Psalm 142

I cry aloud to Yahweh; * I cry to Yahweh for help.
    To him I pour my complaints; * I tell him all my troubles:
        My spirit fails me, * but you know where I go.
    In the path where I walk * they put traps for me.
        Look around and see: * no one knows me.
            I have no escape, * no one to care for me.
        I cry to you, Yahweh; * I know you are my refuge, * my share in the life to come.
    God, hear my cry! * Your Greatness, I am worn out!
        Save me from my hunters; * they are stronger than I.
    Take me from the Prison; * then I will praise your name.
Let the righteous gather round me, * for you have been generous, Most High.

1. Of understanding for David, A prayer when he was in the cave.

142:0 This is Psalm 142 (Vul 141) in the whole book, the 42nd in the third part. According to the Gloss, the Psalmist is still engrossed in prayer, and what he asked in the first two [Psalms of this part] he repeats here, as a clean animal chewing its cud (Lev 11). It fulfils Proverbs 21:20 Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, that is the words of Sacred Scripture, but the fool devours it.

Its title refers to prayer, like four others: 17, 86, 90, 102. Its title is: An understanding for David, when he was in the cave. Its meaning, according to the Gloss, is that the present Psalm contains the mind of David when he was in the cave. This can be taken literally and spiritually, that is, referring to the whole body of the Church or to its head, when he was in the cave, either that historical cave where David fled from Saul (1 Sam 22), or the spiritual David, the congregation of the just, in the world or the body, or Christ in the tomb. And this is the meaning of the word "prayer". Or: the verse could be more easily understood if the word "understanding" is taken in the genitive case, giving the reading: The prayer is of the mind of David, elevated to God, when he was in the cave. The last part does not change.

As for the division of the Psalm, the Psalmist asks to be freed (1) from guilt, (2) from present misery, that is, to be taken from this mortal flesh: "6. I cried". In the first there is (1) a prayer, (2) a persuasive reason: "5. I looked to the right". In the first there is (1) a prayer, or a continuation of the prayer which he made and still makes, (2) the necessity of praying: "In the way where I walked". The first states (1) that he prayed and how, (2) that he still persists in praying: "3. In his sight". The first says (1) that he cried, (2) what distinguishes this cry: "with my voice".

2. I cried to the Lord with my voice: with my voice I made supplication to the Lord.
I cry aloud to Yahweh; I cry to Yahweh for help.

142: The idea is: I called with my voice, not someone else's -John 9:21 He is of age. He will speak for himself. I am not like those who wish to serve through vicars. The good cantor spoke against these: "If you do not want to have a vicarious reward, do not have vicarious merit." I called to the Lord himself, not to an earthly king, as the Persians said -Dan 6:8 Whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. I called at the instigation of my heart; otherwise it is not a call that will ring in God's ear. -Augustine: Of what value is the noise of words when the heart is silent? And some have said, "Not voice, but volition; not musical harmony, but the heart; not clamor, but ardor reaches God's ear."

Then he shows that his call is one of request, not of complaint or blasphemy. The idea is: I called to the Lord, and with my voice I make supplication. -Job 5:8 As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause. -2 Kings 13:4 But Jehoahaz entreated Yahweh, and Yahweh heeded him. -Wis 18:21 He brought forward the shield of his ministry, prayer and propitiation by incense; he withstood the anger and put an end to the disaster, showing that he was your servant.

3. In his sight I pour out my prayer,
To him I pour my complaints;

142: Here he shows that he continues his prayer, showing (1) that he prays and how, (2) that his prayer is not hidden from God, but God really knows about it: "and you knew". In the first he shows three conditions of his prayer: (1) that it is with tears, (2) that it is bitter: "and before him", (3) that it is humble: "when my spirit fails". The idea is: I prayed and I am still pouring out my prayer abundanly, as the Gloss says, like a pure fountain. A prayer is said to be poured out when tears are shed in prayer, which are like supplicatory words coming from the eyes. -Lam 2:18 Let your eyes not be silent. Note here that the wicked pour themselves out (1) by gluttony -Sir 37:28 Do not become a glutton for choice foods. -Jer 50:11 Frisk like calves on the green. (2) by unchastity -Gen 49:4 Reuben, unstable as water, you shall no longer excel because you went up onto your father's bed; then you defiled it. (3) by cupidity -Lam 2:11 My bile is poured out on the ground. -Jude 1:11 Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam's error for the sake of gain. (4) by pride and talkativeness -Sir 20:13 The wise make themselves beloved by only few words, but the courtesies of fools are wasted. (5) by envy -Acts 1:18 He (Judas) burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. But the good pour themselves out in the sight of God (1) by confessing their sins -Lam 2:19 Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! (2) by compassion and piety -Is 58:10 if you offer your food to the hungry. (3) by prayer, as in this verse.-1 Sam 1:15 I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before Yahweh.

and before him I declare my trouble:
I tell him all my troubles:

142: The idea is: I pray with tears, and also I declare my trouble, that is, my bitterness of heart, before him. -Hosea 6:1 In their tribulation they will come to me in the morning (Vul). -Jonah 2:2 I called to Yahweh out of my distress.

4. When my spirit failed me,
My spirit fails me,

142: Here is the humility of his prayer, shown in the failing of his spirit. The idea is: I still pray with tears and bitterness, but I also pray humbly, because when my spirit fails me (the present tense, according to another reading) in his own self-estimation -Job 17:1 My spirit is broken. For the Lord sometimes sucks and draws the whole spirit of the humble to himself, so that they think of themselves as nothing. -Job 34:14 If he should take back his heart to himself, and gather to himself his spirit and breath. And that is by (1) the word of preaching. -Joshua 2:11 As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you, Joshua was told. (2) the intuition of contemplation -1 Kings 10:5 When the Queen of Sheba saw the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his valets, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of Yahweh, there was no more spirit in her. -Mat 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit.

then thou knewest my paths.
but you know where I go.

142: Here he affirms what he just said, showing that it is not hidden to God. The idea is: I say this without lying, because you yourself knew my paths, my narrow thoughts and feelings -Job 34:21 For his eyes are upon the ways of mortals, and he sees all their steps. -Ps 139:4 You supervise all my travels. Or, according to the Gloss, I say that my spirit fails, but I am not because of that rejected and lost, as some might believe, because you knew, with a knowledge of approbation, my paths according justice and the commandments of God. -Prov 4?? The ways that are on the right the Lord knows.

In this way wherein I walked, they have hidden a snare for me.
In the path where I walk they put traps for me.

142:1.1.2 After referring to the prayer he made and still makes, he here shows its necessity, which is because of the plotting of the hidden enemy and persecutor. The idea is: I prayed and still pray, and no wonder, because adversaries have hidden a snare of fraudulent deception. -1 Maccabees 1:36 The citadel became an ambush against the sanctuary. They did that in the way where I walked, or so he thought. For on the way that leads to God there is not and there cannot be any trap. -Ps 140:6 They put snares for me at the edge of the path. This way can be called Christ, and no trap can be placed on it or alongside it. -John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life. Or it could be called true faith about Christ -2 Corinthians 5:7 We walk by faith, not by sight. Or it could be called charity -1 Cor 12:31 And I will show you a still more excellent way.

5. I looked on my right hand, and beheld,
Look around and see:

142: After referring to his continuous prayer, here reasons are given why it should be answered: (1) his internal and hidden contemplation of eternal things, (2) his singular constancy: "flight failed me". In the first there are (1) meditation on eternal things, (2) the hiding of this meditation: "and there was no one". The idea is: I asked and still ask, and you should hear me, because it is while compelled by that necessity that I looked, that is, turned my consideration, to the right, that is, to eternal things, which are on the right. -Cant 2:6 His left hand under my head, his right hand embraced me! -Prov 3:16 Long life is in her right hand-- and I saw what is on the right, as Stephen, while being stoned, saw the heavens opened and Jesus standing. For on the right there is true enlightenment. -Job 38:18-19 Declare, if you know all this, where is the way to the dwelling of light. -Job 38:24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed. The answer would be, "It lives on the right and is distributed on the right. We are told to look -Baruch 3:14 where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace.

and there was no one that would know me.
no one knows me.

142: No one would know that I was looking that way. -Ps 77:7 Through the night I play the lyre; I talk with my heart. The verse could be understood as arguing from the shortage of helpers, and that the verse is spoken by the Head dying on the cross. The idea is: I looked to the right to see if there were any helpers, if the Apostles stayed by me, and there was no one that knew me, even Peter. -Mat 26:72 Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man". -Is 63:5 I looked, but there was no helper; I stared, but there was no one to sustain me. If it is objected that his mother etc. stood next to the cross, I answer that they did not stand there to defend him, and that is what is referred to here.

Flight hath failed me: and there is no one that hath regard to my soul.
I have no escape, no one to care for me.

142:1.2.2 Here he argues from his singular constancy, mentioning (1) his constancy, (2) its singularity: "there is no one". The idea is: I was meditating on eternal things, and flight failed me, not because I was hemmed in, but because I was constant, stable and strong. -Amos 2:14 Flight shall perish from the swift, because if he is a good shepherd, he must stay and not flee. -John 10:11-12 The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. he hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away. -Jer 25:35 Flight shall fail the shepherds. One could object from Matthew 10:23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next - and Corinthians 11:33 I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands. The answer is in the Gloss, that what should never happen is mental flight, but physical flight can depend on the place and time.

And there is no one who is concerned to invite my soul, even though there may be many who want to kill me -Is 57:1 The righteous perish, that is, in his constancy, and no one takes it to heart, rather he is rejected the more. They are intent on heaven with a constant and firm faith. -Luke 9:53 The Samaritans did not receive him, because he was headed for Jerusalem.

6. I cried to thee, O Lord: I said: Thou art my hope, my portion in the land of the living.
I cry to you, Yahweh; I know you are my refuge, my share in the life to come.

142:2.1 In this second part he asks to be totally delivered from the present misery. So there is (1) an argument to move the judge, (2) the petition: "Attend to". He argues (1) from his devotion, (2) from his confidence: "I said", (3) from indefatigable and persevering devotion: "my portion". The idea is: I asked and still ask to be delivered from sin and the trap of the adversary and, Lord, I cried to you, with my cry echoing the devotion of my heart. -Lam 2:18 Cry aloud to the Lord! O wall of daughter Zion! Let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite!

Secondly he says: After calling to you, I said in my heart, you are my hope. -Jer 17:17 You are my refuge in the day of disaster. -Esther 14:19 (Vul addition) Hear the voice of those who have no other hope but you.

Thirdly, I said, You are my portion, which I expect, desire and love, not here, but in the land of the living. Here is indefatigable love -Ps 16:5 Yahweh, you have portioned my cup (Vul: is my portion). -Num 18:20 I am your share and your possession among the Israelites. -Lam 3:24 Yahweh is my portion, says my soul. But in the land of the living, not the dying, which is here, or of the dead, which is hell. -Ps 27:13 I trust in the Victor to see the beauty of Yahweh in the land of life eternal.

7. Attend to my supplication: for I am brought very low.
God, hear my cry! Your Greatness, I am worn out!

142:2.2.1 Here is stated the petition, for three things: (1) the attention of the judge, (2) deliverance from the wicked: "Deliver me", (3) to draw me out of my bodily dwelling: "Bring my soul". In the first is (1) the petition, (2) the reason why he should be heard: "for I am brought". The idea is: I have called to you, hoped in you and chosen you. Therefore, Lord, attend to my supplication and fulfil it, because I am am greatly humbled. The great humiliation can mean that I am humbled interiorly in my heart and exteriorly in my body. The first is a matter of virtue, the second is dejection and affliction. -Judith 9:11 You are the God of the humble, the help of the oppressed. -Dan 3:30 But with contrite hearts and humbled spirits may we be accepted by you.

Deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
Save me from my hunters; they are stronger than I.

142:2.2.2 Here he asks to be delivered from his adversaries. There is (1) the petition, (2) a reason why it should be heard: "for they are stronger". The idea is: Attend to my prayer, and deliver me from my persecutors -Jer 15:15 Bring down retribution for me (Albert: deliver me from) on my persecutors, as you usually do. -Jer 20:13 He has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers. And the one you deliver is delivered well. -John 8:36 If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed, which is more than being set free. -Sir 51:8 He saves those who take refuge in him, and rescues them from every evil. [Second part of verse not commented]

8. Bring my soul out of prison,
Take me from the Prison;

142: Here he asks to be delivered from his bodily dwelling, stating (1) the petition, (2) a double utility, the first that God may be praised: "that I may praise", the second that his neighbour may be edified: "the just wait". The idea is: I asked to be delivered from my persecutors, and I also ask, Bring my soul out of prison, that of the flesh, for the body is a prison to the holy soul yearning for eternal things. -Job 7:12 Am I the Sea, or the Dragon, that you set a guard over me? The sea is the sinner, the dragon the devil, which are not surprisingly kept in a prison, because they aim at doing evil, but for one who aims only to do good it is surprising. Moaning from this prison, Paul said (Rom 7:24) Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? No wonder, because in this prison he suffers from hunger and thirst. -Mat 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness in the prison of the body. He is exposed to being devoured by lions, which are motions of the flesh. He is blinded by darkness -Is 21:4 My heart is bewildered, dread (Vul: darkness) overwhelms me. He is immersed in the mud of dirty feelings -Ps 69:3 I have sunk into the abysmal Mire where there is no footing. Note that if he is guilty, he is held in reserve for a greater punishment, but for glory if he is chosen, like the cup-bearer of Pharaoh and the baker (Gen 40). The second was hung, while the first was restored to his original honor and much more.

that I may praise thy name: the just wait for me, until thou reward me.
then I will praise your name. Let the righteous gather round me, for you have been generous, Most High.

142: Here is the first purpose of taking him out of the body, that God may be praised. The idea is: Take my soul from prison that I may praise your name, that is, your renouned power and kindness. -Isaiah 38:19 The living, the living, thank you. -Exodus 15:1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to Yahweh. -Is 51:11 They will come to Zion singing.

The second purpose is spoken more properly in the person of the Head. The idea is: Free me from prison for the praise of your name, and also to give joy and edification to the just, because the just wait for me until you reward me. This is true of the martyrs, for the just rejoice at their glory after they were taken from their bodies. They especially rejoice at the Head, whose glory after death was the edification of the whole body. -Is 51:5 The islands, that is, the saints who are buffeted on every side by the waves of bitter experiences, wait for me. -Is 30:18 Blessed are all those who wait for him. -Jer 14:8 O hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble. They wait for me to reform their soul and body. -Phil 3:20-21 We are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory. To this glorious reformation may the glorious Son of God bring us, who is blessed for all ages upon ages. Amen.