Psalm 142, The eight prayer Psalms of David

Prayers of DavidOur month of prayer continues. The prayer guide can be downloaded here: Harvest Prayer 8 -14 October2017

In our meeting this week, Graham continued the series on the eight prayers of David. He challenged us to spend time this week meditating upon the Psalm and bringing our concerns to God in prayer. You can listen again to the sermon here:

Psalms 138 – 145

The eight prayer Psalms of David

In order to read these prayers in such a way that they speak to both you and I in our time we must first note some features of their context.

These prayers are the prayers of one person. They present us with his thoughts, his hopes and beliefs and sometimes his human limitations. These are the prayers of a king. They are from the pre New Covenant age.

An introduction to the Psalms

The book of Psalms can be seen as a collection of poems prayers and songs. So it is a collection of these that have been used and are intended for use.

The Psalms represent the faith that had matured over centuries and had reached the stage of development at the time the collection was put together during, or shortly after, the exile into Babylon, probably by temple priests. It became the prayer book during the exile, in the life of the rebuilt temple after the exile and in the synagogues up to the time of Jesus and beyond. It is still used in synagogues and in the church of Jesus the Messiah.

One way to use the Psalms is to pray aloud portions of them as words of our own prayers to God.


1 “I cry”

Verse 1

I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.

To whom is he speaking?

Verse 1, I cry aloud to the Lord.

Verse 5, I cry to you O Lord.

In verse 1 he is speaking in the third person as though he is telling the reader what he is doing. Then is verse 5 he speaks in the first person when he says “I cry to you O Lord”.

At that time, when speaking to royalty, the correct protocol was to address royalty in the third person. So this opening form of speech at the beginning of this Psalm seems to have been the appropriate one. However, how then do we explain the change it verse 5? I think we see here a progression of drawing close to God and an experience of intimacy with God. He begins by addressing the sovereign and moves on to addressing the God who is close to him and hears him.

In verse 1 we have, “I cry aloud”. In verse 2 we have, “I cry to you”. And in verse 6 we have, “Listen to my cry”. So now we must ask the question, what is a cry?

This is a call that comes from the depth of being. A cry can be loud or it can be the quiet cry of the heart. It is not the volume that defines it but the intensity. A cry comes from deep within us. It carries the sense of our desperate need. Verse 6 “Listen to my cry for I am in desperate need”.

Notice, he calls for mercy. Not for what he might think may be due, but what mercy might give. Verse 1, “I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy”.

2 “I pour”

Verse 2

I pour out before him my complaint;  before him I tell my trouble.

John, in his sermon last week, spoke about short prayers. In scripture we also see long structured prayers. See for instance the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple ( ).

I think this description of prayer as pouring tells us that prayer can simply be the spilling out of the contents of our heart and mind, without worrying about how coherent it sounds, how structured, how clever. Our God hears us and knows us.

This week try to find space in your busy life to turn to Jesus and pour your heart out to him. You can spill out your worries, hopes, dreams, ambitions and desires.

Question: Can you remember a time when you poured out your heart in prayer?

3 “It is you”

Verse 3

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.

David knows that creator God is his answer. I find myself remembering his words in Psalm 139 when he is declaring how well he is known by God.

Compare this with 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

David feels no one cares for him other than God. He wants comfort. He asks for mercy, and to be set free from his “prison”.


Prayer as crying

A cry for help may not be focused and clear, but it is heartfelt. It comes from the depth of our being.

Prayer as pouring

David is pouring out his complaint and the trouble he is in.

This sort of prayer is regardless of precision or correct grammar, it doesn’t need all the words to be right or even a clear focus. It just needs the dumping before an all knowing God all our fears, anxieties, worries, longings, ambitions, etc.

Question: Make a list of everything you can think of that could be included in the sort of prayer that is “pouring out”.

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