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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 142

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.

The psalm commemorates a great deliverance. The impressions made by recent dangers still agitate the author’s soul. The memory of the wily artifice and malice of enemies, among whom he stood alone without a friend or advocate, Psalms 142:4 his imprisonment, Psalms 142:7 his inability to escape or to defend himself the long days and nights during which his life was in suspense are still present as the darkening shadows of a frightful dream. The psalm properly dates immediately after David’s escape from Gath to the cave. 1 Samuel 22:1. See note on title, and compare Psalms 34, 56 .TITLE: For Maschil, see note on title, Psalms 32:0.

A prayer A tephillah, or prayer-song, as distinct from a praise-song, or tehillah, as Psalms 145:0, title, where see note.

When he was in the cave One other psalm (Psalms 57:0) is also thus dated by the title. As that refers to the cave of Engedi, (see note there,) so does this to the cave of Adullam. See the notes. The cave to which tradition has given this name is about six miles southeast from Bethlehem, in the wild gorge of the Wady Urtas, on the eastern slope of the mountains of Judah. It is made up of a perfect labyrinth of apartments, so numerous and complicated that it has never been explored. Being in the vicinity of Bethlehem, David must have become considerably familiar with portions of its interior arrangement in his earlier life. Here his father’s family came to him, and also four hundred retainers. 1 Samuel 22:1-2. The cave is to this day the wonder and terror of travellers and natives. David afterward occupied it as a “stronghold,” or encampment, in his war with the Philistines, while the latter garrisoned Bethlehem. 2 Samuel 23:13-14

Verse 1

1. I cried I made an outcry. The repetitions denote intensity. With my voice, shows that it was not a figure for inward fervour, but a vocal, earnest call.

Supplication Literally, I made my earnest cry for mercy.

Verse 2

2. I poured out my complaint before him The idea of profuseness, unreservedness, is given I emptied out my complaint. Nothing was kept back. So, in the next line, I showed… him my trouble. This was done “before him” literally, before his face. In the sacrificial coloring of these expressions, especially the emphatic לפנין , before his face, there is a drawing nigh to God answerable to the New Testament “coming boldly to the throne of grace,” a “drawing near” to the “holy of holies.” Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:22. This earnest pouring out of complaint and prayer for mercy, before the face of God, takes also the Levitical idea of a “libation,” or “drink-offering,” poured freely upon the sacrifice of the altar, to give it flavour and acceptance. Leviticus 4:7, etc. See Isaiah 57:6

Verse 3

3. Overwhelmed Or, fainted. He was completely enveloped in doubt, anxiety, apprehension, so that he was unable to judge and decide what to do, as Psalms 107:5; Jonah 2:7.

Then thou knewest my path God knew and comprehended his situation, and kindly chose his path, and made a way for his escape. Job 23:10; Psalms 31:7-8.

In the way wherein I walked In my daily, or ordinary, manner of life. Every movement was watched and criticised for evil.

Privily laid a snare Treacherously placed in his path inducements to wrong, in the hope that he might fall into their “snare.”

Verse 4

4. On my right hand The place of an advocate or friend. See on Psalms 109:6. No man cared for my soul. The word rendered “cared” means to inquire after, to seek. The idea is, no man felt interest enough for my welfare to inquire into the justice of my cause or to seek my good. The verb look is in Hiphil imperative, and the verse should be read: “Look on the right hand and see! there is none recognising me; refuge has perished from me; there is none inquiring for my soul.” His distresses failed to awaken for him a friend capable of efficiently helping him.

Verse 5

5. I cried unto thee Jehovah is now his only, but his sufficient refuge. The great straits of his condition cause his faith to settle more intensely in God, and his deliverance to appear more signally divine.

Verse 7

7. Bring my soul out of prison There is no necessity for understanding מסגר , ( masger,) prison, in a figurative sense for affliction, distress, and making Psalms 25:17; Psalms 143:11, parallels. The word never takes that sense, but either signifies prison, jail, place of confinement, (as Isaiah 24:22; Isaiah 42:7,) or a smith, one that works in iron. We have already seen that the Philistines had seized, arrested David, (see note on title of Psalms 56:0,) and the history shows that he was detained by force when he would have escaped. 1 Samuel 21:10-15. Indeed, his escape was due solely to the providence of God, as Psalms 34, 56 fully declare.

The righteous shall compass me about David is not alone. He belongs to the spiritual “commonwealth of Israel,” the universal Church. The divine treatment of him will set forth a principle which shall affect all who trust in God. With him, therefore, the true-hearted Church will sympathize, and upon his deliverance they will surround him with joyful gratulations; or, giving the word the sense of crowning, triumph, as in Proverbs 14:18, they shall deck themselves as with crowns they shall triumph.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 142". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-142.html. 1874-1909.
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