There are three broad categories of Psalms:
- Psalms of Praise
- Psalms of Thanksgiving
- Psalms of Lament
I define a lament as a “sacred ouch” – screaming out to God that something is wrong, something hurts. Our Psalm study for this post is a lament, a sacred ouch. Life has kicked the psalmist in the teeth and he’s attempting to pick himself up off the floor. Perhaps you’ve been there. Perhaps you can learn from Psalm 13.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
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?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
~ Psalm 13
“How long?” The psalmist repeats the question four times.
Humor me for a minute. Imagine the person asking “How long?” over and over again. What do they sound like? What do they look like? Are they sitting? Are they standing?
Perhaps they look like this …
or this …
or this …
Or perhaps they simply look just like you and me. Perhaps we should pay attention to the 6 verses of this psalm.
Is God Like You and Me?
Let’s take a deep look at verse 1. Does God forget? Does God hide from us? Better question: Is God like you and me? Does God hide from people in the grocery store to avoid unwanted conversation? Does God want to call us but it keeps slipping his mind on busy days?
Whether or not it a true statement – the psalmist voices it. How long will you forget me and hide your face from me?
POINT YOU NEED TO GRASP: The psalmist is honest. We need honest prayers. Real honesty is when what comes out of your mouth accurately reflects what is on your heart and mind. You gain nothing by keeping things from God. In fact, your attempt to keep things from God is futile. But you gain a great deal by opening up your life to the God who created you.
The tone changes in verse 3. While verses 1-2 seemed like a voiced cry of trouble, verse 3 seems like a prayer that we are familiar with hearing. It’s a petition. The psalmist asks for something.
- Give me a answer
- Give light to my eyes
POINT YOU NEED TO GRASP: It’s not about you or me. It’s not about our view of things. Rather, it’s about God’s view of things. When we’re honest in prayer it restores relationship with God and reconnects us with the character of God. We walk and see in darkness. God gives light to our eyes and provides light for our path.
The psalmist prays and I believe we see an answered prayer in the midst of this psalm. It happens. The light comes. In the midst of trouble there is …
Verses 5 and 6 discuss trusting in God’s unfailing love, rejoicing in salvation, and singing God’s praises. God does not forget. God does not hide from us. He’s not ducking behind aisles in the grocery store in order to avoid us. He’s not screening phone calls in order to avoid conversation with us. Yet, life can make it seem that way. But things change through honest prayer. Honest prayer restores our relationship with God and reconnects us to the character of God.
God can handle it
It’s time to get honest in our prayers. Don’t allow “How long?” to burn inside you heart. Rather, give it over to God. He can handle it.
He’s the One who created you.
He’s the One who sustains you every day.
He’s the One who provided you with salvation through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.