Psalm 13

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 4, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
” (Psalm 13)

Have you ever been told that it’s not okay to question God? God is perfect and holy, after all, and we’re just sinful human beings, so who are we to question the Almighty God?

But here’s the thing: Scripture is God’s holy truth written to us, and we see David questioning God in this psalm. David isn’t showing a lack of faith by questioning God, but he’s expressing his true and deep emotions to his God in this psalm. It’s not a sin to be in despair and question what God is doing in your life; it’s a call for us to trust Him more.

When David writes, “How long will you hide your face from me?” in verse 1, he knows that God is not truly hiding from him. Throughout Scripture, we see that wording of God hiding His face indicates the people being cursed, whereas God’s face shining on them indicates blessing (such as in Numbers 6:25-26).

The repetition of the four “how long” questions of verses 1-2 show the intensity of David’s emotions in asking God what’s going on in his life. There’s even an emphatic ending on those words in the Hebrew text. Through these questions, David expresses his despair. He feels utterly alone because of the anguish in his life. We don’t know what situation was going on in David’s life when he wrote this, but it’s clear that he is deeply troubled by a number of things: his thoughts, his emotions, and those around him.

But instead of dwelling on those negative thoughts, emotions, and situations, David turns to God in prayer in verses 3-4. Just in verse 3, David gives 3 commands to God: look, answer, and give light. While we cannot control God, we can implore Him to do things on our behalf. Asking God to look on him is asking for God to bless Him, which goes along with being in despair that God had appeared to turn His face away. The “light to my eyes” that David is asking for is also an expression of asking for blessing, the opposite of being cursed as in death.

If David were to die (which may not necessarily mean physical death but simply a lack of blessing from God), then his enemies would triumph and they would not see God’s glory portrayed in that situation. If David’s enemies win, then they won’t acknowledge God as God; if God triumphs and blesses David in spite of the situation, then God will be glorified in it.

While it appears that David is praying for God to bless him purely for selfish reasons, he is also asking God to protect His honor and show His glory in this situation. While David may be in deep despair, he knows that even in our misery, God can and will be glorified.

Even though David is experiencing this deep anguish and calling out to God to save him, he still trusts in God’s love and salvation. Verses 5-6 show us how he continues to hold onto that promise from God no matter what, even in what seems like the darkest situation.

The Hebrew word translated as “unfailing love” in verse 5 is the word hesed, which really has no good meaning in English. It’s like a perfect combination of God’s perfect love, mercy, grace, and kindness, all wrapped up into one. Hebrew typically doesn’t include the pronoun with a verb, such as the “I” in “I trust,” since it’s included with the verb, but here we see the pronoun “I” present, meaning it’s emphatic. Even though David is going through all these bad things, he is emphasizing how much he is truly putting his trust in God’s hesed (love, mercy, grace, kindness) no matter what!

The “salvation” referred to in verse 5 is not necessarily meant in terms of life and death, but it refers to the well-being of God’s children. David wants to know for certain that God cares for him, will give him victory over his enemies, and will help him tame the thoughts and emotions he’s experiencing. David rejoices when God shows His Fatherly care for him in these ways. His situation may not change right away, but he still praises God for caring for him through all things. Even if things don’t seem good in life, David still praises God for His goodness.

What are you going through in your life that seems like you’re in the depths of despair? Are you able to echo David’s words in this psalm in any way? It’s okay to question God and ask Him to give us answers to what’s going on in our lives that may not make sense to us; that will deepen our relationship with Him. But like David, when your negative thoughts and emotions seem to getting the best of you and overwhelming your life, turn to God in prayer. Remember what God has done for you. Ask God to be glorified in your life and your circumstances. Most importantly, praise Him in and through all things!

Like Katie’s writings? You can purchase her book What the Bible Says About... here!

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