John T. Willis

Monday, July 14, 2014

Struggling with God's Apparent Absence--Psalm 13

Psalm 13 is very brief. It contains only six verses. The superscription says: "To the leader. A Psalm of David." This gives one no information about the situation under consideration. The psalmist of Psalm 13 is struggling with the apparent absence of God. Verses 2 and 4 indicate that the psalmist has enemies who look forward to the downfall of the psalmist. Psalm 13 naturally falls into three parts.

I. Difficulties in life seem to never end. Psalm 13:1-2.
   a. Psalm 13 begins with the emotional question "How long?" This occurs FOUR times in verses 1-2, which appears in every line except one. The cry "How long?" presupposes that the psalmist has been in the present situation for a VERY LONG TIME, not recent.
   b. The psalmist ponders to God: Will you forget me forever? Apparently, he has prayed to God often but apparently God has not responded. He assumes that God has "forgotten" him or "forsaken" him. This thought stands in bold contrast to Joshua 1:5, in which God promises: "I will not fail you or forsake you." 13:1a.
   c. Then the psalmist asks: How long will you "hide your face" from me? The expression: God hides his face usually mean that he turns away from people to leave people to their own fate. See Psalms 10:11; 22:24; 27:9. 13:1b.
   d. The psalmist declares that he bears pain in his soul and has sorrow in his heart all day long. His enemy is thriving and thus is exalted over the psalmist. 13:2.

II. The Psalmist turns to God in Prayer. Psalm 13:3-4.
     a. The psalmist now addresses God directly, "O Lord my God." He petitions Yahweh to ANSWER his prayer and give light to his eyes. If Yahweh does not respond, the psalmist feels that he will certainly die. 13:3.
     b. On top of this, the psalmist explains that in his present depressed condition, his enemy will assume, "I have prevailed" against the psalmist, and he will rejoice because the psalmist is shaken. 13:4.

III. The Psalmist resolves to trust in God. Psalm 13:5-6.
      a. The psalmist turns to God's "steadfast love." "Steadfast love" is a prevailing theme throughout the Psalter. The psalmist declares that he "trusted in" God's steadfast love. Therefore, the psalmist's heart will "rejoice" in Yahweh's salvation. He is certain that God will appear and deliver the psalmist from his present affliction. 13:5.
      b. The psalmist resolves to "sing" to Yahweh "because" Yahweh has dealt bountifully with the psalmist in the past. What God has done God can do. 13:6.

Share YOUR concerns and situations and failures and successes and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis 


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