Summary: Four times the words formed on David’s lips—“How long?” Pursued relentlessly by Saul, David wondered what was delaying the chariot of God.

March 10, 2014

Tom Lowe

Psalm 13

Title: How Long? How Long? How Long?

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

Psalm 13 (NKJV)

1 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;

4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

6 I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.


David wrote this psalm when he was depressed and exhausted, perhaps while he was being pursued. He may have been hiding at this time in the cave of Adullam, while the Philistines were in the process of hunting him down. Day after day he found himself in a desperate situation. His troubles with King Saul had gone on year after year and he was dispirited and discouraged. He had already been driven to desperate human measures to escape his relentless foe. This psalm was wrung out of the extremity of his soul. He simply could not go on, not for another day, not for another hour, not for another minute. But man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. When we are at our wit’s end, without resources, at a loss for a way, perplexed and desperate—that is usually when we see God begin to work.

Four times the words formed on David’s lips—“How long?” Pursued relentlessly by Saul, David wondered what was delaying the chariot of God. Would help never come to free him from the four terrible burdens that were crushing him?

• He felt as if God had forgotten him.

• He felt he was cut-off from the Lord’s favor.

• He experienced deep depression in his soul daily.

• He suffered the constant humiliation of being on the wrong side.

The initial mood of the psalm is one of tedious frustration and strained patience; but the very act of appealing to God stimulates the psalmist’s hope so that the final mood is one of joyous appreciation of God’s work and purpose in his life. Prayer is not only the proper reaction of the godly to trouble, it is also the medicine against depression in the face of it. By the grace of God, David turned his sufferings into songs and left those songs behind to encourage us in our trials (2 Cor. 1:2-11).


1 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

God had promised David the throne of Israel, yet that day of coronation seemed further and further away. Saul was doing evil things and God wasn’t judging him, and yet David was doing good things and felt abandoned by the Lord. David was certainly disturbed by what the enemy was doing, but he was more concerned by what the Lord was not doing. How long? How long? How long? How long? It is David’s rhetorical way to say, “Here, lord! I’m talking to you. I’m trying to get through to you!” It is a question that even the saints in heaven ask—“They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (Rev. 3:10). It seemed to David that God had forgotten him: “How long will you forget me, O Lord? Forever?” David felt the Lord in heaven had forgotten him. Worse than that, he thought that the Lord had forsaken him: “How long will You hide Your face from me?” For the Christian, the worst thing that can happen is for them to be out of touch with God, for that brings the personality to the point of breakdown and leaves us at the mercy of foes, human and spiritual.

The phrase “Hide your face” suggests the withdrawing of God’s presence and help and normally implied discipline because of sin—“Then they will cry to the Lord, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds (Mic. 3:4). The psalmist’s enemies may have drawn that conclusion, but he shows no consciousness of sin (cf. 6:1-3). One thing we have to learn is that God is never in a hurry. The kind of work He wishes to accomplish in our souls can be accomplished only if sufficient time is given to allow His plans to ripen and mature. Our seeming abandonment by God, does not mean that we have been forsaken or forgotten. God knows what He is doing. The intensity of our trial is controlled from on high. He has something to teach us. He has an end product in mind. Things are moving forward but so slowly, from our impatient viewpoint, that we cannot see it. But He can.

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