This Week's Focus Passage

Psalm 142 ‘Maschil of David, when he was in the cave; a Prayer.’

Psalm 142

Maschil of David, when he was in the cave; a Prayer.’

This superscription is what is written and underlined in an introductory fashion. These are a part of the inspired Word, and by many writers are counted as the first verse.

The seven verses—of course the verse divisions are not inspired—shall be set down in a prose, rather than a poetic form for the ease of the reader of this meditation. As you read, please remember and consider that it is a prayer, as are many of David’s psalms.

I cry with my voice unto Jehovah; with my voice unto Jehovah do I make supplication. I pour out my complaint before him; I show before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walk have they hidden a snare for me. Look on my right hand, and see; for there is no man that knoweth me: refuge hath failed me; no man careth for my soul. I cried unto thee, O Jehovah; I said, Thou art my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks unto thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou wilt deal bountifully with me.

It is not difficult at all to agree with a number of commentators who have expressed their view that, in this psalm, David was particularly bringing out the reality that he was a definite type of the Christ. Here we are able to recall, with David, his own history of many trials which brought forth many prayers unto his God. At the same time, David being a prophet, speaks of the trials and prayers of the Lord Jesus Christ, the much greater son of David. One writer has even entitled this Psalm in this following manner: “A prayer of Messiah, when he was taken and deserted.” And yet another helpful writer and commentator has offered this as its title, when he penned these words: “The cave-thoughts of David, and of David’s Son, for all in extremity,” making the observation that they had imbibed this two-fold character of Psalm 142, that the subject in the heart and mind of David as he inscribed this prayer was, himself and the promised Messiah.

There does not appear to be any satisfactory certainty of just which cave may be referenced by David in this particular heading. The cave that would immediately present itself to our minds is, of course, the cave of Adullam, of which place is first given notice in 1 Samuel 22:1ff. Already, then, in the experience of David, this certain cave is made use of as a refuge for David and his followers fleeing from the murderous designs of King Saul. We are informed that every one that was in distress…gathered themselves unto him in this cave of refuge. Has this psalm not been written for all ages of the Church? David’s greater Son and all that would gather unto Him for safety, would seek this cave of refuge. Our Lord Jesus Christ was pursued during His entire ministry on earth. Well do we recall how that His enemies directed any that might know of His whereabouts to let them know. We read of this most notably in John’s report in 11:57.

Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given commandment, that, if any man knew where he was, he should show it, that they might take him.

Truly, the Son of man had not where to lay His head. Likewise, David and many pilgrims of the faith often found themselves without any place to safely lay their heads. Like their Master, they were hunted and determinately sought in order to destroy them. David, and many subsequent followers of the Lamb, have sought refuge in caves. This ‘cave’ could be viewed as a type or metaphor designating a hiding-place, whether physical or not. The people of God often find themselves simply seeking a refuge from enemies that they might give themselves to prayer. This is what David and his greater Son both did in their experiences of trial. David found refuge in a physical cave, Adullam, while we are told of the Christ that, he went up into the mountain apart to pray…he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23). He made the mountain to be His cave of solitude. How often He set Himself apart to pray unto His Father, The cave-thoughts of David, and of David’s Son, for all in extremity. He began His cry unto His Father with my voice unto Jehovah; with my voice unto Jehovah do I make supplication. Surely was the experience of David in the cave of Adullam of like kind; we can imagine David crying out with his voice in the cave; the sounds of his crying out resounding about the walls of that cave back into his own ears, confirming his desperation even to himself. And the God-man on the mountain, climbing away from the ears of men to cry unto His Father; the sound of His cries echoing throughout the chambers of heaven.

Most poignantly was this demonstrated at Gethsemane. Indelibly is this image burned upon the hearts of His disciples; Peter, James, and John then, and ourselves now. Here again the Lord of glory went apart to pray, to pour out my complaint before him; to show him my trouble, when my spirit was overwhelmed within me. Gethsemane became for Him, at this time of desperation, His cave of Adullam. Here He entered to find Himself alone with His Father. At the very first He told the disciples to Sit ye here while I go yonder and pray, but He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Yet it was at this point that He began to be sorrowful and sore troubled, telling the special three to abide ye here, and watch with me. And he went forward a little. Luke says that it was about a stone’s cast; maybe fifty yards. It was here that He went alone to pray. John Broadus comments that, “Jesus doubtless sought the most secluded spot in the enclosure,” where he fell on his face, and prayed, saying, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me. After praying, He went back to where He had left the three. Finding them asleep when returning from His ‘cave of seclusion’ may have elicited from Him the cry unto His Father suggested by the prophetic words of David in verse four of our psalm. Look on my right hand, and see; for there is no man that careth for my soul. This Maschil of David utters David’s cries in the cave; utters Christ’s strong crying and tears (Hebrews 5:7) in the garden enclosure. Should this not encourage us when in our own cave, or our garden, that such pleading with God is imitation of David; yet more importantly, Christ?

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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