The next psalm in the series of psalms in chronological order is Ps. 142. Just like Psalm 57, it was written when David was hiding away from his enemies in a cave.
The big feeling I get out of this psalm is that David was feeling pretty trapped.
In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me. . .
rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.
David knew if he stepped out of the cave, his adversaries were poised to capture or kill him.
He felt overwhelmed, cornered, confined, like there was no place to turn.
Sound familiar? I can certainly relate. Sometimes I don’t like the situation I’m in, but I can’t see a way out. I can’t see a good option. It feels horrible. I cry out to God, “How could you put me here?”
But David also says this one thing in verse 3 that is so heart lifting:
When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!
I did a little Hebrew word study of this phrase. First, it reads, “my spirit faints.” Some translations word this as “When I was overwhelmed.” It definitely carries a feeling of being weak and powerless, of wanting to give up because the odds seem so great.
Next, it says that God knows the way. The word for “know” here is “yada.” Yada is more than just a head knowledge. Yada is knowing by experience. You can look at a map and say you “know” the way. But once you drive it over and over again, you “yada” the way. You can “know” someone if you’ve met them. But if you’ve spent a lot of time together, you “yada” them.
Finally, the verse says God knows the way. To me, this isn’t just like God knows our path. It’s like God knows our Path with a capital “p,” his route for us.
Putting this all together, it’s like God has a course marked out for us that he’s intimately familiar with, because he’s designed each turn and ascent. It’s also like God knows us through and through, and custom made this course just for us.
So it gives me a lot of comfort to think that when I am overwhelmed and feel like there’s no good way to turn, I’m actually in the place God put me. I’m on a road to somewhere good, I just can’t see it. It’s scary, but it’s not scary to God. He knows exactly where he’s taking me.
I’ve been listening to a series of messages by John Lusk on “Increase Our Faith.” He talks about how we all come to points in our life when the way forward seems impossible. At that point, we can either compromise our convictions or pray, as Jesus’s disciples did, “Increase our faith!”
Prayer bridges the gap between impossible and possible. It puts our hand in God’s hand, so he can show us the way he has planned for us.
You know, Psalms 142 is one of the psalms that is actually named in the notes as a prayer. In the whole thing, David is telling God that he feels trapped, but he believes God knows the way forward. And we know now that God did take David forward to use him in great ways. The Messianic line was established through him.
God knows the way forward for us as well. He has dreams for us. He has plans and designs because he formed us. He knows us inside and out, and knows how to use us in great ways.
We just need to hold tightly to him and say, “My spirit is faint within me, but you know my path!”