Psalm 142: In a Cave

Devotionals > Old Testament > Psalms > Psalm 142: In a Cave

Psalm 142: In a Cave

July 17, 2022


2 Chronicles 10-12Psalm 142Luke 11:1-131 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Psalm 142:

David lived a life of great trial before he came to inherit the throne that had been given to him by God. Part of that trial was living a life on the run from Saul. This psalm is written “when he was in the cave”—that is either the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22) or the cave of En Gedi (1 Samuel 24). In the latter cave, David had the opportunity to kill his enemy, but did not for fear of touching the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:6), though he cut off a corner of his robe and felt guilty about even doing that (1 Samuel 24:5).

Whether in Adullam or En Gedi, David is writing this psalm in great distress. He is living the life of a bandit on the run. Things were not comfortable. Things were not easy. There was real danger. His life was in peril. At such times, this psalm and its words can be a great encouragement to you as it was to David.

First, he prays. In particular, he “cries out” to God (142:1, 5, 6). David is not bashful in “pouring out his complaint” to God (142:2). He tells him what he feels and why he is so worried, upset, and in “trouble.” Would you, when you are in difficulty, also cry out to God? Our God is a God who loves to hear prayer. Cry out to him!

Second, he realizes that it is God alone upon whom he can rely. This is one of the greatest lessons of extreme difficulty. Trust in people, even princes and great men and women, is a failing proposition in the end; only God is totally reliable. “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over me” (142:3). “People have hidden a snare” (142:3) and “there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me; I have no refuge” (142:4). But, God! “I say, ‘you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living’” (142:5). Sometimes it is only when all other supports are taken away that we realize the ephemeral nature of such human supports and realize what is always true—that it is God alone upon whom we can always rely!

Third, he identifies the godly purpose for which he is ultimately aiming. He wants to be “set free from my prison” (142:7), not simply so that he can be free—though I am sure he desired that too. But specifically so that “I may praise your name.” And “then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.” If you are going through a particularly difficult time, follow the example of David “even in the cave.” Pray (cry out to God!). Understand that it is God upon whom you can truly rely, and rely upon him! And then aim for and pray for the end result that God would be praised through your deliverance!


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."

Bible - devo featured image


Get Pastor Josh’s Daily Devotional in your inbox.