English Basic Explanation - Chapter 142
The first verse of Psalm 142 identifies this chapter as a prayer composed by David "in the cave," a reference to the incident recorded in the Book of Shemuel I (chapter 24) when David hid from King Shaul inside a cave in the region of En Gedi. Shaul at one point even entered the cave, but did not discover David. This chapter records the prayer David prayed during those particularly tense moments in his life. (This is in addition to chapter 57, which presents a different prayer that David recited on this occasion.)
As we would expect, this prayer expresses the dread and anxiety David experienced at this time, as he describes himself as crouched and faint, overcome by fear and tension ("Be'hit'atef Alai Nafshi" – verse 4). In verses 5-6 David speaks of how he searched high and low for an escape route, or at least for some ally or sympathetic third party upon whom to pin his hopes of survival, but he found no one. His only option, then, was to cry to God and declare, "Ata Mahsi" ("You are my refuge"), acknowledging that the Almighty represents the only means of escaping the current crisis.
In this Psalm's final verse David prays to God to release him from the "Masger," which literally means "enclosed place." On one level, of course, he refers to the cramped, dark, dreary cave to which he was confined. Additionally, however, this term perhaps describes the experience of hopelessness, the feeling of being permanently condemned without any possibility of escape. David here teaches us that under such circumstances of "Masger," when we feel locked and confined to a harsh, difficult reality, we can and must turn to the Almighty and rely on His ability to extricate us from crisis. Regardless of how narrow and threatening the "cave" is, God is able and willing to remove us from our troubles and provide the relief and assistance we so desperately need.