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David sheweth that, in his trouble, all his comfort was in prayer unto God.
Maschil of David; A prayer when he was in the cave.
Title. לדוד משׂכיל maskiil ledavid.— This psalm was composed by David when he was in that miserable situation in the cave of Adullam, 1 Samuel 22:0 or that of Engedi, 1 Samuel 24:0. He teaches us, by his own example, to repose ourselves wholly upon God, amid the greatest difficulties. The psalm consists of three parts; the first describes to us the religious turn of his mind, in all the various distresses to which he was subject, and the most threatening evils which encompassed him. He would pour forth his supplications before God, Psalms 142:1-19.142.2. The second part shews the greatness of his danger, and the secret hope he had in that God, who saw his situation, and whom he had chosen for his portion; Psalms 142:3-19.142.5. The last part contains his earnest supplications to God to extricate him out of the cave, and give him and his friends fresh occasion for gratitude and praise.
Psalms 142:1-19.142.2. I cried unto the Lord— I will cry; and so the following verbs would be rendered more properly in the future.
Psalms 142:3-19.142.4. When my spirit, &c.— Now, when my spirit is overwhelmed within me, yet thou knowest my path. "Though the lowness of my spirits renders me incapable of providing for my own escape; yet thou art able to conduct me by the right path." Here he is supposed to make an effort for escaping. He finds he is way-laid in the path that he had designed to take: he looks on the right hand (for I consider the verbs as infinitive) but does not see the persons with whom he had concerted his escape. He despairs of getting off. Mudge. The reader will observe the beautiful brevity of the sentences in the 4th verse. Dr. Chandler renders the last clause, There is no one that concerns himself for my life. The Psalmist complains, and prays that God would regard it with compassion, that no one consulted his safety, or took any care to preserve his life. For נפשׁי napshi, should be rendered in this and many other places, my life, and not my soul.
Psalms 142:5-19.142.7. I cried unto thee, O Lord, &c.— He applies himself to God to rescue him out of this prison, the cave wherein he was concealed. I have said, &c. "I have solemnly devoted myself to thee, as my God and only refuge; hearken therefore, &c." A way of speaking very common in the psalms. Mudge.
Psalms 142:7. The righteous shall encompass me, &c.—
From me the righteous shall their hopes confirm, When I the object of thy care appear. FENWICK.
Dr. Chandler renders it, The righteous will crown thee with praises on my account, when thou hast rewarded me; and the sense, according to him, is, that when good men should see the kindness of God in the favours bestowed on the Psalmist, they would bring their offerings of thanksgiving, and encompass his altar with their praises. Every part of this psalm shews the propriety of the inscription or title. He expressly mentions his being in a place where he was entirely shut up; where he saw no possible method of escaping, as having no friends who dared to own him and appear for his deliverance, and when every one seemed to desert him, and to have abandoned all care of his safety and life. This he pathetically describes, and in such terms as cannot fail to move the tender affections of every one who considers them. On the first sense of his danger, shut up in a cave, surrounded by three thousand chosen soldiers, closely observed by a watchful enemy, and one that would spare no art or pains to apprehend him, he seems almost to have despaired of himself; declares that his spirit was quite overwhelmed with the greatness of his distress; till at length, recollecting his principles and the promises which God had made him, he earnestly supplicates the protection of God, and assures himself that he should still praise God for his deliverance, and that good men should share his joy, and encompass the altar of God with thanksgiving for the mercy which he had shewn him.
REFLECTIONS.—No place or time is unseasonable for prayer. When Engedi, or Adullam was his oratory, David still found sweet communion with God, threatening as his danger seemed. We have,
1. His complaints, which out of the fulness of his heart he poured forth before the Lord. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and shewed before him my trouble, to which from Saul his bloody persecutor he was exposed. It was enough to spread it before the Lord, whose tender mercies knew how to pity him, and his power to relieve him. Note; They who have a God of all grace to fly to, may safely leave in his hand all their troubles.
2. He appeals to God for his own simplicity. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path: when reduced to the deepest distress, I still fled to no wrong methods to extricate myself. In the way wherein I walked, have they privily laid a snare for me, seeking to entrap me every step I take. Note; When our consciences condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God.
3. He was without help from man. His friends grew shy and were ashamed to own him; and, abandoned as it were to ruin, refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. Thus was Jesus forsaken, rejected, denied, when alone he trod the wine-press of the wrath of God.
4. When human help failed him, still God was his refuge, and portion in the land of the living, and to him he directed his prayer: and if God be our refuge, we need fear no danger; if he be our portion, we need wish for nothing more in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry, for I am brought very low, under affliction and distress: deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I, and I must without divine help be utterly swallowed up by them. Bring my soul out of prison, out of my straits and difficulties; that I may praise thy name. The righteous shall compass me about, admiring the mercy shown in his deliverance, and joining with him in his praises; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me; saving him from his enemies, fixing him on the throne, and fulfilling all the desires of his heart. Note; (1.) We cannot be brought so low, but God can help us; and, though fettered in the bonds of corruption or temptation, he can open our prison-doors, and will, if we persevere in crying to him. Let us never despair. (2.) The mercies that our brethren enjoy should excite our praises, as members of the same body.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 142". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent