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the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 142

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-7

Psalm 140 - 143 Troubles for the godly

These four psalms are similar, and from the title of Psalms 142:0 it appears that all four belong to the time when David was fleeing from Saul. (See introductory notes to Psalms 34:0.)

Treachery and slander are the chief weapons that David’s enemies use to attack him. These men have the poison of snakes and the cunning of hunters (140:1-5). But Yahweh is David’s God, his defender in whom he trusts for victory (6-8). David’s enemies will receive a fitting punishment if they suffer the torments that they intended to inflict upon David (9-11). The righteous will praise God when they see his justice in punishing the wicked and delivering the innocent (12-13).
When a person is the victim of slanderous talk, such as David was at the time, he is tempted to use strong words and unwise speech in return. David prays that he may be kept from such sins. He does not want to follow the evil ways of the wicked (141:1-4). If a godly person ever has cause to rebuke him, David prays that he may receive it as a blessing, as if he has been anointed with oil. But he will always remain opposed to evil (5). People will be forced to take notice when God acts, for his punishments will leave the wicked completely shattered (6-7). Meanwhile, the wicked still live, and David prays that he will be saved from the traps they have set for him (8-10).

Still pursued by his enemies, David escaped from Gath and fled to the cave of Adullam, though at the time of this psalm others have not yet joined him (1 Samuel 22:1). He is overcome by a feeling of terrible loneliness. Feeling that no one cares for him, he cries out to God (142:1-4). He prays that God will deal with his enemies and so enable him to live a normal life in freedom and security again (5-7).

The frightening thought occurs to David that God might be using the enemy to punish him for his sins. He knows that he, like others, is a sinner, and there is no way of escaping punishment if God decides to act. He therefore casts himself entirely on the mercy of God for forgiveness and deliverance (143:1-2). David tells God about his troubles, how he has been pursued and is forced to live in darkness in the cave (3-4). He thinks of God’s mighty acts in the past and prays that God will save him again (5-6). He fears the hopelessness of those who die without God. He longs for a greater experience of God (7-8). He prays that God, having rescued him, will instruct and guide him in the future (9-12).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Psalms 142". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/psalms-142.html. 2005.
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