June 3: How Long, O Lord? Psalm 13
The psalms are a unique gift to the church. They are written from the vantage point of man’s approach to God in times of crises, in times of joy, fear, confession, and the many other experiences of life. Psalm 13 stands out as a psalm of lament, as David articulates with clarity his grief before God in a time of trial and struggle. The nature of a lament is generally expressing sorrow over some trial, followed by moving to a plea for help, and concluding with words of thanksgiving and praise for the faithfulness of God. These psalms are meant to move us from despair to delight and from trial to triumph. Inward delight actually comes from despair as we trust in the character of God and reflect on his past mercies toward us. Take time to reflect on the past mercies of God in your life so that you might be prepared to patiently endure future suffering by meditating on the goodness of God.
C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
“When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels— welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.”
“One new discovery of the glory of Christ’s face, will do more toward scattering clouds of darkness in one minute than examining old experience by the best marks that can be given through a whole year.”
“For the sake of the world, then, we must take this tone of voice in the Wisdom literature seriously, with its awkward question, its proving observations, its acceptance of limitations of our finitude. It is part of our missional responsibility to do so. The presence of such texts in our Bible is a challenge to unthinking dogmatism that misapplies undoubted biblical principles in circumstances where they are not relevant (as did the friends of Job). Such biblical texts are also a rebuke to simplistic naivety that draws automatic and reversible direct lines between faith and material rewards or between sin and sickness. Mission that ignores the warnings of Wisdom ends up in the folly and lies of the so-called prosperity gospel, on the one hand, or in the problem-denying triumphalism of the worst kids of arrogant fundamentalism on the other.”
Speak about a time when you have felt abandoned, distant from God or left alone in the midst of a trial. What emotions in Psalm 13 express the struggles that you faced in those circumstances?
What have you found to be your natural reaction in times of difficulty and crisis?
From the psalm, what do we learn is an appropriate response to trial? What is the distinction between groaning and grumbling in the midst of hurt?
How does David seek God in the midst of crises and what can we learn from his response in this pslam? How does David move from pleading in pain to praising God for his faithfulness and salvation?
In what way does our understanding of God’s love in Christ transform your current crises into a point of worship?
How can you employ this psalm in being an encouragement to others?
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