If you’ve ever heard me talk about the book of Psalms, you’ve heard me say that I love the honesty of the psalms, particularly those of David since I’m familiar with his story. David is so transparent in what he writes and how he speaks to God. If he’s happy or mad or worried, it’s as clear as the words on the page.
People often say that it’s bad or even sinful to question God, but I disagree, and evidently, so would David, a man after God’s own heart. Seeking answers, David often petitioned God. And knowing that God knew what was in his heart anyway, why wouldn’t he?
This honesty and need for answers is where we find David in Psalm 13. “O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, ‘We have defeated him!’ Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me” (NLT).
The next time you feel bad about feeling bad, revisit this psalm and know that it’s okay. I don’t believe David really believed God had forgotten him, but we can tell from the scripture that he did feel that way.
Last week, we discussed Psalm 11, in which David writes, “But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth” (verse 4, NLT). So David goes from “God knows because He actively watches us” to “God has intentionally turned His back on me” pretty quick. This is the same man but a different mindset.
But that’s so relatable, right? How many times do I flip-flop between God being great and God leaving me to fend for myself? How easy is it to get pulled from one end of the spectrum to the other, from feeling His presence and love to feeling like He just doesn’t care anymore? It’s no fault of God’s. Really, it’s on our end with how we perceive whatever we’re going through, but it happens.
In the next part, David asks for God to answer him and says in verse 3, “Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.” This tells us a lot about where David’s at when he writes this. He doesn’t just have an issue with God or something like that. He isn’t finding joy like he did before. He’s not just displeased or upset. He’s probably depressed.
The word “depressed” sort of gets thrown around a lot, so I want to clarify what I mean. David is beyond sad or mad; he’s deeply upset. So upset that there is seemingly no way to change how he feels. This is relatively common. Everyone gets depressed. When someone feels this way for more than two or three consecutive weeks, that person is considered clinically depressed (or so I was told in my psychology class a few years ago). From what I know of David and from how this psalm ends, I doubt David was clinically depressed, but I do think he was depressed when he wrote Psalm 13.
But let’s look at how David ends this psalm. “But I will trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me” (verses 5-6).
No, you didn’t miss anything. This is actually the same psalm, and this section is exactly how I know David is going through something temporary.
A man resigned to doubt and a man who would’ve seen his current situation as his lasting one would not write what David wrote. He wouldn’t boast of God’s unfailing love or recall his rescue by God’s hand if he truly believed God didn’t care about him. He certainly wouldn’t proclaim God’s goodness through song if he didn’t expect Him to restore his joy. No, David knew how he felt, but he knew who God is just as well. David knew his circumstances wouldn’t last but that the love and provision of God would.
I find David to be one of the most relatable and inspiring people in the Bible, and Psalm 13 is a good example of why that is. He struggled just like us. He felt how we felt and maybe took it out on God like we sometimes do. His spiritual life affected his decisions and emotions. But through it all, David kept his faith. He never gave up on God or God’s plan, even if he felt like he wanted to. So let’s find the hope that David did where David did: in God. And when we struggle as David did, let’s return to his words in Psalm 13 and find comfort there. If misery loves company, it couldn’t find better company than with one you know makes it to better days.
By Carrie Prevette