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We are back in the book of Psalms this morning as we continue our journey surveying this wonderful book of timeless truths and experiences of God’s people.
So, please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.
READ Psalm 13
Prayer of Invocation
The cries of the human heart do not change from one generation to the next.
And it’s our conviction that the Bible really does speak to the condition of the human heart as much today as it did when it was originally breathed out by God and recorded by the human authors.
The expressions of the Psalmist, then, remain strikingly relevant and understandable to us today.
Through petition, praise, lament and song, the Psalmist articulates both the difficulties of living in a fallen world but also the eternal truths about the character of God.
Those who are burdened by life’s trials will discover that the Psalms are, as one commentator called them, “the soul’s medicine chest.”
This book is a source of encouragement and hope, and it also provides an encouragement and motivation for worship and prayer.
Psalm 13 is a wonderful example of real life in the real world for the Christian.
A Psalm of individual lament, more introspective as compared to Psalm 12 which is more outward focused.
Attributed to David as author
The specific historical context is not clear but most commentators think either a persistent external enemy or a personal illness are what troubled David.
We can’t assume that personal sin is involved because it isn’t mentioned here.
The Psalm follows the familiar triangle of God-Man-World, expressing the personal faith struggle of a believer who experiences difficult circumstances of real life in a sin-cursed world.
An open window into the soul of the psalmist.
The Psalm is best divided into three distinct parts.
David comes despairingly (vv.
David cries honestly (vv.
David concludes joyfully (vv.
He Comes Despairingly (vv.
If David could have had an iTunes playlist when writing this Psalm, it would have probably had one song on it with these lyrics:
The sun is out, the sky is blue
There's not a cloud to spoil the view
But it's raining, raining in my heart
The weatherman says clear today
He doesn't know you've gone away
And it's raining, raining in my heart
Oh, misery, misery
What's gonna become of me?
The intensity of emotion, honesty, and transparency
4 times David asks the Lord, “How long?”
These are rhetorical questions.
David doesn’t want to know the number of days that God would wait before answering, he’s asking because he feels abandoned by God and his soul is in despair.
The reason?
Because God seemed distant, silent, and unwilling to rescue him from his circumstances.
Have you ever felt this way?
“It’s not supposed to be like this God!
I’m supposed to be your child!
Don’t You see the situation I’m in…where are you?
have you forgotten me?…this trouble continues on and on and it occupies my thoughts all the time…and my heart is heavy with sadness constantly and my enemy knows all of this and he gloats…don’t you care?...”
Have you ever felt this way?
That God seems distant, you feel abandoned by God? Now this is not something we would necessarily like to admit because we tend to want to package Christianity in the prettiest box we can find.
“Oh things are well under control, we don’t have no troubles, no problems, everything’s running smooth around here…hey, why don’t you come on over and join the group!”...and we’re lying through our smiles some of the time because in reality we all have problems and sin to deal with now and again.
But we sure do like to dress up our mess!
And here we have David in Psalm 13 and in other Psalms confirming that the walk of faith isn’t a bed of roses…it’s not easy.
And he shows us what the cry of faith looks like in the middle of the struggle.
2. Reasons David feels abandoned
Verses 1-2 : A prolonged struggle
By the repeated use of “How long...”
this is perhaps the most frequent cause of feeling abandoned because we don’t tend to think this way in the short term.
Oh, we may be unaware at times of God’s presence or even puzzled about what seems to be silence; but in the short term, we typically trust that God has his purposes and we try to be patient believing that God is still there (Rom.
But let the short term become a long term pattern and we begin to wonder if He will be silent forever and we begin to ask the questions “Why this?
Why now?
Why me?”.
When I think of prolonged struggle, I think of Job.
If it wasn’t enough that he experienced the loss of family, fortune, and health, he had to suffer through the accusations of people who were supposed to be his friends!
Andrew Fuller, another of the earlier commentators, said, “It is not under the sharpest, but the longest trials, that we are most in danger of fainting.
… When Job was accosted with evil tidings, in quick succession, he bore it with becoming fortitude; but when he could see no end to his troubles, he sunk under them.”4
Another reason David feels abandoned:
Verse 1b: A lack of apparent blessing
This is really an extension of the prolonged struggle where there has been a prolonged period of time in which the blessings of God given in an earlier time seem to have been removed.
I think this is what David alludes to in the second part of verse 1 “How long will you hide your face from me?”
To say that the face of God is shining upon us is a way of saying that God is being favorable to us or blessing us.
So, if God is hiding his face, what this must mean is that the times of blessing or favor seem to have ceased.
When life has been turned on its head, and God seems distant, and the blessings we once experienced have waned, it occupies our minds and we can be tempted to despair.
And that’s what happens to David.
Have you ever had to swallow a pill before?
One of those without the coating on the outside?
You know our parents would try to tell us, okay Johnny, okay Susie, now I’m trying to help you.
Just put the pill in your mouth and swallow it quickly; don’t hold it in your mouth.
But what did we do?
We would hide it under our tongue or behind a molar or something and it would start to dissolve…and our parent would say okay look I’m trying to help you here…just swallow it already!!
But we’d refuse.
That’s what David is doing in verse 2. Life circumstances can be a hard, bitter pill to swallow.
But they are easier swallowed than chewed.
3. Verse 2a: Dark Thoughts and Uncontrollable Emotions
Dark thoughts and uncontrollable emotions are being expressed by David the third time he asks, “How long?”
The NIV translation of verse 2a says,
 “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”
I like this translation better because it exposes the true sense of what David is happening to David and we see his initial response to his difficulty.
His circumstances have overwhelmed him to the point that it becomes his constant thought pattern, trying to figure out what’s happened, did he do something wrong, what can he do to get out of this.
The fog is so heavy that he has the same circular thought pattern everyday without relief and while his mind is occupied with his troubles, his heart is saddened to the point of despair.
James Montgomery Boice writes,
When we no longer sense that God is blessing us, we tend to ruminate on our failures and get into an emotional funk.
And when our emotions take over it is always hard to get back onto a level course.
This is because the best means of doing this—calm reflection and a review of past blessings—are being swept away.
We discover that we cannot settle ourselves long enough to complete the exercise.
This is true of David in this passage, and it was experienced by others in the Bible including Jonah, Job, Elijah, Jeremiah, and even the Apostle Paul (to name a few).
Turn to Job 30:26-27 to see Job’s expression of despair.
READ Job 30:26-27
The skeptic or the unbeliever who may be here today may be thinking, “I experience this all the time, what’s the big deal?
This is life…suck it up!”
Well, you’re right!
For the person who doesn’t know God through Jesus Christ, this is your ordinary experience because you’re under God’s wrath and condemnation and not the object of His blessings.
John 3:18 says
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
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