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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 142

Verses 1-7

The Hundred and Forty-second Psalm

Psalms 142:0

I. Life and liberty are sweet but we may pay too dear a price even for the sweetest things. David is now at liberty; he has escaped out of the prison-house of Gath; but he has made his escape and obtained his liberty at much too great a price. For years past the name of Gath had been the proudest name that David's flatterers could speak in his willing ears. But after his disgraceful escape from that city to David's old age, it brought a cloud to his brow and a blush to his cheek to hear the name of Gath. But then it is out of such degradation and shame that weak and evil men rise on stepping-stones of their own transgressions to true honour and wisdom, to stable godliness and exercised virtue. And no man will be dishonoured or degraded who speaks to himself about himself as David spake to himself as he climbed to his mountain cave in Adullam: 'What time I am again afraid I will trust in the Most High.... In God I will put my trust in my next trouble; I will not fear again what flesh shall do to me, for I have learned that Thou tellest my wanderings, that Thou puttest my tears into Thy bottle, and that my name is in Thy book.'

II. The prophet Gad puts a whole volume into two verses in connexion with David's life. 'David,' he says, 'escaped from Gath and came to the cave of Adullam; when his brethren and his father's house heard of it they went thither down to him, and every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them; and there were with him about four hundred men'.

III. 'I will take sentry myself to-night,' said David to his captains one Sabbath evening after Gad and Abiathar had sanctified the day, and blessed with an evening blessing the four hundred; 'May God give His sleep to every hammock, for I will be sentinel myself to-night'. Wrapping around him the cloak that Michal had worked for him in happier days, and taking in his hand Goliath's sword, David paced the rocky shelves and poured out his full heart to God all that Sabbath night. We are thankful for this dramatic 142nd Psalm; but it would have been a grand piece of devotional literature, aye of national history, had we had all that David said to God that sentinel night; but what he did say was not fitted or intended for any human ear. As Hezekiah showed to God the insulting letter, so David showed Him all the insults and injuries he had suffered at the hands of Saul, and no doubt it was at such moments that revenge and retaliation gave way to godly sorrow and pity, till David was able to forget his trouble and forgive his enemy.

IV. Calmed and quieted with his midnight prayer under the open heaven, the sentry halted on his scabbard, and mused and meditated on all the marvellous way the Lord had led him from the pastures of Bethlehem up to the cave of Adullam. And if at any time he felt the banishment of Adullam and he had a thousand thoughts during those lonely hours he soon recollected who held the keys; and though the door had been opened he would not have escaped. 'Bring my soul out of prison' was his last word to God, as the day broke in the east, 'that I may praise Thy name; the righteous shall compass me about; for Thou shalt deal bountifully with me'. And how well was that hope fulfilled to David, how bountifully did God deal with David, and how hath the righteous compassed David about, as rapt listeners compass round the sweetest music, as rejoicing fellow-worshippers compass round a miracle of Divine grace, so in all ages will the righteous compass David about.

Alexander Whyte.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 142". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/psalms-142.html. 1910.