Trusting in God’s Mercy

Psalm 13

Mindset among some: say whatever is on your mind to God. If you’re sad, tell him. If you’re mad, tell him. Don’t keep it bottled up, let it out, God understands. That’s true, to an extent; God is Father, but Heavenly Father. God is still God, doesn’t stop being who he is when we’re having a bad day and want to complain to him. David was having hard day when wrote this psalm; pretty common occurrence in his life. Wrote this psalm of lament, crying out to God for attention and help. Spoke frankly, but never crossed any lines, never went anywhere in his speech that was inappropriate. Didn’t have to ask, “Did I say that with my outside voice?”

Spurgeon comments on this psalm that if you haven’t had occasion to pray/sing this way yet, you will before long if you’re a true Christian. Times when prayer bounces off the ceiling, if it gets that high. Other times when life-challenges gang up on you, one thing gets solved and two take its place, feels like you’re on your own with no clear sense of direction from God. May be health challenges, hassles from people, one thing after another going wrong or breaking, combination of all of above. Ideal time to take comfort and encouragement from this psalm.

Like most psalms of lament, starts out in depths but doesn’t stay there.

“The three pairs of verses climb up from the depths to a fine vantage-point of confidence and hope. If the path is prayer (3f.), the sustaining energy is the faith expressed in verse 5. The prospect from the summit (5) is exhilarating, and the retrospect (6) overwhelming.” Derek Kidner

David begins by articulating the problem, then making petition to God, and concludes with a declaration of praise: 4 questions, 3 requests & motivations, 2 responses, 1 reason.

A. problem v.1-2

4 questions – example of importunate prayer (Bounds): “a mighty movement of the soul”, “a passion of soul”, “wrestling quality”, “urgency and perseverance”, “tenacity and tension”

how long will you forget (1a)

psalmist crying out from perspective of experience/perception – what he was feeling in his circumstances

had no conscious awareness of God’s attention to him in his need

to outward appearances, seemed like God had forgotten him, was ignoring him

how long will you hide (1b)

seems that God has withdrawn, has veiled his face from David

often result of displeasure on God’s part

has further meaning also: cf. Aaronic blessing, Num. 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

hidden face = cessation of blessing; David is without sense of God’s grace, his pleasure, his blessing, his peace

how long must I sorrow (2a)

how much longer will I be left to own devices, without comfort and hope

how much longer left in dark as to nature of problem

if God’s hidden face truly evidence of displeasure

what did I do, how long will correction last

is there some other lesson to learn:

Discipline is needed in the school of grace, and therefore it is not withheld. A loving Father orders it—a loving hand applies it. The purpose and the result are increase of grace. Lurking sins are thus detected. Weakness in faith’s fabric is repaired. Secret foes are dragged to light and slain. Prayer and dependence and matured experience gain power. Fruits of righteousness are ripened. A shaken tree takes deeper root. Henry Law

how long will my enemy prevail (2b)

what most aggravates misery of the saint: triumph of enemies, theirs which also = God’s

triumph evident in various ways: told you so’s, sarcastic questions, hurtful statements: “thought you were a Christian, God would take care of you,…..”

the one who gives greatest meaning: Lord Jesus

given who Lord Jesus was, his experience should have been one of constant basking in light of Father’s smile

agonized cry from Cross: “why have you forsaken me?”

came when he was doing it all right, in middle of act of greatest good to mankind

means David’s experience (and ours when similar) not abnormal, not necessarily indicator of anything wrong

B. petition v.3-4

3 requests

look at me (consider) (3a)

calls on God to remember their relationship – O Yahweh, my Elohim

Yahweh – God who has personal name, is in covenant relationship with his people

my Elohim – personal relationship with David

faith maintained in midst of adversity

clinging tenaciously to One he considered to be his God, object of his devotion and worship

when hope seems hopeless, it prays

turn your face back toward me – beginning of blessing, restoration of sense of his presence

answer (hear) (3a)

respond to importunate cry for attention with intent to help

since you are my God, I have claim on you, right to seek your attentiveness and response

David doesn’t specify means, leaves that with God; simply asks for particular outcome

enliven (light up my eyes, ESV) (3b)

cheer me up, encourage me, revive me

David was experiencing great darkness of mind / soul; couldn’t let dark out, needed light to come in

felt unable to go on without some sort of relief – thoroughly discouraged and out of options

3 motivations

lest I die (3c)

no peace, no joy, no sense of God’s presence, no life

life isn’t worth living under these conditions

acknowledges total dependence on God

lest the enemy gloat (4a)

for child of God to be truly overcome by enemy (Satan or agents) would dishonor God

for child of God to be overcome by ultimate enemy, death, would make God a liar

lest my persecutors rejoice (4b)

brings glory to God when his children persevere through hardship

our salvation and God’s honor so intimately connected they stand or fall together

C. praise v.5-6

act of praying brings about change of perspective in one praying

shifts focus from circumstances to God

changes perspective from horizontal to vertical – looking at things from God’s/biblical vantage point rather than temporal/human

can prompt adjustment in nature of request

can also change type of prayer from request/supplication to praise/adoration

2 responses

I will rejoice (5b)

David received assurance of deliverance, that forms basis for hope in future

hope of deliverance enables David to ward off temptation to doubt/despair

instead he rejoices confidently in what he is certain God will do

I will sing (6a)

takes it to the next level – gives verbal expression to joy and confidence

adds to that acknowledgment of God’s great goodness toward David

1 reason

trust in God’s faithfulness

past (5a)

had trusted God to be merciful in the past, wasn’t disappointed

remembers God’s steadfast love for him throughout “Christian life”

future (6b)

“as thou hast been, thou forever wilt be”

presumes God will continue the same in future as has been in past

those two things together prime reason why prayer makes sense

Remember Spurgeon’s comment: “If the reader has never yet found occasion to use the language of this brief ode, he will do so ere long, if he be a man after the Lord’s own heart.” This psalm is wonderful, useful reminder of how to meet those times when life doesn’t seem worth living, you don’t want to get up in the morning, cry out to God. Devote yourself to prayer, trust him to deliver you, remember his past faithfulness and count on his future steadfast love for his children. If you know Lord Jesus, can say with Paul:

2 Tim. 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.


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