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Reflections

The Honesty of Psalm 13

Psalm 13 is a short passage of scripture consisting of just six verses. However, within these few verses David is not afraid to be very honest with God.

He starts the psalm by saying:

O Lord, how long will you forget me? For ever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” (v1-2)

David is in a desperate situation in this psalm. This leads him to question for how long God will forget him. When will this feeling go? Is there a possibility that it will never go and he will be forgotten for ever?

The man who has enjoyed deep fellowship with God feels that the Lord is now looking the other way. There is an anguish within his soul and his heart is sorrowful. This is not just an occasional feeling but one he is experiencing every day. Imagine having to face this day after day. David wants to know when this will stop.

His enemy has the upper hand over him and he wants to know when this will change. How much longer must he endure the oppression he is currently suffering?

In the middle two verses of the psalm he prays:

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, ‘We have defeated him!’ Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.” (v3-4)

In his anguish though David does not give up on God. He continues to call out to God. Even though he has previously questioned for how long he will be forgotten, David still cries out to God . He knows that God is his only hope in his current situation. If God does not restore him then he will die. He is literally in a life or death situation. It’s as simple as that! Only God can rescue him.

David does not want his enemies to gloat over his defeat and rejoice over his downfall. He is fully aware that the stakes are high.

He concludes the psalm with the words:

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.” (v5-6)

The mood of the last two verses is in complete contrast to the rest of the psalm. We are not told why there is a sudden change in David’s outlook. Did God dramatically intervene between verses 4 and 5 in a miraculous way to rescue him? Perhaps David took a step back and looked at his situation again but this time through the eyes of God? Or maybe he remembered his past deliverance and trusted God afresh?

Whatever the answer to that question is David is able to declare that he trusts in God’s unfailing love. He has complete confidence in this love. The love that is trustworthy. The love that is reliable. The love that will not let him go. The love that is sufficient for him in this situation.

Furthermore, he is able to rejoice that God has rescued him. His victory is entirely down to God. This leads to him singing to God. David sings because he knows that God is good to him.

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