Surrounded by people… and lonely


Psalm 142:1 With my voice I cry to the LORD; with my voice I make supplication to the LORD. 2 I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. 3 When my spirit is faint, you know my way. In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. 4 Look on my right hand and see— there is no one who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for me.

This psalm is attributed to David “when he was in the cave”. It most likely refers to the Cave of Adullam, where David fled as he was being hunted by King Saul. Saul was the very first king of Israel, but God found him unfaithful and so planned to replace him with David. When Samuel the prophet told Saul this was the case, Saul tried to have David killed – so David ran. He eventually found himself hiding out in the Cave of Adullam with no escape. But he wasn’t alone. Other men had joined with David to support him, though not necessarily the kind of men you’d want:

1 Samuel 22: 2 Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.

So this psalm found David with nowhere else to run, accompanied by 400 men of questionable repute, praying that Saul’s men didn’t find him – because if they did they’d have killed him. So given all of this background, v.4 is what really jumps out at me.

4 Look on my right hand and see— there is no one who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for me.

What I hear in this verse is a man who felt very lonely. Yes there were people with him, but their motives were questionable. It’s likely at least some of them were hoping David would survive to become king at which time they would expect to be rewarded for their support. I suppose that’s something, but it’s not love – as David points out in v.4 “no one cares for me”.

Logically one could point out that David was surrounded by hundreds of men ready to protect him, and that would technically be correct. But he FEELS alone. He has no experience of affection. Of love. Logic be damned.

I have known that feeling before, of being surrounded by people yet feeling utterly alone. I’ll bet you have too. Maybe that’s how you’re feeling right now. If so, I believe there’s something for us to learn from David in this passage.

When David was feeling desperate and alone he turned to God. Over and over and over.

Lord send your spirit to touch lonely people today – even those surrounded by other people. Give peace and hope to your beloved. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


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