Psalm 142. Spill and Spell.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Psalm 142. (MsgB)

A David Psalm—When He Was in the Cave.

I cry out loudly to Godloudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before Him, and spell out my troubles in detail:

“As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away, You know how I’m feeling,
Know the danger I’m in, the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left— there’s not a soul who cares what happens!
I’m up against it, with no exit— bereft, left alone.
I cry out, God, call out: ‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’
Oh listen, please listen; I’ve never been this low.
Rescue me from those who are hunting me down; I’m no match for them.
Get me out of this dungeon so I can thank you in public.
Your people will form a circle around me and you’ll bring me showers of blessing!”

Ever found yourself stuffed away in a cave?

Yeah. Yeah.

I know there are victorious ‘name-it-claim-it’ Christians out there who basically say that something’s really wrong with you and your faith if you wake up some morning and find yourself hiding in a cave. Those same folks say that once you give your life to Christ and start living the real kind of faith Jesus had, God is committed to keeping you high and dry, sitting pretty and winning every battle you find yourself in.

But the truth is this.

Bad things happen to good people.

Caves happen.

Just ask Peter, the fisherman, as he hunkered down in his cave after denying His best friend three times. Or Paul of Tarsus as he sits in his cave, rotting away in a jail cell while God had called him to travel the world. Or how about this one? Jesus of Nazareth, as He found Himself in a cave as He was hanging upon a cross.

You see, like it not, there are times in the lives of God-followers when life just doesn’t happen the way you want it to. Times when your dreams fall off the dinner table like fine china…breaking into dozens of pieces. Times when God seems to be a million miles away and you feel as though you’ve been left to fend for yourself. Seasons in life when you can’t buy a break; let alone win a hand of cards. Or as author Brennan Manning puts it, times when your proverbial cheese is falling off your proverbial cracker!

Sadly, when life hands us lemons, like David finds himself in this Psalm, friends seem to go AWOL as well. Or worse yet, some choose to stand around you, squawking on how you should have or could have avoided this disaster, if you’d only listened to them earlier!

Oy Vey!

Just ask Job how he felt when he found himself in his cave. Both his wife and his good friends ended up becoming his accusers, rather than being the support system he really needed at the time.

So as we grow closer to the end of our blog study in the Book of Psalms, let’s focus just a moment on how King David, one of our heroes in the faith, handles life when he finds himself stuffed away in some cave, left to rot by his friends and being hotly pursued by his enemies.

Two words stand out to me in verse 2…

Spill and spell.

First of all, David spills. He refuses to hold all of his pain and frustration inside. The first couple of verses of Psalm 142 indicate that David loudly pours out his anger, his frustrations, his fears, his hopes, and his pain to God. I’m guessing from other Psalms David wrote that he holds nothing back here. He’s cornered in a cave and life is near the breaking point. But rather than holding it all in, he loudly dumps. He spills it all out. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Some say that this kind of loud gut-spilling rampage betrays our faith in God and that we should never allow ourselves to show these raw emotions to God. To that, I say hogwash. God, our Creator, who knows everything even before we tell Him, is a big God. I actually believe that He prefers us to be gut-honest with all of our feelings, spilling out the entire trashcan right before His eyes. As David does this, I truly believe that this approach to his pain allows him, with God’s help, to then go to the second step of processing his pain…


As I see it, once we’ve let all of our raw emotion out, holding nothing back from God, we can now come and reason with our God. In Psalm 142, we find David spelling out before both God and himself a logical progression of how he hopes his God will come and rescue him from his trials and hardships. Verses 3-7 contain a well-documented, well thought-out prayer of rescue. So complete is this prayer, I believe it is a model prayer recorded for us; ready-made for anyone at anytime to use when we find ourselves holed up in some cave in our lives.

So there you have it, my friends. Two simple steps of reality, written for us in stone. Wisdom ready-made for us when life goes sour. A Song Prayer worthy of memorization. A Classic for all us earth-dwellers who find ourselves from time to time hiding out in a cave, deserted by friends and being pursued by our enemies.

Thanks, David, I needed that!

My prayer: Father, sadly, in this life, caves happen. Rather than spending time asking You for the why’s and how’s of why I find myself in a cave; empower me, Spirit of God, to become more like David, who practiced the fine art of spilling out his emotions before You and then spelling out his desires with You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: First, and foremost, how might I allow myself to become more gut-honest with my raw emotions with God? Do I feel fully free to spill out all of my feelings to the Lord or am I constrained by religiousness that tells me to hide my true feelings from the Almighty? Secondly, once I’ve given myself permission to show raw emotion with God, am I able to then sit down and reason with Him, spelling out my heartfelt prayers and concerns clearly at His table?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?

Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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Click here to continue on this blog series…

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