A Prayer from the Original Man Cave

Praying Through the Bible #71

TEXT: Psalm 142

The superscript of this psalm informs us that it is a maschil or contemplation of David — a prayer when he was in the cave. There was a period in David’s life when he spent a lot of time in caves. When he was on the run from Saul, he had to take refuge wherever he could. Sometimes, he took refuge with the aid of friends such as Saul’s son, Jonathan, and the priest Ahimelech. Sometimes, he found refuge with the aid of strangers, such as Abigail whom he eventually married. Sometimes, he found refuge with the enemies of Israel, such as the Philistine king Achish. But, sometimes, David and his men could turn to no one, and they had to flee to the wilderness and the caves.

Scholars mostly agree that Psalm 142 was written while David was in the Cave of Adullam. This cave of Adullam, which was close to a town by the same name, was actually a frequent hideout of bandits — robbers — who lived in the wilderness to swoop down on unsuspecting travelers and take their money and goods. However, while he was in this cave, David carried himself with integrity despite his situation. Twice, he refused to kill Saul when he had the opportunity. And he gained such a reputation that while he was in this cave, “every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.”

The Bible has a considerable amount to say about people who go through “cave” experiences. When Lot fled Sodom and Gomorrah, he fled to a cave. During the period of the judges, when the Midianites oppressed Israel, the Bible tells us that the children of Israel made homes “in the mountains, and caves, and strongholds.” When the Philistines attacked Israel during Saul’s reign as king, I Samuel says, “the people were distressed, then they did hide themselves in caves…” When the prophet Elijah was on the run from Jezebel, he fled to a cave.

Have you ever felt the desire or need to just get away from a problematic situation? Have you ever been in a “cave” experience? How did David get through the cave experience? How did he deal with the depressing, distressing conditions of the cave?

1. He talked it out. In verse 1, David says, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication.” David may have been in a cave, but he wasn’t silent in the cave. He may have been unable to reason with Saul, but that didn’t mean he had nobody to talk to.

2. He walked it out. In verse 3, David says, “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.” Before David found himself in the cave, he was a man on the move.

3. David found a way out. In verse 5, David says, “I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.” David was able to rise above his circumstances because he was not looking to this world for his deliverance. He was not depending on anything he could see and touch. He found a way out of his troubles by looking to God alone.

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