The text is presented as a prayer by David at the time he was hiding in the cave (part of the David and Jonathan narrative in the Books of Samuel). It is, consequently, used as a prayer in times of distress.
"I cry aloud to the Lord;
I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
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.”
In Catholic liturgy, this psalm (also known by its Latin incipitVoce mea ad Dominum clamavi) has been recited at Vespers since the Middle Ages. According to the Rule of St. Benedict (530), this psalm traditionally appeared on Friday night. In the current Liturgy of the Hours, this psalm is recited on Saturday Vespers in the first week of the cycle of four weeks. This psalm is known to have been recited by Saint Francis of Assisi on his deathbed.