Psalm 13 - Sorrow in my heart

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To the leader. A Psalm of David.
1) How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2) How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3) Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4) and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

5) But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6) I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13
Proper 8, Sunday between June 26 and July 2, Year A

This psalm expresses anguish and hope, a plea for help, and describes a relationship with the Lord, all in six compact verses.

It starts with a frequent question. "How long, O Lord"? We hear this in at least seven psalms, and elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures, because it is human to wonder when God will show up, when will God intervene on our behalf?

We worry that that God's face is hiding from us. An in shame, in pain, in sorrow, in fear... we may be tempted to hide our face.

We need and expect God's presence and God's action. When we are suffering, it may seem as though God is hiding from us, dodging our prayer, ignoring our need and refusing to remember us.

This is a true, authentic, and faithful prayer. When God does not show up, we might give up, we might write off this apparently unfaithful Lord, we might search for another or simply abandon hope. "How long" is a declaration of continued relationship.

And the truth-telling continues. Verse 2 expresses the suffering experienced in this condition. It is personal. It is painful. And it is lifted up to God's care. "How long"?

It is a matter of life and death. Without the Lord's answer, the outcome is not certain. I am shaken.

But not beaten. "Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!" Despite my plight, God's steadfast love, God's promised mercy is recalled. The very memory of God's goodness brings an attitude of blessing, of hope, into the midst of this distress. When we trust in God's steadfast, faithful, unshakeable love, we invoke the holy, we bring God's righteous power into relation with our situation.

As a matter of faith, we believe that God hears our prayer, and that God is faithful. We have heard God's promises and trust that God will exercise a preferential option for those who call upon the Lord.

We have asked, "How long"? And we wait, in faith. While we are in that "not-yet" time, what better way to wait, than singing. Prayer changes things. Singing changes the atmosphere, the spirit. "I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me."

Pixabay user tgageqd, Sad, dark, afraid. Public domain, Pixabay license.

* New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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