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The title of this psalm seems undisputed; and it therefore fixes the author and the occasion of its composition. Maschil, or an instruction, of David; a prayer when he was in the cave. 1 Samuel 22:1; 1 Samuel 24:3. Whether the cave of Adullam, or that of Engedi be intended, is not known.
Psalms 142:4 . No man cared for my soul. Hebrews nephesh is often rendered “life,” as in Genesis 2:7. Exodus 4:19. Those who sought thy life are dead. 1 Samuel 20:1. My life is yet whole in me. 2 Samuel 1:9.
The Jews having divided the psalms into five books, very judiciously divided David’s prayers in the desert, which made a greater variety in their public worship. This was a morning psalm. He could find no bosom into which he could pour out his soul, therefore in the eloquence of anguish he found language, such as God gave for the utterance of his heart.
His anguish now was accompanied with great darkness; he knew not what to do, nor whither to fly. He looked on the right hand and on the left, and saw no path, nor found any prince or friend that cared for his life.
He redoubled his cries, as the aspects of danger encreased, that God would be his refuge, a refuge far safer and stronger than rocks and caves. He prays that God would also bring him out of prison, which figuratively means, the prison of dens and caves, and of spiritual darkness and distress. What a difference between David, who had God for his salvation; and his enemies, who had the face of God against them. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 142". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26