Thanks for joining our “Psalm Lesson” —specifically about Psalm 13. But first, if you are new to studying the Bible, here is some background about Psalms.
Psalms appear in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), and you might be surprised to learn that it is the Bible’s most read “book.” That could be because Psalms are a collection of 150 praises and prayers that read like glorious poetry — language as a resplendent art form — with no faith required to appreciate their beauty.
At the beginning of Vol. 122, when we studied the Psalm verses most requoted in the New Testament, I wrote:
“In modern terms, Psalms are a self-help manual to help one cope with the traumas and tragedies of life. Whatever you are experiencing, there is a Psalm to comfort you, lift your spirits, and help you feel the presence of God. Psalms are about praising the Almighty for His majestic power while loving and trusting Him.”
Today I chose to study Psalm 13 because it reflects the thoughts of people feeling down and depressed for various reasons. Those “people” include believers who have lost faith in the Lord — thinking He has abandoned them or is deaf to their prayers. Unfortunately, that sentiment is prevalent and growing because of much hardship, sickness, trauma, and suffering throughout our nation in a world that appears to be careening out of control.
Therefore, Psalm 13 is relatable. Authorship is credited to David, who endured many harrowing and stressful events. (Some were self-inflicted.) During David’s lowest times, he never lost faith in the Lord, but in Psalm 13, he sounds like he is on the verge of unbelief. Have you ever felt that way? If you are human, the answer is “yes.” Let’s read how David expressed his doubts:
“For the director of music. A psalm of David.”
“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).
Now, raise your hand if you have experienced unanswered prayer. How about feeling that God is not listening or has abandoned you? Hence, one could say that Psalm 13 is David’s version of “venting” to God. Have you ever written a letter (text or email) and then chose not to send it but felt better after writing your thoughts? That is a perfect example of venting. David’s “vents” are recorded in the Bible, albeit splendidly written and inspiring to us all.
In Psalm 13, David is distraught about unspecified problems and written during times when he was running and hiding from his enemies. First was King Saul, who tried to kill David — chronicled in 1 Samuel chapters 18 – 24. (Here is a shorter but detailed study of David “fleeing” his enemies.) Second, his son Absalom wanted to kill David, and many verses are related to that effort.
Thus, on numerous occasions, David had reason to ask the Lord: “Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Those questions are painfully raw and incredibly challenging when David (and us as believers) know that the Lord loves us and has previously blessed us. We always know He is with us in our heart, mind, and soul, but doubt can overtake us when “bad things happen to good people.”
Many years ago, I read a commentary that resonated and remembered it during challenging times: “The devil’s two most effective tools are fear and doubt.
In Psalm 13, David expressed fear when he wrote, “my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” And David doubted that the Lord was there for him: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”
Thankfully, in the concluding verses, David’s faith sprung back to praise mode for which the Psalms are loved and revered when he wrote: “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.”
And that is our lesson, “sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” Remember all the times God has shown you His love and mercy. That helps define the meaning of faith, which sustains you during dark days. Add to that one of my favorite verses from St. Paul, who explains all of life’s tragedies and triumphs in context:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The operative phrase is “all things work together.” Good, bad, everything.
Author’s Note: Readers can find all previous volumes of this series here. The first 56 volumes are compiled into the book “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible.” Part Two, featuring volumes 57-113, will be published later this year.
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. SignFromGod was a proud sponsor of all the Museum of the Bible’s events for its five-month exhibition about the Shroud of Turin. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com or Twitter @MyraKAdams.