Psalm 142:1
Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave. I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.
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(1) I cried . . .—See Psalm 3:4, &c.

Psalm 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.

142:1-7 David's comfort in prayer. - There can be no situation so distressing or dangerous, in which faith will not get comfort from God by prayer. We are apt to show our troubles too much to ourselves, poring upon them, which does us no service; whereas, by showing them to God, we might cast the cares upon him who careth for us, and thereby ease ourselves. Nor should we allow any complaint to ourselves or others, which we cannot make to God. When our spirits are overwhelmed by distress, and filled with discouragement; when we see snares laid for us on every side, while we walk in his way, we may reflect with comfort that the Lord knoweth our path. Those who in sincerity take the Lord for their God, find him all-sufficient, as a Refuge, and as a Portion: every thing else is a refuge of lies, and a portion of no value. In this situation David prayed earnestly to God. We may apply it spiritually; the souls of believers are often straitened by doubts and fears. And it is then their duty and interest to beg of God to set them at liberty, that they may run the way of his commandments. Thus the Lord delivered David from his powerful persecutors, and dealt bountifully with him. Thus he raised the crucified Redeemer to the throne of glory, and made him Head over all things for his church. Thus the convinced sinner cries for help, and is brought to praise the Lord in the company of his redeemed people; and thus all believers will at length be delivered from this evil world, from sin and death, and praise their Saviour for ever.I cried unto the Lord with my voice - See the notes at Psalm 3:4, where the language is the same. He uttered a loud and audible prayer, though he was alone. It was not a mental ejaculation, but he gave expression to his desires.

With my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication - See Psalm 30:8. The Hebrew word rendered "did make my supplication," means to implore favor or mercy. It denotes the language of petition and entreaty, not the language of claim.


Ps 142:1-7. Maschil—(See on [635]Ps 32:1, title). When he was in the cave—either of Adullam (1Sa 22:1), or En-gedi (1Sa 24:3). This does not mean that the Psalm was composed in the cave, but that the precarious mode of life, of which his refuge in caves was a striking illustration, occasioned the complaint, which constitutes the first part of the Psalm and furnishes the reason for the prayer with which it concludes, and which, as the prominent characteristic, gives its name.

1. with my voice—audibly, because earnestly.

1 I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication.

2 I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.

3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.

4 I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.

5 I cried unto thee, O Lord, I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

6 Attend unto my cry, for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.

7 Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.

Psalm 142:1

"I cried unto the Lord with my voice." It was a cry of such anguish that he remembers it long after, and makes a record of it. In the loneliness of the cave he could use his voice as much as he pleased; and therefore he made its gloomy vaults echo with his appeals to heaven. When there was no soul in the cavern seeking his blood, David with all his soul was engaged in seeking his God. He felt it a relief to his heart to use his voice in his pleadings with Jehovah. There was a voice in his prayer when he used his voice for prayer, it was not vox et praeterea nihil It was a prayer vivo corde as well as viv voce. "With my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication." He dwells upon the fact that he spoke aloud in prayer; it was evidently well impressed upon his memory, hence he doubles the word and says, "with my voice; with my voice." It is well when our supplications are such that we find pleasure in looking back upon them. He that is cheered by the memory of his prayers will pray again. See how the good man's appeal was to Jehovah only: he did not go round about to men, but he ran straight forward to Jehovah, his God. What true wisdom is here! Consider how the Psalmist's prayer grew into shape as he proceeded with it. He first poured out his natural longings, - "I cried;" and then he gathered up all his wits and arranged his thoughts, - "I made supplication." True prayers may differ in their diction, but not in their direction: an impromptu cry and a preconceived supplication must alike ascend towards the one prayer-hearing God, and he will accept each of them with equal readiness. The intense personality of the prayer is noteworthy: no doubt the Psalmist was glad of the prayers of others, but he was not content to be silent himself. See how everything is in the first person, - "I cried with my voice; with my voice did I make my supplication." It is good to pray in the plural - "Our Father," but in times of trouble we shall feel forced to change our note into "Let this cup pass from me."

Psalm 142:2

"I poured out my complaint before him." His inward meditation filled his soul: the bitter water rose up to the brim; what was to be done? He must pour out the wormwood and the gall, he could not keep it in; he lets it run away as best It can, that so his heart may be emptied of the fermenting mixture. But he took care where he outpoured his complaint, lest he should do mischief, or receive an ill return. If he poured it out before man he might only receive contempt from the proud, hard-heartedness from the careless, or pretended sympathy from the false; and therefore he resolved upon an outpouring before God alone, since he would pity and relieve. The word is scarcely "complaint"; but even if it be so we may learn from this text that our complaint must never be of a kind that we dare not bring before God. We may complain to God, but not of God. When we complain it should not be before men, but before God alone. "I shewed before him my trouble." He exhibited his griefs to one who could assuage them: he did not fall into the mistaken plan of so many who publish their sorrows to those who cannot help them. This verse is parallel with the first; David first pours out his complaint, letting it flow forth in a natural, spontaneous manner, and then afterwards he makes a more elaborate show of his affliction; just as in Psalm 142:1 he began with crying, and went on to "make supplication." Praying men pray better as they proceed. Note that we do not show our trouble before the Lord that he may see it, but that we may see him. It is for our relief, and not for his information that we make plain statements concerning our woes: it does us much good to set out our sorrow in order, for much of it vanishes in the process, like a ghost which will not abide the light of day; and the rest loses much of its terror, because the veil of mystery is removed by a clear and deliberate stating of the trying facts. Pour out your thoughts and you will see what they are; show your trouble and the extent of it will be known to you: let all be done before the Lord, for in comparison with his great majesty of love the trouble will seem to be as nothing.

Psalm 142:3

"When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path." The bravest spirit is sometimes sorely put to it. A heavy fog settles down upon the mind, and the man seems drowned and smothered in it; covered with a cloud, crushed with a lead, confused with difficulties, conquered by impossibilities. David was a hero, and yet his spirit sank: he could smite a giant down, but he could not keep himself up. He did not know his own path, nor feel able to bear his own burden. Observe his comfort: he looked away from his own condition to the ever-observant, all-knowing God; and solaced himself with the fact that all was known to his heavenly Friend. Truly it is well for us to know that God knows what we do not know. We lose our heads, but God never closes his eyes: our judgments lose their balance, but the eternal mind is always clear.

"In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me." This the Lord knew at the time, and gave his servant warning of it. Looking back, the sweet singer is rejoiced that he had so gracious a Guardian, who kept him from unseen dangers. Nothing is hidden from God; no secret snare can hurt the man who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, for he shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. The use of concealed traps is disgraceful to our enemies, but they care little to what tricks they resort for their evil purposes. Wicked men must find some exercise for their malice, and therefore when they dare not openly assail they will privately ensnare. They watch the gracious man to see where his haunt is, and there they set their trap; but they do it with great caution, avoiding all observation, lest their victim being forewarned should escape their toils. This is a great trial, but the Lord is greater still, and makes us to walk safely in the midst of danger, for he knows us and our enemies, our way and the snare which is laid in it. Blessed be his name.

continued...Either that of Adullam, 1 Samuel 22, or that of En-gedi, 1 Samuel 24. There he meditated this Psalm, which afterwards he more accurately composed and committed to writing.

David, finding help no where in his straits and afflictions, Psalm 142:1-4, crieth and comforteth himself in prayer to God, Psalm 142:6,7.

With my voice; either,

1. With the voice of my soul. But so this addition would be superfluous, and much more the repetition of it, because that is necessarily implied in the former word,

I cried, and in the following, I make my supplication. Or rather,

2. With my corporeal voice, which the fervour of my soul forced me to use, when I could not do it without some danger, the enemy being at the mouth of the cave. And so this addition is emphatical, and therefore is repeated. But it is probable that David spoke with a low voice; and that he might do so without very great danger, is manifest from that discourse which passed between David and his men, even when Saul was entered into the cave, 1 Samuel 24:4-7.

I cried unto the Lord with my voice,.... With the voice of his soul, in the language of his mind, mentally, as Moses and Hannah cried unto the Lord when no voice was heard, or articulate sounds expressed, since this prayer was put up to the Lord in the cave where Saul was; though it might have been delivered before he came into it, while he and his men were at the mouth of it, which threw David into this distress; besides the cave was so large as to hold David and his six hundred men without being seen by Saul, and who could discourse together, as David and his men did, without being heard by Saul while he was in it; and so this psalm or prayer might be spoken vocally, though he was there;

with my voice unto the Lord did I make, my supplication: the same thing in other words; "crying" is explained by making "supplication", which is praying to the Lord in an humble manner for grace and mercy, and not pleading merit and worthiness.

<> I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I {a} make my supplication.

(a) David's patience and constant prayer to God condemns their wicked rage, who in their troubles either despair and murmur against God, or else seek other than God, to have relief in their miseries.

1. Aloud to Jehovah will I cry;

Aloud to Jehovah will I make supplication:

1, 2. The Psalmist’s resolve to seek relief by laying his distress before Jehovah.

Verse 1. - I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. "With my voice" means aloud, and therefore earnestly and pressingly (comp. Psalm 3:4; Psalm 27:7; Psalm 64:1; Psalm 77:1; Psalm 130:1, 2, etc.). Psalm 142:1The emphasis of the first two lines rests upon אל־ה. Forsaken by all created beings, he confides in Jahve. He turns to Him in pathetic and importunate prayer (זעק, the parallel word being התחנּן, as in Psalm 30:9), and that not merely inwardly (Exodus 14:15), but with his voice (vid., on Psalm 3:5) - for audible prayer reacts soothingly, strengtheningly, and sanctifyingly upon the praying one - he pours out before Him his trouble which distracts his thoughts (שׁפך שׂיח as in Psalm 102:1, cf. Psalm 62:9; Psalm 64:2; 1 Samuel 1:16), he lays open before Him everything that burdens and distresses him. Not as though He did not also know it without all this; on the contrary, when his spirit (רוּחי as in Psalm 143:4; Psalm 77:4, cf. נפשׁי Jonah 2:7, Psalm 107:5, לבּי Psalm 61:3) within him (עלי, see Psalm 42:5) is enshrouded and languishes, just this is his consolation, that Jahve is intimately acquainted with his way together with the dangers that threaten him at every step, and therefore also understands how to estimate the title (right) and meaning of his complaints. The Waw of ואתּה is the same as in 1 Kings 8:36, cf. Psalm 35. Instead of saying: then I comfort myself with the fact that, etc., he at once declares the fact with which he comforts himself. Supposing this to be the case, there is no need for any alteration of the text in order to get over that which is apparently incongruous in the relation of Psalm 142:4 to Psalm 142:4.
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