How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
“How long?…How long?…How long?….How long?….” Verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 13 paint a picture of discouragement and potential defeat as David poured his heart out before the Lord, yet there is a turning point in verse 5 as he declared “But I have trusted in Your mercy.”
At this point in his journey, David learned that in every life situation, even the most difficult times, he could trust in God’s mercy. Even though he was being tracked and persecuted by King Saul and his armies, David trusted in God’s mercy. When his life was in danger, causing him to spend long, dark nights in hiding, he trusted in God’s mercy. Because God forgave his horrendous sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, He trusted in God’s mercy. His own beloved son Absalom rose up against him, plotting to take over the kingdom and still David chose to trust in God’s mercy. If we study every event in David’s life, we will get a clear picture of why, as he poured out his heart to the Lord in despair in Psalm 13, he chose to declare “But I have trusted in Your mercy.” (verse 5) He realized that it was only God’s mercy that pulled him through his circumstances.
So…remembering how bountifully God had dealt with him produced a response in David, even as he was crying out to God. His response? He chose to rejoice in God’s salvation and to sing praises to Him. Wait…maybe I don’t understand this Psalm… David is lamenting that God is silent, is distant, and wonders if he’s been forgotten. He fears the enemy will overtake him. Maybe I don’t get it. In this very situation David chose to rejoice and sing to God?…to keep trusting in His mercy? How could he do that?? Ahh…David looked back and remembered God’s mercy and His goodness towards him in every situation in the past. That gave him peace in the present and hope for the future. He knew he could trust God’s mercy…ALWAYS!
So I look at my own life: There are times when I don’t like or understand the situation; when I can’t see because of the darkness; when pain, like a belligerent intruder, won’t budge. At times the long-awaited answer doesn’t come, and occasions when the answer isn’t the one I had expected. Like David, there are times when I have more questions than answers, and I wonder if God is even working on my case. There are times when I also ask “How long?…”
How do I respond in those situations? Like David? As I cry out to God, I want to remember how good God has been to me in the past, in spite of my present circumstances. I can clearly see how God has shown me His goodness and mercy, often unexpectedly and undeservedly. It was only His mercy that brought me through. So today I want to respond by choosing to trust in His mercy for my actual, present situation. The turning point comes in my life, too, when I chose to trust in God’s mercy and I declare with David:
“But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5,6)