Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Read Psalm 142

A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me.

Go Deeper

We know two important facts about Psalm 142 from the outset; first, it is historically attributed to King David, whom we read about in 1st and 2nd Samuel. Knowing who David is and the deep intimacy of his relationship with the Father as a “man after God’s own heart,” can help us get inside David’s head as he calls out to God. This psalm is typically associated with the period found in 1 Samuel 22 where David hides in the cave of Adullam from a disgraced Saul—up until this point in the narrative, likely the lowest point in David’s life. 

Secondly, we know that Psalm 142 is a maskil. While scholars aren’t absolutely certain what this word means in Hebrew, it’s clear based on the psalms that are labeled accordingly that it refers to a kind of contemplative or meditative psalm, often designed to impart a principle to the reader. David learned difficult lessons hiding in a cave on his knees, and in this maskil, seems to write to instruct others in how to cry out in similarly difficult situations.

This psalm is a powerful offering for the one who sits in the midst of loneliness and isolation. In a generation that is identifying more than ever before as exceedingly alone, David reminds us that we have a sure and steady comfort in the person of Jesus, a tender friend and willing lover of our souls who will “Listen to [our] cry” and “set [us] free from [our] prison.”  David’s words could not be clearer—he is lost, alone and feels as though he has no one he can rely on, so he cries out to God, begging Him to meet him in a dark, dirty cave in the wilderness. As 1 and 2 Samuel go on to tell us, God answers the prayer of David, and He wants to answer us as well when we find ourselves alone in the caves of our lives crying out to Him.


  1. What moments in your life have you felt like David in this psalm? Do you feel like David right now? How did God meet you in the midst of your fear, isolation, or distress?
  2. David used his experience of difficulty to write this psalm as a model for how to cry out to God—how can you use your “alone in the cave” type moments to reveal the character of God to those around you?
  3. “Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name” (v. 7). Where has God set you free? Praise Him for that today. 

Pray this

In the spirit of the last maskil in the Bible, spend some time contemplating how God has rescued you from your moments of despair. As they come to mind, spend a moment thanking God for His kindness in each of those circumstances and worshiping Him for His faithfulness. 

Leave a Comment Below

Did you learn something today? Share it with our Bible Reading Plan community by commenting below.

Join the Team

Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email

5 thoughts on “Psalm 142”

  1. We know from 1 Samuel 22 that David was in deep distress, hiding in a cave from an enemy who desired to take his life. He was hemmed in by fear not knowing which way to turn, he desperately needed God’s wisdom to proceed. He models what we all have the privilege to do, he takes it to the Lord in prayer. He cries, pleads & pours out his heart to the One who knows his way. He believes God to be his shelter, his portion, & his rescuer.
    David wrote powerful words in Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” Today, I want to rest in Jesus as my Rock, the One who is a firm foundation when the storms roll in and over me, He will surely steady my soul.

  2. Something important to note in this Psalm is the difference between verses 4 & 5. In verse 4, David says that “‘no refuge remains for me; no one cares for my soul.” And then one verse later he says to the Lord, “you are my refuge.” David feels like he’s alone, but then he reminds himself of truth- that God is with him and is his refuge in times of trouble. This is important because oftentimes our feelings do not align with truth. Just because we feel as though God is not there, doesn’t make it true. When we feel something we need to express it (like we see David do here), but then we need to follow that up with Truth about who God is. We have to remind ourselves that God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do- regardless of how we feel in that moment.

  3. I am continually amazed at how God speaks in the most opportune ways.
    For some reason, I hav been overwhelmed with anxiety this morning.
    Fear is the foundation of anxiety and in this Psalm, God reminds me, He is my refuge.
    As I meditate on this word, my heart rate slows and my breathing is less labored. He is my rock!
    Thank you Jesus for all the times you have lifted me out of the muck and darkness of this world. Thank you for your continued pursuit of my soul, for your mercy and grace.
    I know you did not give me a spirit of fear and I choose to rest in that today!
    “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

  4. I am with David in this season. But God… I continually give thanks and KNOW He is my rock and refuge. Darkness tries to rear its ugly head but God and His word as my sword. I am so thankful for the knowledge of the hope of all eternity and this is but a moment. BUT GOD…WOOHOO!!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.