Do you ever feel troubled? Ever feel weak? Ever feel like the world is against you? Ever feel like you are in deep difficulties and have nowhere to turn? Take heart, you are not the first and you are not the only one there now. In Psalm 142, we get a glimpse into the life of David at a time when his fortunes are at their lowest. It is also at a time when his troubles likely feel the most unfair.
Psalm 142 happens during the time David was on the run from King Saul. If you don’t remember that account, you can read about it in 1 Samuel chapters 18-31. 1 Samuel 19:11-12 records:
11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped.
The synopsis here is that as a young man, David was very faithful to the Lord; so much so, that he was able to kill Goliath which led to Israel’s victory over the attacking Philistines. David’s courage in the Lord became legendary, and he became even more revered than King Saul. Saul’s desire to be praised and admired above everyone around him (i.e. his pride) caused him to hate David for his popularity in Israel. Saul’s envy of the favor David enjoyed from God and Israel drove him to the point of madness—to the point of murder. He wanted David dead, and he determined himself to make it happen. As a result, David had to go on the run to stay alive. After a long time of running for his life, he found himself hiding alone in a cave. He was being hunted like an animal for the success he’d been granted for his faithfulness to the Lord.
It’s one thing to have to deal with the consequences of sin, which David also had to face later in his life. It’s another thing altogether to be hated and persecuted for doing what is just and courageous before the Lord. But in this unfair and incredibly difficult time of his life, David zeroed in on his only hope – that God would hear him, have mercy on him, and rescue him. That’s what this Psalm is about.
Take notice of what we can learn from David during this intensely difficult situation:
- Notice his approach to his problems: In verse 1, David calls out audibly to the Lord. He starts with where he knows the answers reside, his heavenly father.
- Notice his inner state: Verses 2-3 shows he has a complaint (things are unfair), he’s in trouble, and he is feeling spiritually weak. He has real problems, and he knows it. You sense his desperation when reading these verses.
- Notice his outside relationships: Verses 3-4 show he has enemies who have set traps for him, he has no one with him, he has no one concerned about him, and he is convinced no one cares. David feels totally alone.
- Notice his external circumstances: Verses 3, 4 and 6 show he faces a dangerous path. He has nowhere safe to go, and his enemies are too strong for him to face on his own. His circumstances are overwhelming. Saul and his army are determined to kill him. It is far more than he has the ability to handle.
- Notice where he finds hope: Verses 1, 5, and 7 shows that he only sees hope when he looks to the Lord. He takes his complaint and troubles to the Lord. It is God who is his refuge. It is God alone who can bring freedom from the “prison” his problems have placed him into.
- Notice how he plans to respond to God’s help: Verse 7 says:
“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.”
He was looking for God’s intervention in his impossible situation, so that he could be free to praise Him. He looks forward to a future when other Godly people will be drawn together with him because of what God has done. Even in the middle of David’s most difficult circumstances, his focus is on how to honor God. This may be part of the reason God described him as “a man after his own heart”.
So back to where we started, does any of this sound familiar? Unfair persecution? Overwhelming circumstances? People out to get you? No way out? Ever been there? Maybe you’re there right now. If so, David is pointing you toward the answer. Get alone, take it to God, and start picturing the time when you can praise God for what He’s done for you!
By: Mike Wilson — Leadership Team