A typical lament reflects a common response to suffering in the Bible. In a typical lament, the sufferer addressed God, stated the complaint, expressed trust in God’s help, asked God for help in this situation, and repeated his confidence in God’s help. Some laments were amazingly candid about the writer’s fears and doubts, but the psalmist consistently turned to God for help. The psalmist often wondered why God did not intervene more quickly to alleviate the suffering, but he was confident of God’s concern for him. The psalmist patiently waited for God’s help and endured unjust suffering. Laments are basically protests of injustice and pleas to God for his justice to prevail.
In Psalm 13, Lamentation is a statement of faith entrusting God with our most serious questions. The prayer is in three parts: despair; verses 1-2, prayer; verses 3-4, and trust; verses 5-6. The despair is expressed in four “how long?” questions. The “how long” is balanced by David’s trust in God’s nontemporal “faithful love.” Trust is expressed in the promise to praise.
Sometimes all we need to do is talk over a problem with a friend to help put it in perspective. In this psalm, the phrase how long occurs four times in the first two verses, indicating the depth of David’s distress. He felt forgotten and invisible. David expressed his anxiety and sorrow to God and found strength. By the end of his prayer, he was able to profess hope and trust in God. Through prayer we can express our feelings and talk our struggles out with God. He helps us regain the right perspective, and this gives us peace.
David frequently lamented that God was slow to act on his behalf. We often feel this same impatience and doubt that God still cares. Evil and suffering seem to go unchecked, and we wonder when God will restrain them. But David affirmed that he would continue to trust God no matter how long he had to wait for God’s justice to be realized. When you feel as though your prayers are not being answered, remember David’s steadfast faith in God’s unfailing love.
David was faithful to God and trusted wholeheartedly in him, but he felt the pressure of his problems as much as anyone. Instead of giving up or giving in, however, David held on to his faith. In times of despair, it is much harder to hold on than to give up. But if you give up on God, you give in to a life of despair. Keep saying yes to God. Ask him to strengthen your grip on his promises and faithfulness.
David despaired at the odds against him. He knew that God could not be confined to any space, but he wrote poetically, expressing confidence that God would hear him when he prayed. God responds to us when we earnestly pray to him, no matter how dangerous or precarious the situation may be. We can overcome our anxieties in our darkest hours by holding on to God’s assurance that he is with us and is merciful to those who trust him as Lord over all.
When circumstances go against us, we may be tempted to think that God has abandoned us. But David reminds us that the opposite is true. When everything seems to go wrong, God stays with us and protects us. If a circumstance has turned against you, don’t doubt God’s Divine Presence – look around. He is right beside you!
God’s people experience moments when God seems to have vanished and to have forgotten us. Even then we can trust God’s love and praise him. He is good even to the sufferer.
The distraught psalmist David understood that to see God’s face is to be right with him and that the justice in this life is also a manifestation of God’s face. Revelation of God is our basic need. Too often we only realize this in times of crisis.
The psalmist praised the love of God, making it equivalent to the salvation of God. This expression of faith in the love of God was made when the writer was in the depths of despair or suffering. Even in the midst of difficulties we can trust the love and goodness of God and feel His Divine Presence. Salvation and trust belong together. We can trust because we know God loves us.
This whole psalm is a commentary on the grace of God and His love: God’s loving way of sustaining us in times of trouble and providing for our needs. In life’s most trying times, when even our family and friends deserts us, we can rely on God to hear our cries and to help us in every circumstance.
The lament invokes God’s name, describes the problem, condemns or complains about enemies, affirms confidence in God, petitions for help, and concludes in praise or blessing. A progression typical of laments appears here. David saw that many said God would not deliver him; yet he prayed confidently for deliverance. Finally he declared that deliverance is from God. Many of the “distress” psalms contain this contrast between a clouded opening in adversity with a confident close in faith. Expression of laments to God can become occasions for encouraging, instructing, and blessing the worshiping Christian community.
Christians can be equally honest with God in prayer. Taking our concerns about injustice and suffering to God is a basic part of the Christian response to evil and suffering. If we experience an injustice, we can approach God, knowing that eventually he will correct the situation. We may never see God’s correction in this life, but we still maintain hope and faith in God’s final victory.
As a worshiping Christian community we also affirm confidence in God and conclude with our praise and blessing to Him, for He has been good to us. God wants to pour out His protection, promises, and plenty beyond measure. He wants to bless you.
Now we say with David:
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. Amen.
God Bless you all.