A Psalm for the Satisfied Struggler
Before I started working at RPTS, I taught Latin at a classical study center for homeschoolers. So, we begin today by looking at the word satisfied which comes from the Latin word satis, meaning enough. I was recently outlining Psalm 13, and in this beautiful Psalm I found David to be what I am calling a Satisfied Struggler.
This short, but powerful, text nicely breaks down into three sections: David’s questions for the Lord, his calling upon the Lord, and his commitment to the Lord.
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have 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.
In the first two verses, David asks, “How long?” Perhaps you have asked this as well! David begins by asking questions about God. Is He near? Does He still remember David, or has He turned away? David then focuses on himself and his situation, both internally and externally. He ponders the struggle he has in the inner man, wrestling with his own thoughts and his sorrows. He also thinks about what is going on around him, the seeming victory of his foes.
With these questions in his heart, David moves to prayer in verses 3 and 4. It caught my attention that the verbs are imperatives (commands), and I wondered at such a thing when speaking to God! I checked in with Dr. C. J. Williams, our Old Testament professor, who informed me that the imperative in Hebrew is a common form of request in the Psalms that implies “boldness but without bossiness." Thus we see David boldly, yet humbly, petitioning the Lord to … look on him, answer him, and give light to his eyes. He makes these requests lest he sleep in death and his enemies have reason to rejoice.
The Psalm moves forward dramatically with the word BUT in verse 5. Having asked his questions and called upon the Lord in prayer, David commits himself to action. He is not trusting in his own strength, but he has turned his thinking to the truth that he knows. He says that he will trust in God’s unfailing love, that his heart will rejoice in the Lord’s salvation, and that he will sing to the Lord. Through his questions and his prayer, he has resolved to think and act upon the unfailing love of his God and the salvation given to him by his Redeemer, without any evidence that his questions have been answered or that his situation has changed. His satisfaction will be in thinking about who God is and what He has done. David moves from speaking about his enemies rejoicing (v. 4) to making a commitment that he will be the one to rejoice (v.5).
Friend, are you a struggler today? Is there something in your life about which you have asked the question, How Long? Will you commit to seek the Lord in prayer, to trust in His unfailing love, and to rejoice in the salvation that is yours in Christ Jesus? You can be a Satisfied Struggler. The Lord has been good to you – it is enough – so sing!