Commentary on Psalm 13, by Ben Baran – BIBL 3452 class assignment for Dr. George Snyder
David cries out to the Lord in this psalm, asking how long He will leave him in his current condition. David is being persecuted and attacked by his enemies, and he feels defeated, as if the Lord has “turned away” from him. As he calls out to the Lord, he feels as if the Lord is not answering him or blessing him in the ways he is used to. David probably feels like we do at times – alone. We feel alone, like God has somehow abandoned us, even though He hasn’t. David continues to wrestle with his thoughts, have sorrow in his heart, and wonders just how long his enemies will keep having victory over him. He asks the Lord to answer him, and not only that, but to help him understand and to have “life” again. He says that if God doesn’t answer him, he will sleep in death and his enemies will have the glory. In some ways, this seems like a warning from David to God, a way to get the Lord to answer him.
After this, the psalm dramatically changes. David goes from calling out for answers to trusting the Lord and praising Him. He ends the psalm by saying that in light of everything he will trust the Lord. He takes comfort in His unfailing love and salvation and praises Him for all the good He has done for him in times past. I think this psalm takes the regular progression of our prayers in difficult times. We start off by crying out to God and asking Him why He has left us – why He has allowed everything to happen to us. Then we ask Him to “show up” and deliver us from all our troubles. While we are saying all of this, He reminds us who He is and all that He has done for us, giving us the strength to keep moving forward. We realize that in light of our troubles we can, and need to, trust the Lord and take comfort in Him, so that we can continue living for Him.