“I cry to you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living’” (Psalm 142:5).
When David was in trouble, many times he sat down and wrote a psalm. He was always honest in those times, telling God exactly how he felt about whatever situation he found himself in. While these psalms often begin with a cry of deep despair, by the end David has returned to hope in God. He knows God will rescue him, and he anticipates that deliverance. Psalm 142, written while David hid in a cave as King Saul lurked outside, is one such psalm.
The opening verses depict David’s emotional state. “With my voice I cry out to the LORD,” he writes; “with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him” (vv. 1-2). He is upset, and he’s not hesitant to tell God so. He is literally surrounded by those who want to kill him. Traps lie across his path, and he has nowhere to turn. He has no one to whom he can turn for help. He’s alone with his little band of outlaws, his life sought by his own king. “No refuge remains for me,” he laments; “no one cares for my soul” (v. 4b).
But fortunately, David knows he is never truly alone. Immediately after stating he has no safe place, he names God as his greatest refuge, a place to which he can fly in any time of trouble. “I cry to you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living’” (v. 5). Though he has no earthly help, he realizes he doesn’t really need it. He is still safe in God’s presence. He knows God is still powerful, still able to rescue him from his persecutors. He draws confidence from that, to the extent that he praises God for a deliverance that has not yet taken place. He can rejoice because he has experienced the power of God. No earthly circumstance can make him forget that the LORD is his mighty deliverer.