Psalm 13 begins where the despondent person spends most of his or her time: flat on the ground, crushed under the weight of sorrow. In the first section of the song, we see . . .
David on His Face
How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1-2)
Swamped by the overwhelming trials of life, David resorts to four common and human ways to handle despondency. In these two verses, he reminds us of ourselves and four mental escape routes we often take under pressure.
1. God has forgotten me—forever. Remember the last time you felt abandoned? "How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?" Since the testing had continued so long without hope of relief, David finally became emotionally crushed beneath the load. He wondered if God had abandoned him.
2. God doesn't care about me. This is nothing short of gross self-pity. "How long will You hide Your face from me?" This inevitably accompanies feelings of abandonment, which whisper lies: "God has simply lost interest. He said He would take care of me and bear my burdens and lift my load, but that isn't the case!" (Sound a little familiar?) God's Word is painfully honest. How often we see ourselves reflected on the pages of the Bible.
3. I'm going to have to work things out for myself. This is doubting God's promises, suggesting He is not trustworthy. "How long shall I take counsel in my soul?" The Hebrew term translated "take counsel" means to "plan." David had begun to plan a way out, adjust matters himself. "After all," he might have said, "God gave me a mind and He expects me to use it. God helps those who help themselves!"
Hold it! Is that true? You may be surprised to know that statement never appears in Scripture! Let's pause and remind ourselves of several of Solomon's sayings:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Commit your works to the LORD,
And your plans will be established. (16:3)
When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (16:7)
The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD. (16:33)
What happens when we try to work things out in our own flesh? Exactly what happened to David. And what was that? Look at the next part of Psalm 13:2, "Having sorrow in my heart all the day."
Sorrow, strain, frustration, and worry became his constant companions. Such are the by-products of do-it-yourself activities. When will we ever learn to leave our burdens with the Lord and let Him work out the details?
4. I resent this trial! It's humiliating to endure being stepped on. Pride has now been wounded, so it retaliates. "How long will my enemy be exalted over me?"
Isn't this a typical complaint? Again, I remind you, it comes from pride. It says, in effect, that I have the right to defend the truth, especially when it comes to some enemy taking advantage of me. How we fight to maintain our pride! How we long to be appreciated and well thought of! David was having to learn that the truth will defend itself. It will emerge as the champion in God's own time.
From Living the Psalms by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
In Embraced by the Spirit, we step away from the heat of theological battle that analyzes and criticizes and move quietly and closely to the One who has been sent alongside to help.