1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Thomas a’Kempis writes in the Imitation of Christ,
“When Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When He is absent, all is hard. When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty, but if He says only a word, it brings great consolation.”
Psalm 13 reminds me of the author’s sentiment. God seems far away to David, and all he can think is how long can this go on? The waiting period seems unbearable. In but two short verses, he asks the question four times. How long will you forget me? Will this last forever? How long will I not experience the joy of seeing your face? How long will I experience psychological distress in my dark thoughts? Finally, and this seems to be a constant theme with David, “How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
How do we endure those times when God seems far away? David appeals to God’s mercy and God’s glory. He says, “God, if you don’t act, I am going to die.” Please be merciful! Then he says, if you don’t show up God, my enemy is going to rejoice and boast of their victory over me. Implicit in this statement is the belief that if an enemy overcomes David, it will be seen as a defeat for God Himself. God’s glory is “on the line.”
Finally, David steadies himself by trusting in God’s unfailing love. The Hebrew word for unfailing love is chesed. Chesed is David’s favorite word to describe God’s essential character and is used 127 times in the Psalms. The word can be translated in a multitude of ways, but it always connotes that God will be faithful. God’s love will never fail. God will never let David go. David Wilder translates chesed as “sticky love.” God’s chesed love is a stronger bond than super glue!
Remembrance of God’s chesed causes David to rejoice and sing. Perhaps, he no longer waits. Maybe he no longer cries out, “How long?”
How do you navigate those times when God seems far away, and all you can say is “How long will this go on?” Appeal to God’s mercy and glory. Rejoice in the salvation you have in Jesus Christ and sing!
Here is Michael Card’s excellent rendition of Psalm 13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8WYRAbZ5yo
O Lord, when you are seemingly not near to me, everything seems so hard. But, your presence makes even the hardest thing easy. Help me to know that you will never abandon me. Your chesed love is unfailing and a bond that will never fracture. Amen!