Meditations on the Psalms – Week 3: Psalm 13 – Lament

Stewart Fenters Devotional, Meditations on the Psalms

Like most people, I like quick fixes. If I am sick, I want to know the fastest avenue to wellness. If there is an issue, I want to quickly find a solution and move on. I don’t think I’m alone in this kind of thinking. It’s logical, right? While these may seem like perfectly natural responses to uncomfortable situations, I think the deeper issue is the natural human aversion to suffering and our deep desire for an answer when life doesn’t seem to be going in the exact way we intended.

Psalms of Lament, like this week’s psalm, are hard to read and difficult to pray. Psalm 13 remind us of the brokenness of our surroundings and the brokenness of our own lives. Sometimes we feel abandoned or that God does not care about our situation. We feel alone and it seems like our enemies are winning all the battles. This psalm, and others like it, give us “permission” to cry out to God in these times. We can say with boldness, “How long is this going to last?” and “Are the enemies really going to win?” Eugene Peterson paraphrases it this way: “Long enough, God!” Though it may seem like an odd thing to say to an almighty and all-powerful God, we are encouraged to do so. Keep in mind that Jesus himself prays a similar kind of prayer in the Garden before he was betrayed and crucified (Matt. 26:36-46).

God, in his infinite and perfect compassion, welcomes our lament. He desires for us to come to him with all of our emotions and bring our issues to his feet. The storm may be raging around us but we are invited to expression our pain and suffering as we fix our eyes on the One who helps us.

We aren’t left hopeless in our discouragement. Like many Psalms of Lament, this one includes a turn at verse 5:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
 I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Were all of David’s problems resolved in a timely manner? Probably not. Yet we do know that even if David’s external situation did not improve, his spirit was moved to a posture of rejoicing and singing because of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love.

May this Psalm give you permission to cry out to the Lord, to ask “Why?” and “How long?” and to find hope and peace in God’s love for you.

Psalm 13 (ESV)

How Long, O Lord?

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Read the rest of the Meditations on the Psalms series.