Psalms 142 was apparently written while David was hiding in the caves presumably from Saul unless that type of hiding happened at other times in his life. This was obviously a difficult time for him, and I can only imagine the stress that running for his life created. He knew that he needed to look for divine assistance because relying on himself or other people wasn’t working out all that well.
Psa 142:4 I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
Psa 142:5 I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
I am not going to say that I have experienced this level of human abandonment. I know that there are people that care about me, and I am incredibly grateful for that. However, I think that the general premise applies across the board.
Even if we have these people who care about us, they still cannot care about us on the level that God does. The difference is that people cannot be our refuge. Other people are not watching over the entire world. Sure, our friends and family can come alongside us and support us when we have difficult times. They can encourage us, and they can love us. I don’t want to diminish that whatsoever. That is a very important thing that we are called to do for one another.
However, God is different. He has the power to do what no human can do. He also has the perspective to see what we might not be able to see. For example, I know that it is a cliché, but I do believe that difficult times can be used by God to make us better people. I think that we learn through trials. We might not understand everything at the time, but as the eternal God, He is able to help us through that time and teach us what we ought to learn.
Again, I don’t think I have experienced the entire abandonment that David had felt in this Psalm, but despite that, I think we can all relate to the sentiment. Having a relationship with God is different than having a relationship with other people.
I have heard that some people fall away from Christianity because they feel like God must have abandoned them or really doesn’t care about them. They feel like if there really was a God in heaven, surely He wouldn’t allow these bad things to happen.
In Psalms 42, it is obvious that David (he is assumed to be the writer) could relate to having difficult times.
Psa 42:9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
This is an interesting verse. David does indeed feel like God has forgotten them. I don’t know exactly when he wrote this chapter, but if you remember when we walked through the story of his life, he had plenty of difficulties along the way. I know that he certainly did make bad decisions along the way, and there is no way that he was perfect, but he also was very concerned with following God as well. He was called a man after God’s own heart.
He did wonder where God was, and he apparently did feel like he was abandoned at times.
That’s not the end of the story for David though. He did not give up on God even though he felt like God was pretty far away. Look at what happens a few verses later.
Psa 42:11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Even though he isn’t exactly happy at the moment, and even though he feels like God has forgotten him, he reminds himself that he still does believe in God.
You might say that this is simply wishful thinking, or you might say that he is simply brainwashed. However, I think that we can learn something from people who hold to their faith even when times get difficult. There is some reason that they don’t feel abandoned by God, and even if they don’t understand what is going on, they continue to trust in God.
Like I said above, you can write this off if you want to, but it just might be possible that there is something else going on here besides outright delusion. Perhaps these people have found something that perhaps is hard to explain and is not physical but is still comforting. They had found a reason to continue believing even though the world might wonder how on earth they could still believe. They have found something real and true.
I think that this post will probably resonate a lot more with my Christian friends, but I hope that we all can think about this question a little bit more. Why is it that many people are able to continue believing in God even though times are incredibly difficult? Read some of their testimonies and see what they say.