Psalm 142

Ali Witte

 

Text

[1] I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
[2] I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.
            [3] When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way.
            In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me.
            [4] Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me.
            I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.

            [5] I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
            [6] Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need;
            rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
            [7] Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.
            Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.

 

Inner-voice Commentary*

[1] I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
[2] I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Latika. Do You see these tears rolling down my cheeks tonight? Every night? I’m in some serious trouble, and You’re the only one I can turn to, Lord! If I even speak to these men who come every night, let alone tell them how scared or battered I feel, they’ll beat me. They might even kill me. I’m literally fighting for my life. Why haven’t You intervened? I know You’re out there… somewhere… just not here, not in the slums of Delhi. Lord my soul still has a pulse. It’s meager, weak. But You can still save me.

[3] When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way.
My “spirit” is still in me somewhere… but I don’t know how much longer I can make it. Show me the way out of here! According to Your Word, You know my way. Why can’t You give me a glimpse of it in my most desperate moments, or even before I die? I will surely die in this place if You do not sustain my spirit…

[4] Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
It’s dark here. I feel disgusting. It’s been weeks since I’ve showered; these men’s body fluids have dried on my skin, their stickiness a constant reminder of my humiliation and dirtiness. Oh my God, I’m so dirty!! I’m going insane… They keep me in a cage until they want to use me. Then they come… they always come at night. Sometimes they come in groups. I can’t hide from them in this cage. They tell me to do things I never wanted to do… they hurt me… I’m too young for this! Sometimes at night when I can’t sleep I think about the last time I felt I had a “refuge;” it was when Dev and I were with Mom in the marketplace in Jaipur. Jaipur. Home. That was the last time I saw my family… then the men grabbed me in the market; they came out of nowhere. Mom told me to do what I was told, and that maybe I would see her again some day if I did. I can’t help wondering if she set me up... did she know they were coming? I think horrible things about her sometimes. How could she let them just take me?? Why did she keep Dev and not me?? I know You were there that day, too. I was so scared that I urinated in my sari, and they beat me for not being able to control myself. They left me bloodied on the floor for hours before they raped me for the first time. Look to my right, Lord! Damnit! Can’t you see I’m dying?!! Do it! Look to my right!! At least give me a sign that You’re there! That You’re listening! I feel like You don’t even care for my life…

[5] I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
[6] Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
Apparently my tears don’t make a difference to You. I’M SO MAD AT YOU, GOD! Am I not in desperate need??! WHERE ARE YOU???! Even in my desperation I have not turned to our family deities to ask for help… I’ve stayed faithful to You! Is it not Your turn? Is this not injustice that is happening? Aren’t You a God of justice??! I fit the description in the verse, God; I’m crying, I’m desperate, I need You to rescue me from these “strong” men who violate my basic human rights… I’m in the “land of the living” but I’m barely hanging on… Will You care if I die tonight and see You face-to-face?? What will You say to me then?? WHAT WILL YOU SAY TO ME THEN?! Will You explain to me how You abandoned me?? No, no… there will be nothing to say…

[7] Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
I’m imprisoned by these men, by my anger, by my pain. I’m completely trapped, exhausted, dying. “Praise” You, God? “Praise” You? No way! Not until You set me free… not until I get out of this cage. God please… with all I have within me… please… come for me. Rescue me. If You don’t do it, who will?? But if You come… I will know that You heard me tonight… that You’ve heard me every day that I’ve cried out to You. Be good to me; save me like You did the author of this Psalm. If You don’t do it, who will??



* When I went to India last year, I saw girls in cages on the sex market… that’s where this character came from. Seeing those girls significantly impacted me… I just couldn’t get this character out of my head. I had to give her a voice.