Psalms Chapter 13

Psalms Chapter 13 #Trust #Healing #Lost #Depression

(Unless otherwise cited all scripture in this devotional is from the King James Version. I use this version because many people prefer to study from this specific version.)

Context

The psalter is experiencing feelings of abandonment. Not by people but by God. The words “how long” are repeated and leads the reader to believe that this is not a matter of why have you been abandoned by God but instead for how long will you abandon me oh God. The title of the Psalm identifies David as its author. The title also leads to the reader to wonder what circumstance in David’s life leads him to lament this psalm of desolation. As with other laments by the psalmist one sees the time period of the lament in verses 1-2. Then verses 3-4 shows the desperate plea for a reunion between the psalter and his God. As always the psalmist ends the lament with a demonstration of trust and confidence in God’s love, his assurance of salvation, and a word of praise for his relationship with The Almighty. David indeed led a tumultuous life. His laments are indicative of the hills and valleys of his relationship with Yahweh. God’s people experience those same periods of hills and valleys.

1(To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.) How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 

Longman qualifies the feelings of the psalter by stating how he feels.

The first asks whether God will forget him forever. To forget in the Hebrew Bible is not a purely cognitive act. To remember is to act positively towards someone; to forget is the opposite: to withhold help and comfort. In the second colon, the psalmist asserts that God has hidden his face from him. He has made himself absent from the life of the psalmist (Longman 2014, 95).

This expression of abandonment is not germne to just David. Jesus expressed the same thing in Matt. 27:46. God never abandons His people. It does not matter how long, how deep, how comprehensive, or how extensive the feeling of abandonment may feel He has never nor will ever abandon His children. The author of Lamentations 5:20 expressed the same sentiment as David.  Wherefore dost thou forget us forever, and forsake us so long time?”  Psalm 9:18 reminds us that the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.” So what exactly is the reason for David’s despair? When we feel abandoned by God what is the reason for our despair? Do you remember the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” In your personal experience of abandonment who moved the relationship marker? You or God?

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

David is taking counsel in his soul. He is praying, studying what access he has to God’s word, but his heart is still sorrowful! What could have brought him to this emotional impasse? Who could be assaulting his soul so much that he is on his last leg? Longman proposes that David feels as if God is absent from his life (Longman 2014, 96).  Verse 1  addresses one scenario of how long. Verse 2 speaks of another how long. The emotional turmoil that the psalmist is feeling is not just one of desperation, it is also one of separation from God. However, the second how long identifies the presence of an enemy. Some theologians assert that David is making reference to Saul compare (See Psalms 7:2, 5; 11-16; 8:2; 9:6, 16; 10:2-11, 15; 11:5). Thus, it is to God, not the enemy, that the appeal to stop is directed. Have you ever felt like you were surrounded by enemies and God was not hearing you? How did you resolve this situation? Was God trying to tell you something? Teach you something? Stretch you in preparation for something. Or was He using your situation to bring to light a spiritual problem that exists in your organization or even church? If I have learned nothing over the last few months it is this. Just because a person has a title, it does not mean that they have the spiritual growth commensurate with that title. Sometimes, you will be His instrument to bring to the forefront the challenges that folks are facing and must face. He is an on-time God who is not a respecter of persons. What is good for one is good for the other. So, don’t be faint. Don’t give up. I had to tell myself that very same thing this past week.  I have a short fuse when it comes to lies, deception, and confusion. I don’t want to be associated with any of that. I am not unforgiving, but my level of expectation for myself and others is probably too high. David just did not want to be in that scenario any longer, and he just didn’t understand why God was not doing something about it. But look at verses 3 and 4!

3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

Verse 3 is literally telling God to think about and listen to the psalter.  This is not just a verse of despair. This is a verse that shows depression to the point of death. Barnes concurs. Barnes explains

So we pray to one who turns away from us as if he were not disposed to hear, and as if he cared nothing about us. Lighten mine eyes. The allusion here is, probably, to his exhaustion, arising from trouble and despair, as if he were about to die. The sight grows dim as death approaches; and he seemed to feel that death was near. He says that unless God should interpose, the darkness would deepen, and he must die (Barnes 1898, 155).

Furthermore, the psalmist reiterates what Moses said when God told him that he should step aside while he wipes Israel out because of their blatant disobedience. Exodus 32:10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.”

Now, remember Moses’ response?  Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people” (Exodus 32:12-14). 

Have you ever experienced the glee of someone when they thought that you were being wrung out by your supervisor? The happiness in their eyes is a stab in your soul. Your spirit drops and the breath that you are breathing feels as if it is going to cease. That is how David was feeling here.  He thought that he had to remind God that He had as much to lose as David did. God’s integrity would be called into question.

It is essential that we remember this if nothing else from this study. When the heathen or even our enemies rejoice in what they believe is our demise they are rejoicing at an action that may well be the opposite of God’s intention. Trust Him anyway to work it out! When people listen to gossip-there was no reason for Saul to hate David or to seek his death-it had to be because He knew that a new king was appointed for Israel. But even David’s brothers were gossiping about him. 

1 Samuel 17:28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? And with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.”

Really? You might be thinking! But it is a fact that people will only accuse others of behavior that they would carry out themselves. It was the brothers and Saul’s inferiority complex they resulted in their suspicions of David.  He had broken his bond with God. Not David. Nothing David did resulted in Saul and his seed losing their position of royalty. 

But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Even though David felt alone, he still trusted the Lord.  His confidence was never in any human being. It was never in himself and his ability to do the job. One of my personal pet peeves, when people talk to me, is the appeal to my intellect. That means nothing to me if I am not operating in “His” love.

How do we know that David still had nothing but confidence in His deliver and warrior King? He stated, “I have trusted in thy mercy.”  His heart “rejoice in thy salvation.”  He be;ieved in the works of righteousness.

David is not speaking about the salvation that he will receive in the future.  This is a present tense verb for him. Because of this never-ending relationship of trust between David and God he ends the psalm with a positive statement of trust and praise.

 “I will sing [worshhip my Lord] unto the LORD, [WHY?] “because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” David acknowledges the covenant relationship that God has with him and his people. He knows that he will never leave them nor forsake them.  In your time of aloneness, desperation, and feelings of abandonment when people have bruised your emotions to the point where you just want to QUIT! Remember this psalm.

 

 

References

Barnes, Albert. 1868. NOTES, CRITICAL, EXPLANATORY, AND PRACTICAL ON THE BOOKS OF PSALMS, Google Books.

Longman, Tremper, III. 2014. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. Accessed August 15, 2018. Google Books.

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