Psalm 13 “Cliff Notes” for the Psalms (NRSV)
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13, with just six verses, is one of the shortest of the 150 Psalms in the Bible. It is not the shortest; Psalm 117 is just two verses in length. It is also far from the longest; that record goes to Psalm 119 which spans over 176 verses. Notably the very familiar Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd …,” is just six verses as well. Brevity can be beautiful and powerful. Psalm 13 is unique in how it captures so much of the despair, beseeching, hope, deliverance, love, joy, and praise that thread through the chapters and verses of the Book of Psalms.
Read verses 1-2 to capture the sense of lament and despair that are present in many of the Psalms. These verses remind us that the Lord challenges our faith and trust. The most powerful man of his time, King David, speaks to us in this Psalm, and even he in these verses expresses pain and sorrow and fear of defeat and ridicule by his foes. David instructs us by his own sense of self-doubt that protection through personal power is a false security. That protection comes from God and from your trust in his will – a timeless message so appropriate in our current times.
Verses 3-4 share the Psalms’ themes of beseeching and deliverance. We can see in these two verses our physical and moral frailty, our vulnerable human condition that turns us toward God, seeking ‘light to our eyes’.
Finally, verses 5-6 encapsulate the Psalms’ many verses of thanks and praise for God’s love and freely granted grace.
We thank you, Lord, for the wonderful gift of your spiritual messages that come to us in the Psalms of the Bible. We confess we struggle at discerning your will for us but steadfastly dedicate ourselves to approach the Psalms as your light to our eyes. In this we pray as we praise your holy name. Amen.