How Long, O Lord?

By: Rev. Jon Oliphant, Associate Pastor of First ARP Church in Rock Hill, SC

Psalm 13:1-6
 “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 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? — But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

“God where are you in the midst of this?” “Father, how is this part of your plan?” Have you ever asked those questions? Maybe you have done so after the loss of a loved one. Or perhaps you are asking them now after several months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in Psalm 13, we find hope in the midst of our confusion for David offers heartfelt questions (vs. 1-2), an honest prayer (vs. 3-4), and a hopeful remembrance (vs. 5-6).

David begins with four powerful questions in the midst of his trial. Now we don’t know exactly what he was facing: perhaps it was when he was fleeing from Saul or when Absalom tried to take the throne from him. Whatever the context, he is filled with emotion. He feels that God has forsaken him and has hidden His face from him. This is a dark place for David. Yet I am encouraged by the openness here. David doesn’t sugarcoat anything.

We can learn from David and follow his example by crying out to the Lord and voicing our struggles. We don’t have to pretend that everything is okay with God when we pray. Let your Heavenly Father know how you are really doing with all that is going on. He already knows anyway, but it will do your heart a world of good.

David continues with an honest prayer. He begs the Lord to hear and answer him. David wasn’t theologically dumb: he knew that God hears prayer. However, he reveals some of his feelings in this request. Often we can feel like God isn’t hearing our prayers. So David asks God to consider and answer. He needs Divine intervention.

We can ask God to hear and respond to us. This doesn’t mean that we will get an audible answer. God speaks to us through His Word, the Bible. God may hear our prayer and give us comfort through a particular passage. Or He may impress upon someone to call us and encourage us.

Finally, David closes the psalm with a hopeful remembrance. In the midst of his grief and confusion, he returns to the ultimate source of hope: God Himself. He trusts in God’s steadfast love and his heart rejoices in God’s salvation. How does David know about God’s steadfast love and salvation? It is through Scripture. David has read the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the bible) and knows it well. He has read about God’s faithfulness. Moreover, he has experienced it first hand.

We must return to God’s steadfast love as well. That’s why we must saturate ourselves in God’s Word. If you don’t know where to start, read through the Psalms or the Gospel of John. Remember God’s saving work in your life. And perhaps, like David, you can sing to the Lord because He has indeed dealt bountifully with you.

Prayer –  “Father, I thank you for the gift of your Word that speaks directly to my heart. Help me to be honest with you about how I am doing through this pandemic. Help me to find my hope in your steadfast love and salvation. Amen.”

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