armed multitude, with their king at their head.

Verse 7. Bring my soul out of prison] Bring naphshi, my

life, out of this cave in which it is now imprisoned; Saul and

his men being in possession of the entrance.

The righteous shall compass me about] yachtiru, they

shall crown me; perhaps meaning that the pious Jews, on the

death of Saul, would cheerfully join together to make him king,

being convinced that God, by his bountiful dealings with him,

intended that it should be so. The old Psalter, which is imperfect

from the twenty-first verse of Psalm cxix. to the end of Psalm

cxli., concludes this Psalm thus: "Lede my saule oute of

corruption of my body; that corrupcion is bodely pyne, in whilk my

saule is anguyst; after that in Godes house, sal al be louyng

(praising) of the."


The substance of this Psalm is the earnest prayer of the

psalmist that he might be delivered from the danger he was in.

The parts are,

I. An exordium, in which he

1. Shows what he did in his trouble; took himself to prayer,

Ps 142:1, 2.

2. Then his consternation and anxiety of mind, which arose from

the malice and craft of his enemies, and want of help from his

friends, Ps 142:3, 4.

II. His address and petition to God, Ps 142:5-7. 1. The two

first verses show the psalmist's intention. "I cried unto the

Lord," &c. 2. "I poured out my supplication," &c.

This he amplifies,-

1. From his vehemence: "I cried, I supplicated."

2. From the object: "Unto the Lord." I invoked him, and no


3. From the instrument: "With my voice."

4. From his humility in prayer. It was a supplication.

5. From his free and full confession: "I poured out," &c.

6. From his sincerity and confidence in God.

The reason was:-

1. This I did "when my spirit was overwhelmed," &c. There being

no sufficiency in me, I betook myself to the all-sufficient God.

2. "For thou knowest my path," &c. My actions and intentions.

The craft and subtlety of his enemies, especially Saul.

1. "In the way wherein I walked," &c. My vocation.

2. "Have they privily laid," &c. Saul gave him his daughter

Michal to be a snare to him; and a dowry he must have of a

hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that David might fall by

their hands.

His destitution in the time of trouble.

1. "I looked on my right hand," &c. But no friend was near:

"There was no man," &c. The miserable have few friends.

2. "Refuge failed me," &c. I had no place of safety.

3. "No man cared," &c. Regarded my life, or cared if I perished.

II. The psalmist, having no human help, calls upon God.

1. "Thou art my refuge," &c. My hiding-place.

2. "Thou art my portion," &c. While I live in this world.

Then he sends up his prayer, fortified by a double argument.

1. From the lamentable condition he was brought into: "I was

brought low," &c.

2. From the malice and power of his enemies: "Deliver me," &c.

Again he renews his prayer, and presses it from the final cause:

"Bring my soul," &c.

Upon which follow two effects:-

1. His gratitude: "That I may praise thy name."

2. That of others: "The righteous shall compass me," &c. Come

unto me.

3. The reason for this: "For thou shalt deal bountifully with

me." Bestow favours upon me, having delivered me from my former

miseries; which men seeing, who are commonly the friends of

prosperity, will magnify and resort to me.

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