Psalm 142 – being honest with God

“I cry aloud with my voice to the LordI make supplication with my voice to the Lord.” (vs 1)

“I cry aloud”…Why are we so often afraid to actually speak out loud to God? And the word there really means to shriek from anguish or danger. Are we worried that if He really knew what we were feeling He would reject us? There is a fear that seems to live on in us even though Jesus took all of God’s wrath on the cross. But here, David is sharply honest about how he’s feeling. He is not ashamed to cry, or to do it out loud. For women, crying comes pretty easy, but our culture has deemed it negative or weakness for guys to cry. Not so with David or the time in which he lived. He is not so polite and he speaks to God with his whole voice (not just thinking it) – Perhaps it makes it feel like it’s more permanent when we say things out loud. Maybe this is why communication with people is so valuable. There is something to the “out loud” aspect of this Psalm that speaks to me.

“I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.” (vs 2)

To “pour out” means like a glass pouring out water, spilling out as if what you are feeling cannot be held in any longer. Now for some people, they are never aware of how they are feeling in the first place. I know someone who said he never knows how he feels, so he as to ask someone else to tell him how he feels. Wow, that blew me away when I heard that some time ago. But we can still come to God asking him to show us how we feel. I sometimes get really mad at God when things are going in a bad direction and I feel as if He is not listening to my cries. I “get in His face” (or so it seems like I’m doing at the time)… When I am alone I often, like David here, “declare” my trouble before Him. This used to freak me out and I’d feel real guilty afterwards. (Not so anymore, thankfully). But there is a cleansing that happens when we honestly tell God how we do feel. I believe He really likes it. He doesn’t want people to be fake. Jesus spoke a lot to the Pharisees about hypocrisy; believing one way and then acting another way. If I feel mad, I just get it out. He can take it. He wants us to say exactly how we feel. He took all of God’s anger on the cross, so it’s spent already. There is never again any fear that God will be angry, judge us or punish us for how we feel. And this word “trouble” means when you go over and over something in your mind, rehearsing it again and again. How we’ve all done that and yet here, David is not afraid to bring all that ruminating to His Father. What confidence in God’s love and acceptance for him!

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.” (vs 3)

“My spirit was overwhelmed within me”, it made his spirit faint.  Fainted; that means to languish, be out of it, or otherwise not coherent or with it. Does that not describe just how it feels? David seems to be beset by enemies here, and he’s feeling quite trapped by his circumstances. There seems to be no end in sight. Maybe he too felt like God was absent from his troubles. And yet David says,“Thou didst know my path”…God sees all. He knows exactly where we are in life and why we feel the way we do.

“Look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me; there is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul.” (vs 4)

The KJV version also says, “refuge failed me.” David is feeling alone. No one is regarding him. No one is paying attention to him in the place where he finds himself. And then David goes so far as to say no one cares for his soul! Ugh, the agony of it all and we’ve all felt this way too. No escape in sight and even if you’ve felt like you saw the way out, it leads back like a turnaround. I believe everyone in the world feels this way at some point. And yet God can use it to lead us right into His arms.

“I cried out to You, O LordI said, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (vs 5)

David is exhausted here. He’s still crying out again, but then truth comes into his thinking. David knows there is no other true refuge but God. Deep in his heart he knows this but he still wants to know God is real, that He is really going to help him. He knows he has nothing except what God has given him. His portion, his supply, his provision. All that David has is from God and so with us too. Sometimes we need the crying to get our troubles “out of us” so that we can receive the truth.

“Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.” (vs 6)

There is humility in David here. He admits his weakness. David is in a private place of honesty before God confessing his weakness. He cannot fight off his attackers again and again. David was pursued by Saul the king after David had been anointed king, so it was a real life battle for his life. Reminds me of 2 Cor 12 when Paul said he asked 3 times that his thorn in the flesh be removed but God’s answer was Himself – He alone is sufficient for us. What God can do for us is way more than we could ever do in our own strength, which is really not strength at all. And God’s sufficiency is more than we could ask or imagine to ask!

“Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name; the righteous will surround me, for You will deal bountifully with me.” (vs 7)

I love “bring my soul out of prison!” We do get pursued and trapped by the enemy of our soul. Even when we think life is against us, it’s not really life, but it’s the devil. He’s the only one who wants to see us destroyed.  I think David was spent, poured out and he really did desire to give thanks. He gladly would rejoice to be surrounded by other godly men right then but he’s also admitting that God will bring bounty where there has been lack. He is leaning heavily on God’s character to supply and God never supplies in a skimpy way. His abundance can and will do more than anything we could ever attempt to do.

I’m always taken aback at the confidence David had in God’s love, kindness and ability to do for him what he could never do himself. Oh, that we could also just lean into God’s love and actually count on His goodness to show up every single time we cry out, pray or just talk to Him. Receiving from Jesus can often mean just being honest. Throw away your fear that God might not like what you have to say and see if you don’t receive all His goodness in the process!

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