Is Your Soul In Prison?

Psalm 142

"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me." -Psalm 142:7

       Psalm 142 was written while David was in a cave, hiding.  We do not know exactly which cave, but probably either Engedi (1st Samuel 24:1-3) or Adullam (1st Samuel 22:2).  Regardless, king David was having a rough time.  This chapter of the Bible jumped out at me and encouraged my heart.  It was like reading my biography. 

 "I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.  I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. " -Psalm 142:1-2

This is what we should all do when troubles come, pour our our complaints to God.  The Hebrew word for "complaint" simply means "to pray, or communicate with God."  David was making a request to God.  Back in Moses' day, God was upset with the Israelites for complaining about the quality of the food they were being given.  As a matter of fact, they complained about nearly everything.  This was sin and God punished them for it (thousands died).  David however was complaining because someone was trying to kill him (a quite different situation), and David couldn't fight back (not against God's anointed, king Saul).  It's not wrong to complain to God about legitimate problems in our life, but God does not like when we don't appreciate what He has already provided for us.  David was not complaining in the sense of being unappreciative, David was asking God to deliver him from his "persecutors" (verse 6).  There is a big difference. 

I complain to God all the time, but not in a selfish way.  I complain about the iniquity in America, the injustice of Enron, the ecumenical movement, the abortion industry, the gambling casinos, the beer factories, the spiritual wickedness in high places, and just about everything else.  I ask God to bring justice and judgment back to our land.  I ask Jesus to strengthen the Christians across America and to burn a fire in their hearts to get busy for God.  There's is much we can all do to influence America for God.  I worry about people (especially Christians believers) who have no passion for truth and justice!   I don't know about you, but I want to make a difference  for God!  I'm really upset that so much corruption exists and nothing is being done about it (like $59 billion disappearing from HUD and then Bill Clinton pardons the man who was convicted for the crime).  That's tax-payer dollars being stolen!  The money was never recovered! 

I also sometimes complain to the Lord that heathens like rock star Ozzy Osborne are paid $20,000,000 contracts for being wicked, while God's righteous children struggle in factories to make ends meet.  The Holy Spirit always reminds me that everything which Jesus owns is mine also, and that I have salvation...which is worth more than all the riches in the universe.  Heaven belongs to those who die in the Lord, having their sins washed away by the precious blood of Jesus.  Ozzy has nothing because he doesn't have Jesus Christ, sad but true.  I am very rich indeed, for I have Jesus and His Word.  Jesus lives in my heart as the Holy Spirit of God.  We have so many blessings to be thankful for, even the air we breathe and take for granted.  I know that God is happy when sin makes His children angry, when we stand up for God and speak the truth (Psalm 94:16). 

Psalm 142 is special to me I mentioned, it is my biography...I have been there!

 "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.  In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me." -Psalm 142:3

David said his enemies had privily (secretly) laid a trap for him to step into.  I've had people do this to me before.  It's a very hurtful experience when someone cheats or hurts you, or when somebody spreads lies about you (or even worse, the truth).   People just love to gossip and tear-down other people.  Because I am a Christian, I've learned that some people will just sit in wait (as a predator), just waiting for you to stumble and mess up.  Then when you finally do stumble, they are overjoyed inside to go tell everyone what a great big hypocrite you are.  But do you know what?  They are the big hypocrite because they are the one doing the judging.  The hypocrite in Matthew 7 is not the person with the beam in his or her own eye, it's the person with the beam in their eye who casts judgment upon someone else's sliver.  Jesus was teaching that since we are ALL ditty-rotten sinners, no one has a right to judge another.  The fact is that we all have a beam in our eye, but most people only see the sliver. 

 "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.  In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me." -Psalm 142:3

Notice that David said he was "overwhelmed" inside.  Have you ever felt overwhelmed by emotions?  I have.  David says in Psalm 142:7 that his "soul was in prison."  Ever felt like your soul was in prison?, like you'd never get out of debt?, like life would never get any better?, like people were a lost cause?...I have.  People can really get you down sometimes (John 16:22).  There's been times in my life when I felt like all the walls were closing-in around me, like everything in the world was wrong.  I know what it's like to want to die, but you know you have to keep on living because you have a family who needs you.  And let me say, I was right with God during this time!  I was drawn more and more into the wondrous truths of God's Word.  I know God had a purpose in all this to prepare me for the burdens ahead.  You really don't understand the truth until you live the truth, when your at the bottom of life looking up.  The Bible comes alive when you feel like your dead.   Read how David felt in Psalm 55:6...

"And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest." -Psalm 55:6

David wished he could have grown wings and just flown away...ever been there?  There have been umpteen times in my life when I have felt this way.  Sometimes I'd just like to quit my job, take my family, and head for a nice warm island to live...with no bills, no city noises, no buses, no planes, no phone, no car, no people, no pollution, no bosses, no buildings, no knocks at the front door, no fishing licenses,  no taxes, no mail, etc.. 

If you've ever received that bad news at your front door, you know the fear that lingers every time you hear a knock at your door.  The same is true with the phone and the mail box.  I dread checking my mail, answering the door and the phone.  I've received enough bad news to last a lifetime.   What can we do?  I now check my mail only once every couple weeks...I forget about the mail.  I have a big mail box I built inside the door.  I don't let it control me, I check it when I feel like it. 

I have an answering machine, I keep my ringer down.   My time is MY TIME.  I have learned little ways to control the life which God has given me.  If you don't take control, you will have no life.  I worked midnights years ago and slept afternoons.  I turned the phone off every afternoon.  It worked great.  Sometimes you have to take drastic measures because people (especially your own family) will abuse you (even though they likely don't intend to).  I've learned to say "no" to people from church as well.  Just say "no."

You can't work in a church ministry all Saturday, you've got things that need to be done at the house.  People won't take no for an answer sometimes.  Most important, you owe it to your wife to watch the kids so she can get a much-needed break on must come before ministry.  If you can make time to serve in a ministry, that's great...but not at the expense of your family.  I could see why many people would like to grow wings and fly away as David wanted to.   Years ago, I was a bit discouraged and someone bought me an encouraging card.  The card said...

Any idiot can handle a crisis, it's this day-to-day living that gets me down.

I never forgot that card, and the above statement is a classic.  It's not the big things in life that wear us down, it's the mundane and routine things that wear us down.   David was tired, he was always looking over his shoulder.  David wanted to fly away from his problems, but he knew it wasn't possible.  David was discouraged, he felt like no one was his friend.  He was convinced that no one cared about his soul.  David couldn't find someone to give him refuge so he ended up in a cave.  Everyone was afraid to help David (just as most people today are afraid to help those in trouble).  No one wanted David around because they knew Saul was after him.

"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." -Psalm 142:4

David turned to the Lord God, which is always the best thing to do.

"I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living." -Psalm 142:5

David had many enemies, especially Saul.  What was David to do?  He had a problem that wasn't going to go away anytime soon.  Do you have any problems like that, I do.  There's just some burdens that I will have to live with for years to come.  I can only do so much as one human being, I cannot control the higher powers that be.  We are living in a wicked world.  DCFS tried to force our 11 year old daughter to take a dangerous drug (Depakote, a derivative of valproic acid).  I had to hire a lawyer to defend my family, I've already been billed for over $20, family will be in debt for years to come (and I'm the only one working).  I know how David felt when he just wanted to fly away. 

I have made phone call after phone call, but no man careth for my soul.  No one wants to get involved.  The media doesn't care, I've gone to several of them.  The state sure doesn't care.  I can't find a lawyer who thinks we have a case to sue DCFS.  Who has power against DCFS?  I went to the Lord and He will have to avenge us.  Our lawyer may be able to get us out of the system (hopefully), but only God can avenge us of the misery and sorrow DCFS and the Board of Education have caused my poor wife. 

She's been sick often because of all this, it's been going on for well over a year now.  Whatever the outcome, our daughter will not have to take any drug...but now were in a financial prison.  There are more burdens, but I'll spare you the detail.  I know how David felt...

"Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I." -Psalm 142:6

David was in an overwhelming situation.  He felt very low, betrayed, humiliated and broken.  David, who had killed a fierce lion with his bare hands!  David, who had slain the Philistine giant Goliath with a mere sling shot!  David, who had slain his ten thousands!  Now David finds himself hiding in a cave with no where to turn but to the Lord for help.  Sometimes, we will have no where to turn but to the Lord Jesus Christ for help.  David's soul was in a prison, he wanted out but saw no way of escape.

"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me." -Psalm 142:7

Is your soul in a prison?  Is your heart living in a dark cave of life?  Do you have burdens that your family and friends just can't help you with?  Have you come to the end of yourself?  I am there too my friend, be of good cheer, I am there too.  As David, I can only turn to my God in desperation and plead for deliverance from mine enemies.  David said in Psalm 142:6 that he had been "brought very low."  David cried unto the Lord.

 "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." -Hebrews 4:15-16

We have a wonderful promise from God in Hebrews 4:14-15.  Because we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, we have a God-purchased RIGHT to the throne of grace.  Jesus paid for this right.  We surely don't deserve it, but God loves us and has made this provision for us with His own blood which He shed for our sins.  Jesus is our High Priest Who intercedes for us in heaven.  God wants us to BOLDLY approach His throne of grace to obtain HELP in time of NEED.  God has promised to help us, but we must plead for His mercy.  God owes us nothing, we must petition God (make supplication) concerning our burdens.  If we are not arrogant and self-willed, He will help us.  God is real my friend, He sits upon His throne in heaven.  Through our spirit, we can stand before that throne if we will only pray. 

Prayer is a serious matter, be careful what you ask God.  If your soul is in prison, take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.  Cast your cares upon God (1st Peter 5:7).  If the burdens don't go away, hang in there because unshakable faith comes from having your faith shaken!  And what pleases God?  FAITH! (Hebrews 11:6).  So it is very true then that more problems in our life please God, because more problems cause us to have a stronger faith (which pleases God even more).  God is not pleased to watch us suffer, He is pleased that we don't give up on Him.  If you ask God for more faith, then you WILL be sent a multitude of new problems to build your faith.  This is why I say be careful what you pray.  God loves those of His children who hang in there no matter what happens.  I love this next verse.  Listen to what Job said...

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him." -Job 13:15

Job said, "I don't care if God kills me, I'm not going to give up!"  Job had a great faith!  So there is a silver lining to every burden, though it may not seem joyous at the moment.   Perhaps you ask, "Do you really believe all that?"  Yes I do, but I don't like it one bit.  I'd rather not have the burdens, but they're I might as well do what James said and count it all joy (a silver lining).  I hate problems!  Unfortunately, they keep coming one after the other. 

I'll say this though, if I hadn't carried the burdens which afflicted me years ago, I wouldn't have had the strength to bare the burdens I have now.  That makes me worry what burdens may come in the future, but I half to leave that in God's hands.  I am the Lord's and He has promised to encamp round about me to watch over me.  I wouldn't have learned all the Bible truths I've learned if I didn't have these burdens.  I also realize that my burdens are not as heavy as the burdens of many other people.  I am grateful to God!

 "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." -James 1:2-4

Has James lost his mind?  No, not at all!  The trials in our life will make us stronger if we hang in there for God.  Ever heard the saying, "That which does not defeat us only makes us stronger?"  This is true!  Many people turn to drugs, alcohol and sin when the rough times come.  What we need to do is seek closeness with the Lord.  We need to live in the Word of God.  We need to pray about everything.  Do you know what encourages me more than anything else when I'm discouraged, getting the gospel out.  The next time you are sad, leave a few tracks for someone to read. 

Create a website.  It was my own burdens which prompted me to start this website.  I spent months putting it together for the Lord.  I wanted to do something for God to cheer myself up.  I have found great peace in living for the Lord, despite all the problems.  I won a man to the Lord recently at work, and have been helping another to grow in the Lord.  That's what makes me happy, knowing that someone will be in heaven and I had a small part in leading them to Jesus.  God bless you, I hope this has helped you some.

~by David J. Stewart, June 2003