David uses the phrase “no one” three times in verse 4 of the 142nd Psalm. This verse is also the middle verse of the psalm. Since Hebrew literature often puts the central message in the center, we should start with this verse and then see the message that radiates out from the center.
In this middle verse, David realizes that no earthly help can sustain him:
- no one is at my right hand with any strength to lend to me
- no one is truly concerned for my wellbeing
- no one can help my eternal soul
Radiating out from this middle verse we see…
- …God, You watch over me, and You are my refuge (vv. 3, 5)
- …I pour out my complaint to You, God, and You listen and respond to me (vv. 2, 6)
- …God, I cry to You for mercy, and You set me free from my prison (vv. 1, 7)
I find it interesting that David calls it “my prison.” David has learned that God may allow affliction and shaking so that he will see that there is only One who is reliable and stable. Trusting in anything or anyone else becomes, in essence, a prison.
In verse 7, David mentions God’s “goodness to me.” Sometimes this word for goodness is translated “bountiful,” and it comes from a Hebrew word that can mean “to be weaned.” David is sharing with us that our afflictions can wean us from all human help so that we can fully enjoy the bountiful goodness of our loving God!
When it appears that there is no one around to help me, that is actually a good thing.
It’s a good thing because it means that now that everything else has been cleared out of my way, I can clearly see The Only One that truly cares about me both today and forevermore!