“I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me.”
David wrote this in a cave, stunned like a deer in the headlights. He must have had others around him; 1 Samuel 22 says he had over 400 followers and “he became their leader.” So was Psalm 142 written before the 400 gathered around him, when he was actually all alone, or was it written after he had a large following, and yet still felt all alone?
It doesn’t matter. “Alone” is a feeling.
I sit here this morning, alone, in the midst of friends and family and church. Alone in my sadness and despair. Alone in my feelings of futility and exhaustion. Alone in the feeling that I am hopeless… a wreck… unfixable.
Should others arise and weep with me? Yes… they should. I should be “one-anothered” and smothered by a huge army of saints. But will it be enough?
(I have two that have heard my cry and sat with me and mourned with me. I have “signaled” but the signals have not been heard by any but the two. Most likely because the signals are subtle “please read between the lines and see I am hurting.” But others feel as lonely as I do… and so the signals are missed. How unfair of me to expect otherwise.)
Two is not enough to bind the wounds. So… how many is enough? A whole Church? David had 400 mighty men… it was not enough.
“I poured out my complaint before him.” (v2)
Spurgeon says of this (and I’m not sure that I am full biblical agreement, but that’s beside the point): “When we complain it should not be before men, but before God alone…. [David] did not fall into the mistaken plan of so many who publish their sorrows to those who cannot help them.”
In this case… I feel the emotional truth of that statement. My complaint is sore… it is deep… it is not understood even by me. How can others understand it? All they can know, and all I can really know, is that I hurt. And others cannot take away that hurt. Telling them, at least in this case, “why” I hurt exacerbates the pain; it does not alleviate it.
I will cry out to the One who understands why I hurt, even when I don’t. I’ll say with David,
“Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.” (v5)
I choose to say and believe that my Heavenly Father hears my cry, and weeps with me and over me. I cannot control my emotions… they rather frighten me and are too powerful for me to tame. I choose to rest in the hands of the One who created my mind. He is the only safe place that my mind can run to.
Can I see another’s woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief,
And not seek for kind relief?
Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow’s share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?
Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no; never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
And can he, who smiles on all,
Hear the wren, with sorrows small—
Hear the small bird’s grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear,
And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring pity in its breast?
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant’s tear?
And not sit both night and day
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
He doth give his joy to all;
He becomes an infant small;
He becomes a man of woe;
He doth feel the sorrow too.
Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by;
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.
Oh! he gives to us his joy,
That our grief he may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone,
He doth sit by us and moan.
—William Blake (1757-1828), in “Songs of Innocence,” 1789.