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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 142

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2944. B.C. 1060.

We learn from the title of this Psalm that it was a prayer of David when he was in the cave, most probably the cave of Adullam, whither he fled when he was in danger, both from Saul and from the Philistines, 1 Samuel 22:1 . He complains of finding no help in his straits, dangers, and troubles, Psalms 142:1-4 . He cries unto God in prayer, and comforts himself in him, Psalms 142:5-7 .

Verses 1-2

Psalms 142:1-2. I cried unto the Lord, &c. Hebrew, אזעק , I will cry unto the Lord The words express the resolution he formed, when all human help failed, to have recourse again, as he often had had before, unto God in prayer, whom he had repeatedly made his refuge and strength, and found to be his present help in trouble. Unto the Lord did I make, &c. Rather, will I make my supplication: I poured out, I will pour out my complaint Namely, fully, fervently, and confidently. All these verses are in the future tense. “The state of David, in the cave of Adullam, was a state of utter destitution. Persecuted by his own countrymen, dismissed by Achish, and not yet joined by his own relations, or any other attendants, he took refuge in the cave, and was there alone. But in that disconsolate, and seemingly desperate situation, he desponded not. He had a friend in heaven into whose bosom he poured forth his complaint, and told him the sad story of his trouble and distress. When danger besetteth us around, and fear is on every side, let us follow the example of David, and that of a greater than David, who, when Jews and Gentiles conspired against him, and he was left all alone in the garden and on the cross, gave himself unto prayer.” Horne.

Verse 3

Psalms 142:3. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me And ready to sink under the burden of grief and fear: when I was quite at a loss what steps to take, and almost ready to despair; then thou knewest my path That is, practically, so as to direct me what way I should take, in order that I might escape Saul and his men: or, thou knowest my sincerity and innocence, the straight path in which I have walked, and that I am not such a one as my persecutors represent me. And it was, and is, a comfort to me, that thou knewest this, and also, that thou knewest the danger that I was, and am, in, and how; in the way wherein I walked Suspecting no danger; they have privily laid a snare for me To entrap me. Saul gave Michal his daughter to David, on purpose that she might be a snare to him, 1 Samuel 18:21. And as he complains, every thing that was done to, or respecting him, was done with a design to insnare and destroy him. Yet, in the midst of all, he knew he was under the eye and guardian care of his all-wise and almighty Friend: in him he trusted, and this was his support and comfort. And “such should be, at all times, the confidence of believers in the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of God, even when human prudence has done its utmost and is at its wit’s end.”

Verse 4

Psalms 142:4. I looked on my right hand, &c. The place where the patron, or assistant used to stand; but there was no man Namely, in Saul’s court or camp: none of my former relations, friends or acquaintance; that would know me Own me, or show any respect or kindness to me. The verb, in the first clause of the verse, being in the imperative; look on my right hand, &c. Dr. Horne considers the words as a request to God to look on his destitute condition, and to pity and relieve him; but Bishop Patrick views them as a kind of soliloquy, and explains them thus, “Look about thee, O my soul, and see if thou canst spy any hope of relief from thy best and most powerful friends: there are none of them that dare own thee; nor do I know whither to flee for safety.” Refuge failed, or rather, faileth me There is no patron on earth to whom I can commit my cause, nor any help in man for me. No man cared, rather careth, for my soul Or, for my life, namely, to preserve it: but they all conspire to take it away.

Verse 5

Psalms 142:5. I cried, rather I cry, unto thee, O Lord Thou knowest me and carest for me, when no one else will, and wilt not fail me nor forsake me when men do. Thou art my refuge and my portion Thou only art both my refuge to defend me from all evil, and my portion to supply me with all the good which I need and desire; in the land of the living Even in this life, wherein I doubt not to see thy goodness, and more especially in the life to come. There is enough in God to answer all the necessities of this present time; we live in a world of dangers and wants, but what danger need we fear, if God is our refuge; and what wants, if he be our portion? Heaven, which alone deserves to be called the land of the living, will be to all believers both a refuge and a portion.

Verses 6-7

Psalms 142:6-7. Attend unto my cry, &c. O let my importunate cry prevail for some relief; which will come most seasonably in this exceeding great necessity; for I am brought very low And if thou do not help me I shall quite sink. Deliver me from my persecutors Either tie their hands, or turn their hearts; break their power, or blast their projects; restrain them, or rescue me. For they are stronger than I And it will be to thine honour to take part with the weakest. Deliver me from them, or I shall be ruined by them; for I am not yet myself a match for them. Bring my soul out of prison Not only bring me safe out of this cave, but bring me out of all my perplexities, and set me at perfect liberty; that I may praise thy name Not that I may enjoy myself and my friends, and live at ease; no, nor that I may defend my country: but that I may praise, glorify, and serve thee; the end this, which we ought to have in view in all our prayers for deliverance out of trouble, or for any other blessing. The righteous shall compass me about Shall flock to me from all parts, partly to see such a miracle of the divine power and mercy; and partly to rejoice and bless God with me and for me, and for all the benefits which they expect from my government. Observe reader, “this prayer of David was heard and answered; he was delivered from his persecutors, enlarged from his distress, exalted to the throne, and joined by all the tribes of Israel.” And let not us fear, though we be brought very low, and our persecutors, the world, the flesh, and the devil, be too strong for us; but God will deliver us, if we cry earnestly to him, from the bondage of sin and all our enemies, and redeem us from the prison of the grave, that we may join the great assembly before the throne, and there praise him for ever. Horne.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 142". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-142.html. 1857.
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