Psalm 13 is only six verses long. That’s about the equivalent of a short letter to a friend. Yet, there is so much that is packed into those six verses!
One question that arises after reading the psalm is why is it so short? What was David doing at the time? Was an enemy pursuing him, or was he in so much turmoil that he could only write a short psalm? One possible answer is that a short psalm may have been all he needed to express his plea. Maybe all he needed to do was place events in the right perspective, and arise with his faith in his God strengthened and renewed.
The first four verses of Psalm 13 are not very encouraging. An appropriate title would be, “How Long?” That question is repeated four times in the first two verses! Does that seem like a person of faith? Should we go “crying” to God because we are upset? Shouldn’t we endure and persevere?
Read the first two verses carefully. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” In times of trouble, when everything seems be going wrong, generation after generation of Christian men and women have gone to the Lord in prayer and asked those same four questions. For that matter, how often have YOU asked the same questions in prayer before the Almighty God and Father?
In the books of history of the Old Testament, David’s incredible faith was displayed many times. David was the only one who trusted God as Goliath challenged the Israelite army. David had been anointed by Samuel to be king, yet the fulfillment of that promise would not occur for many years. During that time, David trusted in God and waited on the Lord. He knew that eventually the promise would come true. After Absalom revolted, David placed his fate in the hands of the Lord. If God was with him, then he would return to Jerusalem in triumph. But if God was against him, then David said that the Lord could do to him what he wished. David was certainly a man of faith.
Many people, who read the history of David’s life, have envied that kind of strong faith. Many have wished, “Oh, why couldn’t I have been like David? If I was, I could have done so much for the Lord!” But, like all humanity, David was also thrown into despair and grief. His inner thoughts were laid bare in the Psalms that he wrote to the Lord. No, David was not a “superman”, and he was not some kind of “unworldly” figure. David was a man that we can relate to and learn from, because he lived, enjoyed, suffered, and cried just like all of us have done and are doing everyday of our lives.
In verses one through four, David poured out his anguish and petitions to God. Then, in a blink of an eye, his thoughts once again turned back to the one thing that he KNEW was the truth. “But I trust in your unfailing love.” THAT was the true reality for David. No matter how grim or dark it looked, David knew that God’s love was unfailing. All David had to do was get everything sorted out in his mind. He had to move what was obstructing his view so that he could look upon the goal of his life – “…my heart rejoices in your salvation.”
David’s psalm holds a very valuable lesson for us today. When trials surround us, we don’t have to endure everything with silence. Certainly, before the world, we are not to put on a big show of suffering. But before our Father and God, we CAN let our feelings and pain pour out. Why keep it in? Are we hiding it from God? No. He knows what we are experiencing, so why not express it in words? David did that many times.
Nothing says that we have to be a “John Wayne” before our Father. However, once those thoughts are expressed, we need to remember the true reality. The real is not this world, the REAL is God. That is where our focus needs to be.
Our Lord promised to help us in this life just like he helped David. Now, if God’s promise was true for a servant, one who was anointed with oil to be king; how much more are we loved and protected who are the adopted children of God – anointed with the Holy Spirit through our baptism into Jesus Christ? Think about that, and then echo David’s final words – “I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”