Summary: God allows sorrows and troubles to exercise our faith and show His mercy.
We’re going to stray away from our Godhead study for this week, but instead of going back to Genesis I want to look at the thirteenth Psalm:
How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 2How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? 3Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; 4Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. 5But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. 6I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
For some reason there’s this odd belief that Christians are never depressed; we never get down because we’ve got the joy of the Lord. But here we see this man after God’s own heart, and he’s in deep sorrow. We don’t know what’s causing him to feel this way, but he feels like God has abandoned him. He feels like God is never coming back, but then he prays and he’s upheld by his faith in God’s mercy.
Tonight I want to work through these verses with you and see if we can’t find some comfort for ourselves. Let’s start with the first two verses and see the cry of:
“How long?”—A cry from sorrow
How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 2How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Notice that “how long” appears four time. How long will you forget me? How long will you hide your face? How long will I have to sink into my depressed thoughts? How long will I be on the losing side of this war?
Now we know that God never forgets us, but there are times when He hides His face. There are times when we feel as though He’s forgotten all about us and He’s not coming back. I can think of a New Testament example when the disciples were out on the boat in the midst of the windstorm. It says He came unto them at the fourth watch (Mk. 6:48) which was just before dawn. “Sorrow may last for the night,” it says (Ps. 30:5). Another time He lie sleeping while the disciples feared for their lives during a terrible storm (Mk. 4:38). He let them reach a point where they actually asked, “Don’t you care that we’re dying?”
And for us there are similar circumstances. Maybe we’re in great danger or very sick. Maybe there’s something causing us to feel troubled. Maybe we’re just depressed for no reason or full of doubts. These are the times when we sense that God is hiding His face and He’s forgotten all about us. It often feels unendurable and I suppose it might well be if not for grace. It’s the time when life feels more like a burden than it’s worth everything seems futile and empty; it’s painful just to be alive.
But these times are normal. These are times of being refined: “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Is. 48:10). These are the times of spiritual warfare against the prowling lion; these are the times which force us to be strong in the strength of the Lord (Eph. 6:10).
And so, David suffers until he prays:
“Consider and hear”—A prayer for salvation
3Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; 4Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
His prayer is that God will consider him and hear his request. The Hebrew actually means to “look” which is fitting because he feels like God’s face is turned away. “Just look at me and hear me. Answer me.”
His request is “lighten my eyes.” You think about the sparkle that’s in a man’s eyes when he’s happy and well and how that disappears in great sorrow or death. He’s saying, “Revive me before I die; bring me away from all this sorrow!” He’s so overwhelmed that he thinks it may end in death.
His enemies seem to prevail over him. They rejoice because he isn’t so steady and because his foundation doesn’t seem so sure. You can almost hear them asking, “Where is your God now?” It’s like the opposite of when Elijah taunted the priests of Baal: “Maybe it’s your God’s turn to be on vacation or asleep.” (I Kings 18:27).