A Song for a Heavy Heart

song for heavy heart

I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift my voice to the LORD for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand, no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge, no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry for I am in desperate need;
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.
Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.

The Psalms in the Bible were written to be recited or sung as an act of worship to God. The Psalms were Jesus’ songbook! The hymn Jesus sang at the Passover meal was Psalms 113-118, (Matthew 26:30). Read Psalm 142 aloud and let the words wash over you. Picture Jesus singing these same words.

Psalm 142 is considered a song of lament or complaint. More than 40 of the 150 psalms in the Bible are psalms of lament. God is the ultimate complaint department! He invites us to pour out our frustrations to Him so He can act for us. The Psalms help us find comfort in God through lament and complaint, and gain new wisdom as we pray during these difficult times.

This psalm was written by David when he felt trapped and alone. He was being chased by King Saul who wanted to kill him, (1 Samuel 22:1). David found a cave for shelter and a place to hide from King Saul and his soldiers. The name of the cave was Adullam, which means, “refuge,” but it looks like a death trap to David (verses 3-4). I can imagine the cave was dark, and damp and scary even for a warrior like David. Psalm 142 is listed as a Maschil of David. A Maschil is written for instruction and teaching. This song teaches us how to pray in times of distress. Charles Surgeon, the famous preacher, said, “Caves have heard the best prayers.” The song shows us how wildly our emotions can fluctuate within the same circumstances. David is not ashamed to use the word “cry” three times. Verse 1 tells us he is praying out loud; “he is lifting his voice.” He is begging God to hear him, to care for him, to see his desperate need, and to rescue him. “I cry aloud,” literally means “I shriek.” The Hebrew term means “to bellow.” When we hit bottom, we feel this way, but to dwell on our misery only leads to deeper despair. I have found that my first step toward a solution is turning “to the LORD,” and “going before Him,” as David did (verse 1). Going to the LORD also means a thoughtful study of Scripture to allow God to speak to us through His Word. Scripture shows us that God is more holy, wise, and loving than we would ever imagine Him to be. This helps us to pray sincerely because we are speaking to a heavenly Father who speaks to us.

What cave are you hiding in today? What things are causing you worry and fear? You can shout them out loud, as David did. Be as raw as necessary. Don’t worry God has heard worse. He understands how we speak when we are desperate. In verses 5-6 David asks God to change his circumstances, “rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.” If you are experiencing health problems, pray now for healing. Are your children in a difficult situation? Pray for God to change the situation. Do you need a job? Ask God to provide the employment and income you need. Are you feeling anxious? Ask God to calm your fears.

Do you feel a sense of peace now that you have given your concerns to the One who can do something about them? Your attitude should now be like David’s in verse 7, “I will praise your name; the righteous will gather about me, because of your goodness to me.” Verse 7 also shows the importance of talking to other Christians about the problems we are experiencing. Asking the righteous to gather around us; and pray for us, is important because it strengthens our faith, and gives us the emotional support we need.

David must be rejoicing in heaven to see how his words have instructed and encouraged us. Deeper than danger and distress was his desire that God would be praised (verse 7). Take verse 3 as your promise for today: “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.” This verse is an expression of our confidence in God. Let this verse be your source of strength for this day.

Prayer: Father, the Bible tells us Jesus wept, so we must not be ashamed to cry. Yet He also prayed to you, his heavenly Father, and gave you his concerns. Show us how to bring our needs and emotions honestly to you and then leave them with you. Father, you love us more than we love ourselves. Help us to rest in that truth and not to worry. Amen.

Give Us Back the Joy” – Mark Hood


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