Psalm 13 – How long?

"How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?"  David begins this psalm with an anguished exclamation of his frustration.  I find it so refreshing to read David's complaints - his honesty and openness with God.  David is not afraid to speak what he feels.


Psalm 13 is a lament in a simple 3 part structure: Lament, Supplication, Trust. Through this simple structure David takes us on a short journey from despair to praise.

The final verse is the only part of this psalm that is not addressed as a prayer to God. Because of this sudden and solitary change of address, it functions as a coda reminding the people that trust in God leads to praise.


Psalm 13:1-2

David lays out his emotional struggle before God.  Four times David cries out: "How long"?

Are you in a time of struggle?  Let God know exactly how you feel.  David did and his words are recorded in scripture for everyone to read.  God is not offended by your honesty.


Psalm 13:3-4

At the very center of the psalm, very often the most important part of the psalm, are the words, "Look on me and answer, O Lord my God."  David pleads with God for relief from his trial. If God does not answer then the enemy will rejoice.

It is OK to cry to God for relief.  We don't have to suffer in silence.  We have a God who hears and cares.  He wants you to ask Him for help.


Psalm 13:5-6

David declares his trust in God's love.  Although life looks dire right now, David has confidence that God will not ignore his cries.

The last line of the poem is the only part that is not said directly to God.  This change from to God to about God highlights the phrase.  No matter what is going on currently in David's life he will "sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me."

No matter what is happening in your life right now, remember God's goodness and continue to sing to the Lord!

God's covenant name, YHWH, is only used three times in this psalm - once in each section.  By looking at these three uses of His name we can summarize the whole psalm:

"How long, O YHWH?"
"Look on me and answer, O YHWH my God."
"I will sing to YHWH, for He has been good to me."

Honest lament, followed by heart-felt supplication and ending in complete trust, will lead you from despair to praise.

Make up your mind now to continue to praise God no matter what your circumstances may bring.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Personal Worship, Psalms and tagged .