Read: Psalm 13:1 – 2; Job 13:24; Psalm 44:24; Psalm 89:46; Lamentations 5:20; Isaiah 49:14 – 15
David expressed his feeling that the Lord had forgotten him and hidden His face from him. This psalm became especially meaningful to the Jews during the time of long exile, and later in the seemingly endless diaspora after the destruction of the Temple. The answer to the question “How long, O Lord?” may be so long it seems that God has forgotten, that He no longer cares.
Think About It: Have I ever felt forsaken by God? Does God ever actually forget those He regards as His children (Isaiah 44:21, 49:15; Psalm 27:10; Romans 11:29)? How can I be sure that God regards me as one of His children (John 1:12; Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26)?
Prayer: Praise God that He does not forget His children; that He remembers me.
Read: Psalm 13: 1 – 2; Isaiah 59:2; Micah 3:4; 1 Peter 1:7; 2 Corinthians 4:17
What causes this perception that God has forgotten? Psalm 13 raises the question, but does not provide the answer. Elsewhere in Scripture several answers are suggested. People will feel “God-forsaken” when they have forsaken God (Isaiah 59:2; Micah 3:4) through falling into sin through active rebellion, or through spiritual laxity and passive indifference to God.
Think About It: What is the remedy for feeling forsaken by God when the cause is sin in the life of the one who feels forsaken (James 4:7 – 10; Zechariah 1:3)?
Prayer: Lord, remember me!
Read: Psalm 13:1 – 2; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:17
Sometimes the feeling that God is distant arises in response to a time of testing. The tragedies that befell Job were the result of a cosmic debate between God and Satan, of which Job knew nothing. God never explained Himself to Job, and instead challenged him to trust in His goodness and wisdom, as evidenced in His creation. As believers in Christ, we have even greater reason to trust God, because He has demonstrated His love to us through the cross of Christ (Romans 5:8).
Think About It: According to 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Corinthians 10:13 (where “temptation” can also be translated “tested”), and 2 Corinthians 4:17, why does God permit us to be tested? What good things come from times of testing? What are some examples of the kinds of testing that believers face?
Prayer: Lord, don’t bring me to the test, but if You do, strengthen me that I might be found faithful.
Read: Psalm 13:3a; Psalm 4:1; Psalm 5:1; Psalm 25:18; Psalm 35:23; Philippians 4:6 – 7
Psalm 13 provides an example of how to deal with the perception that God has become distant and has forsaken us. The very nature of Psalm 13 provides the answer, because it is a song of prayer. We need to be reminded of the importance of prayer, because if we come to the place where we feel God has abandoned us, doesn’t see us, or doesn’t care for us, we don’t feel like praying. David’s regular practice of prayer carried him through those times when he didn’t feel like praying; he prayed unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17) regardless of his emotional state.
Think About It: What is my prayer life like? Is prayer habitual for me – do I “pray without ceasing” regardless of how I feel? How could I improve the practice of prayer in my life?
Prayer: Lord, please help me to keep on praying and never give up.
Read: Psalm 13:3b, 4; Ezra 9:8; Psalm 18:28; Psalm 19:8; Ephesians 1:18 – 20
David prayed specifically for God to light up his eyes. This seems to indicate that David knew his feeling of being forsaken by God was based on misperception. He needed to see things in a different light, in the light of God’s revelation. Paul prayed in a similar for the Ephesians when he asked of God that their spiritual eyes be illumined.
Think About It: What specific enlightenment did Paul ask for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1:18 – 20? What is the hope to which God calls me? What are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints that I can claim? What is the immeasurable greatness of His power that is available to me? What do I need to see in the light of God’s truth?
Prayer: Lord, illumine my spiritual eyes!
Read: Psalm 13:5; Psalm 6:4; Psalm 52:8; Isaiah 25:9
David continued his prayer by reflecting on the nature of God, affirming that he trusted in God’s “steadfast love.” God is characterized over ten dozen times in the Psalms by the Hebrew word chesed, translated in most modern English translations as “steadfast love,” but in older English versions as “lovingkindness” and in the Greek translation of the Hebrew bible as “mercy.” It is not in God’s nature to be heedless of the troubles of his children.
Think About It: How can reflection on the nature of God as revealed in Scripture, and as we have experienced in our lives, help us in times of great trial? What was David looking forward to being able to do, according to Psalm 13:5b? An interesting fact: the Hebrew word translated “salvation” in Psalm 13:5 is yeshua – which is the name the angels instructed Mary and Joseph to give to Mary’s child. In English, it is Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, no matter what my circumstances, I rejoice in your steadfast love and salvation in Jesus!
Read: Psalm 13:6; Exodus 15:1; Psalm 116:7; Psalm 119:7; Psalm 142:7; Ephesians 3:20 – 21
Psalm 13, which begins on a very gloomy note, ends with a song of praise. Nothing about David’s circumstances had changed during the course of this brief psalm, but his prayer to God, his affirmation of trust in God, His reflection on God’s nature, all combined to produce a change of attitude and a new confidence that God would deal bountifully with him.
Think About It: Does worship and singing help to lift my spirits and help me to sense God’s presence? What aspects of worship are especially helpful to me? What revives my spirit when I am feeling down and distant from God? What would it look like for me, if I should be feeling like David expressed he felt in Psalm 13:1, to move from Psalm 13:1 to Psalm 13:6?
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep looking up, to keep on praising, to keep on singing.