Psalm 13: How Long? How Long? How Long? Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Psalms)
by John Lowe
4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
The trial that David was going through at this time required he give up some things, such as his personal comfort, a permanent home, a peaceful life, and many associations with friends and family. What a lesson there is in that for us today. We can afford to give up a few things in life if we are going for a crown. We don’t have to have everything we want. We can give up a few liberties, such as watching hours of TV at night, or going to places of worldly amusement, especially when we tell the Lord we don’t have time to ponder and pray. We don’t have to have two jobs. We expect our missionaries to live by faith. Why should they have to when we don’t? We can give up a few loyalties. The devil is very clever. He will get us all wrapped up in something, good activities, good commitments and see to it that these things take up our time, time that belongs first and foremost to Christ, secondly to our family, or to the church.
The enemy would rejoice if he could get to David. The rejoicing of the enemy would not only be against David but also against God, so he prays that the enemy will not get the upper hand. After having heaved his awful sigh of sorrow, he continues in prayer, and he finally settles back in wonderful faith and trust in God. THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL PSALM.
God must take note of David’s plight and send help quickly in order to avert two disasters. The first would be David’s death and the second would be the jubilant boasting of his enemy.
“Rejoice” is literally, “shout as in triumph.” “I am moved” means “I have been cast down from a firm position.” If David was to waver, the faithful people of the land would think that God was unable to fulfill His own promises.
5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
Although no spoken answer to David’s prayer is recorded, a real relief comes over this troubled soul. His trust is based on God’s loving kindness, his rejoicing upon God’s salvation, his singing upon God’s bountiful care. He has found true peace by total trust in God.
David had moved to the final stage of the soul’s experience in a time of trial and testing. He had come through tears to truth and through truth to triumph. Some people have wondered how David could swing so swiftly from gloom to gladness. The secret is found in the middle section of the psalm where he gets his eyes firmly fixed on the Lord his God, Jehovah, and his Elohim.
After all he had been through, he could still say, “My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” Is this salvation from sin? Probably that is included. Is this salvation from self? Probably that is included too. Is this salvation from Satan? Surely that is included. But probably this salvation is also salvation from Saul. David is standing now on the victory side. So can we, because our salvation includes victory from situations—in the Lord’s good time and way. God’s mercy (steadfast love) was all that David needed for it would never fail—“In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old” (Isa. 63:9). God’s people don’t live on explanations, they live on promises, and those promises are as unchanging as the character of God.
6 I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Have David’s actual immediate circumstances changed? No. Has Saul called off his bloodhounds and bullies? No. Is Saul dead? No. Has David received a new shipment of arms? No. Nothing has changed. But David can sing because God hasn’t changed. His despondency is changed to confidence as his faith lays hold of four characteristics of the Lord: His steadfast love, His delivering intervention, His readiness to give that which truly delights men, and His abounding goodness to the very man who had been restless. This impressible hope, always clarified and crystalized by prayer, is one of the constant features of the psalter (cf. also 1 Cor. 15:19; Heb. 6:18-19).
Notice that David put everything in the past tense: “He has dealt bountifully with me.” The change in his situation is so sure David reckons it as already having happened. No wonder he could sing!
The word “bountifully” focuses on the goodness of God and His generosity in dealing with His people in grace—“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things . . .” (Ps. 103:2-5).