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Psalm 142[a]

A well-written song[b] by David, when he was in the cave;[c] a prayer.

142 To the Lord I cry out;[d]
to the Lord I plead for mercy.[e]
I pour out my lament before him;
I tell him about[f] my troubles.
Even when my strength leaves me,[g]
you watch my footsteps.[h]
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see.
No one cares about me.[i]
I have nowhere to run;[j]
no one is concerned about my life.[k]
I cry out to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my shelter,
my security[l] in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry for help,
for I am in serious trouble.[m]
Rescue me from those who chase me,
for they are stronger than I am.
Free me[n] from prison,
that I may give thanks to your name.
Because of me the godly will assemble,[o]
for you will vindicate me.[p]


  1. Psalm 142:1 sn Psalm 142. The psalmist laments his persecuted state and asks the Lord to deliver him from his enemies.
  2. Psalm 142:1 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. The word is derived from a verb meaning “to be prudent; to be wise.” Various options are: “a contemplative song,” “a song imparting moral wisdom,” or “a skillful [i.e., well-written] song.” The term occurs in the superscriptions of Pss 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142, as well as in Ps 47:7.
  3. Psalm 142:1 sn According to the superscription, David wrote this psalm while in “the cave.” This probably refers to either the incident recorded in 1 Sam 22:1 or to the one recorded in 1 Sam 24:3. See the superscription of Ps 57.
  4. Psalm 142:1 tn Heb “[with] my voice to the Lord I cry out.”
  5. Psalm 142:1 tn Heb “[with] my voice to the Lord I plead for mercy.”
  6. Psalm 142:2 tn Heb “my trouble before him I declare.”
  7. Psalm 142:3 tn Heb “my spirit grows faint.”
  8. Psalm 142:3 tn Heb “you know my path.”
  9. Psalm 142:4 tn Heb “there is no one who recognizes me.”
  10. Psalm 142:4 tn Heb “ a place of refuge perishes from me.”
  11. Psalm 142:4 tn Heb “there is no one who seeks for the sake of my life.”
  12. Psalm 142:5 tn Heb “my portion.” The psalmist compares the Lord to landed property, which was foundational to economic stability in ancient Israel.
  13. Psalm 142:6 tn Heb “for I am very low.”
  14. Psalm 142:7 tn Heb “bring out my life.”
  15. Psalm 142:7 tn Or “gather around.”
  16. Psalm 142:7 tn The Hebrew idiom גָּמַל עַל (gamal ʿal) means “to repay,” here in a positive sense.