Psalm 13: A Psalm of Lament | January 18, 2023

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To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13, written by King David, is a psalm of lament as he cries out to God for help and deliverance from his current situation. He is in anguish as he thinks that God has forgotten him.

There are more than sixty psalms of lament in the Psalter. They express the distress the ancient Israelites felt in times of trouble. Scholars have found that these Psalms are structured with 6 main elements:

  1. An address to God and a cry for help
  2. A specific complaint
  3. A confession of trust in God’s power to deliver
  4. A petition calling upon God to intervene
  5. An assurance of being heard by God
  6. A vow of praise and recognition that God is the only one capable of transforming the situation

(A. C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987], 859.

Reread Psalm 13, perhaps in more than one translation. Can you identify the 6 main elements? The first 2 come naturally to us, but what about the last 4?

How can we learn to pray prayers of lament the way the psalmist did, so that when we are in a place of waiting on God to answer a prayer, when we are maybe even questioning our faith, we will persevere? As you go about your day, ask the Lord to show you His faithfulness, even in the midst of unanswered prayer or a difficult situation you are facing.