Summary: IN THE DARKNESS OF HIS CAVE, DAVID SOUGHT HIS COVENANT GOD IN PRAYER.
Beloved Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Lord God grants that today a number of young people may profess the faith. They declare before the Lord and His congregation that they love the Lord, and desire to serve Him every day of their lives.
The day has been some time in the coming; it’s taken months, even years, for these young people to come to the point where they want to respond publicly to the promises God extended to them in baptism. The road was some times smooth and some times rocky; there were moments when these young people were convinced that Yes, to profess the faith was the right thing to do, other moments when doubts arose – is this really for me? But now it’s that far; today you profess the faith. With regards to the future, the expectation may arise that the doubts you may have had will now disappear; from here on in you should be sailing calm waters….
But as it is, brothers and sisters, that is not the way things will go. I remind you of what we confess in Lord’s Day 52 of the Catechism; “our sworn enemies –the devil, the world, and our own flesh- do not cease to attack us.” That’s a reality you, who profess the faith today will experience painfully. And that experience will awaken in you all sorts of questions, questions particularly in relation to how to respond to such unpleasantness. That is why I take the opportunity today to lay before you the inspired prayer of the psalmist in the cave. The Lord has included this prayer in the Word He gave us so that we might be taught how we should respond to the crises we face in this life.
I preach to you the word of God this morning using this theme:
IN THE DARKNESS OF HIS CAVE, DAVID SOUGHT HIS COVENANT GOD IN PRAYER.
1. the setting of the psalm
2. the struggle of the psalmist
3. the answer of his God
1. The setting of the psalm
The Holy Spirit tells us that David is the author of Ps 142. David is not, though, in a comfortable position; in our text he tells us that he cries out to God. The word David uses in vs 5 for “cry” captures a measure of desperation; he can find no way out of the pressure around him (cf Judg 6:7; I Chr 5:20), and so cries out his anguish. We wonder: what is David’s circumstance? Why is he experiencing pressure?
The heading over the psalm informs us that David prayed this psalm “when he was in the cave.” As it is, we know of two instances when David was “in the cave.” The first instance is recorded in I Sam 22 (when David fled from Achish and hid in “the cave of Adullam”). The second instance is recorded in I Sam 24. Commentators agree that of these two possibilities the I Sam 24 instance forms the likely setting of Ps 142.
The chapter –we read it- tells us that King Saul pursued David in the Wilderness of En Gedi. In his efforts to escape from the king and his soldiers, David found a hiding place in a cave. King Saul entered the very cave in which David was hiding in order “to attend to his needs” (vs 3). David’s men at the back of the cave whispered to their leader that “this is the day the Lord will deliver your enemy into your hand” (vs 4). According to vs 10, they urged him specifically to grab the opportunity and kill the king.
Kill the king, David’s men advised him. We can understand that this suggestion formed a distinct temptation for David. Consider:
· David was being chased up and down the country by the king and his soldiers, as if he were a wrongdoer. In the process David’s freedom was taken from him, David’s opportunity to build a future for himself was denied him, and his name was dragged through the mud. But here was an opportunity for David to rid himself of his hater and begin building up his reputation in the land again, here was opportunity to take control of his life and generate opportunity to do the things he’d like to do. Yes, that’s tempting.
· Further, David’s men put the matter to him as if this were God’s will for David. It’s what they say in vs 4; “This is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” We know from experience that to say that God’s hand is behind something, that God wills this or that, is to increase the pressure; if God wants it, we’d better do it.