Wednesday of Lent IV: Psalm 142  A maskil of David, when he was in the cave

With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
    with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him;
    I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me,
    you know my way!
In the path where I walk
    they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
    there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
    no one cares for my soul.

I cry to you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”
Attend to my cry,
    for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
    for they are too strong for me!
Bring me out of prison,
    that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me,
    for you will deal bountifully with me.

The ascriptions which appear at the beginning of many Psalms are not part of the inspired text. They are ancient but we don’t know quite when they were added or by whom. They tell us that 73 of the 150 Psalms were written by David and 17 of them include a context for the psalm. This is one of those 17. Whoever wrote the ascription wants us to read these words while having in mind the day that David hid in a cave. There are two times David was found in a cave. If you have the time, read those stories in I Samuel 22:1-5 and I Samuel 24. In both accounts, David is at the end of his rope. He is hiding. He is afraid.

Does that sound familiar to you? David begs God in verse 7 to lead him out of his prison. But he has self-isolated and is desperately trying to maintain a life-saving social distance from Saul. No one has thrown him in prison, but it feels like prison to him. In the days of the COVID pandemic, our health departments cut us off from the community which we knew, but this Psalm points us to another day. David looked forward to it, when the righteous would surround him. Join David today in pouring out your complaint to God. Are you lonely, afraid, bored, or something else? David brought it to God. You can too. Trust that God is big enough to listen to all that you feel, even if it is petty or small or if it seems like there is no solution. David felt that way too. He said a prayer in that cave.

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