Psalm 13:1–6 (ESV) — 1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 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? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
David certainly had his enemies. And so do we. But no enemy is greater, more ruthless, more subtle, dangerous and relentless than our own indwelling sin. And when we read the Psalms that treat of David’s enemies, it is good for us to think in terms of our great enemy of sin in drawing from those Psalms something of the instruction and comfort they are meant to give us.
In this short Psalm, there is an interesting pattern: Three “how long”‘s followed by three counterpoints.
1. How long? / But I have trusted. 2. How long? / My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 3. How long? I will sing to the Lord for He has dealt bountifully.
This is the prayer of one who has made sin and iniquity his enemy – and is engaged in their overthrow. When the battle against indwelling sin rages high, it may seem as though God has forgotten us in our struggle. And it can seem as though His presence is hidden. It can seem like an eternity we’ve been battling and that our inward dialog is one of perpetual sorrow. And that the enemy has triumphed over us.
Yet once again, the Psalmist (like we) pleads for God to consider his case. He pleads for light in the darkness and deliverance from what is too strong for him. And that light comes immediately the counterpoints to his laments.
How long? I don’t know. But this I will remember – I’ve trusted in YOUR steadfast love, not my own.
How long? I don’t know. But I will direct my heart to rejoice in your salvation by grace nevertheless.
How long? I don’t know. But I will sing to you Lord, for battle or no, set-backs or no, trials or no, in Jesus Christ you have dealt bountifully with me. Your grace is greater than my sin. Jesus’ blood is sufficient for all my guilt. And so I will worship you – no matter how long this battle lasts.
Father God – give me David’s heart.