BOOK ONE Psalms 1–41
This psalm is for the soul that feels deserted. David sadly complains that God had long withdrawn from him. He earnestly prays to God to consider his case and comfort him. The Psalm concludes with an assurance of an answer of peace. Trust in the Salvation of the Lord. Psalm 13
Psalm 13 – A Psalm of David
O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me and shall I take counsel in my soul?, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
We have access by faith
Henry says – David pours out his soul before God in this short Psalm. The afflicted are at liberty to pour out their complaint before the Lord. It brings ease to a troubled spirit to vent its griefs at the throne of grace. Here we are sure to find the One who was afflicted in the afflictions of His people and is troubled with their infirmities. We have the boldness of access through faith.
David’s affliction was a complaint of God’s seeming unkindness. He thought God had forgotten him, His promises to him and His covenant with him. He had been shown former loving-kindness and David expected further mercies from them. No good man can ever doubt the omniscience, goodness and faithfulness of God. But such doubts are an expression of pervasive fears which arise from an earnest desire for God’s favour. The second thought should be to retract these doubts and repent of them.
Our Master Himself was a man of sorrows
David here was a type of Christ upon the cross, crying out, My God, why have You forsaken me? God sometimes hides His face from His own children in a bid for us to reach up more fervently. This grieves the heart more than any outward trouble. David was racked with care: I take counsel in my soul; “I am at a loss with what I can put any confidence in. I am continually contemplating what I can do to help myself; but none of my ideas are likely to take effect. So I am at my wits’ end, and in a continual state of agitation.”
Anxious cares are heavy burdens. David was overwhelmed with sorrow, which filled his heart: I have sorrow in my heart daily. The bread of sorrow is sometimes the saint’s daily bread. Our Master Himself was a man of sorrows. Saul was David’s great enemy and others also triumphed in his distress. This he complained of as reflecting dishonour upon God, and His power and promise.
Refresh my soul with the joy of salvation
“How long shall it be like this?”, he cried. Long afflictions try our patience and often tire us out. It is a common temptation, when trouble lasts a long time to think it will always last. Despondency then turns into despair. Those who have long been without joy begin, to be without hope. “Lord, tell me how long You will hide Your face. Assure me that it shall not be forever, but that You will return and have mercy on me. Then I shall be able to bear my present troubles more easily.”
He then stirs up his complaint into a prayer in verse 3. We should never allow ourselves to make any complaints unless we are willing for them to be offered up to God on our knees in prayer. David cries: Consider my case, hear my complaints, and enlighten my eyes. That is “Strengthen my faith;” for faith is the eye of the soul, which sees above and through, the things of the senses. “Lord, enable me to look beyond my present troubles and to foresee a happy outcome from them.” “Guide my way that I may avoid the snares for my soul which are laid for me.” “Refresh me with the joy of Your salvation.”
This is the power of faith and prayer
David insists that he is in great trouble and calls for a speedy relief. If it does not come then he concludes that he must die: “I shall sleep the sleep of death; I cannot live under the weight of all this care and grief.” Nothing is more killing to a soul then when we are in desperate want of God’s favour. Nothing is more reviving than the return of it. If he should fall, his enemies would triumph: “Lest my enemy be gratified.” He will say, “I have prevailed, I have won the day, it has been too hard for him and his God.” How will it be for God’s honour if they were to trample upon all that is sacred both in heaven and earth?
His prayers are soon turned into praises in verse 5: But my heart shall rejoice and I will sing to the Lord. What a surprising change is here in a few lines! In the beginning of the Psalm he is trembling, and ready to sink into melancholy and despair. But, at the end of it, he is rejoicing in God. This is the power of faith and the power of prayer. How good it is to draw near to God. If we bring our cares and griefs to the throne of grace, and leave them there, we may go away like Hannah, and our countenance will be sad no more, 1 Sam. 1:18.
God has never failed me
God’s mercy is the support of his faith. “My case is bad and I am ready to think it’s intolerable until I consider the infinite goodness of God. With God to trust in, I am comforted, though I have no merit of my own. In former distresses I have trusted in the mercy of God, and never found that it has failed me. His mercy has relieved me and my confidence in it has supported me. Even in the depth of this distress, when God hid His face from me. Yet I trusted in the mercy of God and that was as an anchor in a storm. Though I was tossed, I was not overcome.”
And still do I trust in Your mercy. He knows that God finds pleasure in those who hope in His mercy, Ps. 147:11. His faith in God’s mercy filled his heart with joy in his salvation; for joy and peace come by believing, Rom. 15:13. Believing, you rejoice, 1 Pet. 1:8. Having put his trust in the mercy of God, he is fully assured of salvation. His heart, which was now grieving, should rejoice in that salvation. Though weeping endure long, joy will return. His joy in God’s salvation fills his mouth with songs of praise. (Ps. 13:6): “I will sing unto the Lord, sing in remembrance of what He has done for me.
He has dealt bountifully with me
Even if I should never recover the peace that I have had, I will die blessing God that ever I had it. He has dealt bountifully with me, and He shall have the glory of that. I will sing in hope of what He will do for me, being confident that all will end everlastingly well.” In singing and praying over this psalm we may also bring our troubles to the Lord and dread His withdrawals, sympathise with those who are troubled in mind, and encourage ourselves in our most holy faith and joy.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Lord of Joy You may enter upon My unspeakable joy When you realise the fullness of My Paternity; For I am the expression in time Of the joy of all Eternity. That joy I offered to all, Who would see In my Way the path of joy And who would hail Me. Hail Me not only as the Man of Sorrows But as the Joy-Lord. This truth becomes known to those only Who give joyful recognition as they carry My Sword. Recognition to this all-amazing All sustaining, all revealing Overflowing joy that floods Far beyond human feeling. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. I thank You that I am at liberty to pour out all my complaints before the Lord. I know my troubled spirit is eased when laid before Your throne of grace. For here I find the One who was afflicted in the afflictions of His people and is troubled with our infirmities. I thank You that by faith I have access to a bold faith. May I never doubt Your omniscience, goodness, and faithfulness. If I am ever to doubt, may my next thought be to retract these doubts and repent of them. Whenever I feel You are hidden from me may I ever more fervently reach for You.
May I never utter a word of complaint without offering it to You on my knees in prayer. Enlighten my eyes Lord, strengthen me to look beyond my present troubles and foresee a happy outcome. Guide my way that I may avoid any snares that may be laid for me. Refresh my soul with the joy of Your salvation. May my life be as one overflowing with the power of faith and the power of prayer.
It is good to draw near to You
I remember always how good it is to draw near to You. Let me quickly bring my cares and griefs to the throne of grace, and leave them there, that I may go away like Hannah, rejoicing. I trust in You and am comforted. Through no merit of my own, but for Your grace and mercy. I have trusted in You in former distresses and never found that it has failed me. Your mercy has relieved me and my confidence in it has supported me. Even when You seem hidden from me. Yet I have trusted in Your mercy and that was as an anchor in the storm. Though I be tossed, I am not overcome.
You find pleasure in those who hope in Your mercy. Faith in Your mercy fills my heart with joy in salvation. For I know that joy and peace come by believing. May joy in Your salvation fill my mouth with songs of praise. Help me remember all of what You have done for me. You have dealt bountifully with me, and You shall have all the glory. I will sing in hope of what You will do for me, being confident that all will end everlastingly well. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.