1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I 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.
I love the book of Psalms. I didn’t always love it. As a child, I found it confusing. I appreciated it, but I did not love it. My Sunday School teachers called it a hymmbook, but it didn’t seem much like the hymnals I was familiar with.
I have grown to love this book, because I learned that it is also a prayerbook. When I learned that I could borrow the words of the Psalmist and use them for my own prayers, I began to love the book of Psalms. I gleefully plagiarize its prayers and grow in the discipline of prayer as I do so.
Psalm 13 is one that is easy to borrow. For starters, I have gone through numerous periods in my life when I felt beleaguered by enemies. I have felt despair, because it seemed to me that God ought to do something about the situation, and I could not see any evidence of improvement.
I have observed of myself that, like everyone else, I view my experiences from within the limitations of time and space. It is hard for me to remember that God views them from the perspective of eternity and infinity. In that point of reference, every point in time is now and every point in space is here. The resolution and completion I yearn for is already working, even as I pray, but I am not able to see it. God does not disdain my fears, my suffering, or my inability to see the culmination that is everpresent with Him. Kohelet, the author of Ecclesiastes, observed that God has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11b)
In Psalm 13, however, David summons up faith to assert, despite all appearances to the contrary, that he will “sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:6) By the time I reach verse 5 of this Psalm, David’s words of lament have worked like a drawing salve on my fear and frustration. They empty out all the things that make me need to cry out, “Help my unbelief!” I am finally able to step outside my time/space limitations and enter worshipfully into God’s throne room where my vision is expanded beyond the limits of my own worldview. David invites me to worship with the saints who see history from God’s point of view in that heavenly throne room. David’s faithful words nourish my own faith, and I am refreshed and encouraged.
I highly recommend plagiarizing David’s prayers and making them your own.