From sorrow to singing, Psalm 13 reflects our human emotional shifts and points us to stability.

Psalm 12 expresses how David felt when he had been abandoned by godly friends. In Psalm 13, David is so alone, he feels he has been abandoned by God Himself. This feeling is prompted by the length of his suffering. Perseverance in a long time of difficulty is perhaps the most trying to our minds and hearts.

David's struggle will feel familiar to many people of God. In a marathon of trust, we often ask similar questions. Is God one who abandons? Through David's wrestling, we will learn that God's character and work confessed in prayer sustains us during long, drawn-out periods of suffering.

Perplexity (Psalm 13:1-2)

As we read the opening of this psalm, it is comforting to remember that these questions were asked by a godly man "after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22). The emotions gathered by his mind brought sorrow to his heart. As one commentator said, "it is not in the sharpest, but the longest trials, when we are most in danger of fainting" in our faith.

Not only is the sorrow of David's heart plaguing him over a long period of time, but it persists all day. Its quality in any given day is unrelenting; there is never relief from the pressure. The Psalmist is left to conclude that God has forgotten him, that God is embarrassed of him, and he is left alone to his own counsel. Many commentators argue that historic occasion is the absolute exhaustion as David ran for his life from Saul. Many of the choices he made to avoid Saul reflect this sense of desperation.

The victorious, materially abundant life is not the normal experience of people of God's heart. It is okay to express our discouragement and depression to God. All the psalms refer us to the robust place of prayer for comfort. Jesus Himself gave us an example as he prayed in distress, "not my will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:41-42).

Prayer (Psalm 13:3-4)

David's prayer is characterized by humility and boldness. His "commands" addressed toward God are imperatives of entreaty. He has no other hope or help beside the Lord! We can express the same humility and boldness knowing Jesus Christ as our intercessor at the throne of grace (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 4:16).

When David prays that God would enlighten him, he is praying that God would keep him alive. He knew that God's promise that he would ascend the throne of Israel required that his life be preserved! He confessed God's Word back to Him as a reason to return and save his life. David was a man after God's heart because his interests were God's interests, and his enemies were God's enemies.

God has given Christians in this age a specific purpose: to make disciples of all the world. We must battle faithless feelings because these make us incompetent in our Gospel witness. This battle is one individuals must wage in prayer on our own. We exercise ourselves in the prayer of faith because the testimony of our Lord is at stake.

God's Word reveals promises concerning you when experiencing long trials:

  • Romans 5:1-5 – The value of trials causes us to exult in hope and tribulation.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – The goal and purpose of trials teaches us to be effective while personally walking through hardship.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 – The potential of each trial is for God's grace to be displayed in our weakness.
Release and Perseverance (Psalm 13:5-6)

The perplexity of the beginning of the psalm slows and settles by the third stanza. In “the prayer offered in faith” (James 5:15), David finds release from doubt and the paralysis of depression and fear. David has wielded theology as a weapon in prayer and has returned to right thinking.

There is one truth that is always trustworthy despite circumstances, and that is God's loving loyalty that sustains our eternal salvation. By faith, David confesses God’s loving-kindness, rejoices in the salvation of God, and sings of the history of God's bounty to him. These are the simple truths that we keep living out whatever the circumstances.

Matthew 11:28-30 calls us to come to Jesus for true rest. Ease and lightness come through clarity. Rehearse in prayer what God has said concerning the value, goal, purpose, and potential for suffering. Then step back and tell God how special He is. Confess the eternal trustworthy truth, source of hope, and inspiration for song that is found exclusively in the God of heaven.

Application Points

  • Are you in a marathon of trust? The place to find the most robust comfort is in prayer! Follow David's example and ask God your questions.
  • Imitate David's boldness and humility in prayer. We have a personal God on the throne who is very good and very loving, with Jesus is our intercessor. He is the only source of help and hope.
  • Follow David's method of prayer: confess God's Word back to Him. What are His promises to you concerning trials?
  • The simple truths we learned at salvation are what we continue to live out as we grow. There is no top-secret additional truth for us to find!

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "Come, Look to Jesus"

Come, all souls by sin afflicted,
Come to Christ where grace abounds;
By the broken law convicted,
Through the cross behold the crown;
Look to Jesus; look to Jesus;
Mercy flows through Him alone.

Blessèd are the eyes that see Him,
Blest the ears that hear His voice;
Blessèd are the souls that trust Him,
And in Him alone rejoice;
His commandments
Then become their happy choice.

Sweet as home to exiles weary,
Light to newly opened eyes,
Flowing springs in deserts dreary,
Is the rest the cross supplies;
All who taste it
Shall to life immortal rise.