In today’s reading, Psalm 13 has captured my attention. Written by David while being hunted by King Saul; though loyal and innocent, he lived as an escaped fugitive for twelve long years.
There was a time in my life when I identified with David closely…I too lived in less than stellar circumstances for twelve long years. I read David’s Psalms and felt his pain and frustration. Had God forgotten him? When in the midst of dark times, it’s not unusual for a Christian to feel that way.
As this Psalm opens, David expresses his frustration at his humiliation meted out by Saul and the misery of his circumstances. During my years of despair, I read somewhere that God designs trials for each of us and the circumstances of life are His shaping tools. He designs the depth and length of our trials according to the purpose He has for us to fill. I even remember a long ago sermon that has stayed buried in my heart and mind for forty years using this Psalm as its focal point. When I started reading this Psalm, it came to the forefront of my thoughts and I wish to share some of them with you.
In verse one, David asks God a question…”Will you forget me forever?” What is the depth of this trial, God? He then asks God…“How long will you hide your face from me?” What is the length of this trial, God? David then asks God…”How long will I take counsel in my soul?” Do I have to use my own plans to survive this trial? Since we know the end of the story, we know that his trials forged David into a man with great inner strength and sensitivity to his God. But how did he survive the long years of struggle?
We see in verse three that David is now on his knees…“Consider and hear me O God.” David knew acutely that his strength to survive depended on his relationship with God and his times of communion with Him. He goes on to ask God to “enlighten my eyes”. Restore the sparkle in my eyes, God. Let me feel the life and vitality to live as I once did. Trials drain your vitality; mere survival on a day to day basis saps your positive outlook and causes you to focus on your miserable circumstances. He knows that only God can lighten the load in the midst of the circumstances.
In his time of prayer and communion with God David gets the encouragement to not only survive, but even flourish in the midst of his trial. In verses five and six we read…“I have trusted in Your mercy…my heart rejoices in Your salvation…I will sing to the Lord for He has dealt bountifully with me!”
That’s quite a reversal of attitude between the opening stanza and the last of this chapter. David’s circumstances hadn’t changed – David had changed! He begins bowed down with his misery and ends on his feet rejoicing before his God! I’ve always felt that in our weakness and time of trial, God has a platform to do some of His most magnificent work for us humans that trust in Him. In II Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul tells the Corinthian church that God told him “For My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” He goes on to say…“For when I am weak, then I am strong!” There it is again, one of the dichotomies of scripture. David’s trials and how he faced them had worked in him the mettle that he would need for the plan God had for his life. That’s an interesting way to face our disappointments and trials – call on God, learn from them, go on to worship God in the midst of them that His strength can work through our weakness to show Himself strong!
Forgotten? No, definitely not! David was in the midst of the refining process to become God’s tool, to become the King that would usher in the reign of the King of Kings; the throne and the Kingdom that would never end!
I close with a quote by Jim Elliott: “The saint who advances on his knees, will never have to retreat.”