Psalm 13: Waiting for God

Psalm 13 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

When my brother moved to London from South Africa a few years back, we were forced to communicate via letter. For those of you who don’t know what that is… well, lets just say that it was revolutionary at the time of the carrier pigeon. We weren’t Christians at the time but I still remember the way he likened the experience of letter writing to prayer. You write the letter, send it off and wait.

There are times in the Christian life when we are desperate for answers to our prayers. Whether they are prayers for loved ones, help in times of suffering or discernment about the future, sometimes we literally ache for God’s intervention. It is also at these times that we discover just how bad we are at waiting for anything…especially God. These are periods where we are vulnerable but they can also be tremendously fruitful.

This psalm gives us a great model of how to guard our hearts and minds as we wait on the Lord.

Pray fervently and persistently

How long, Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

If I’m honest, my greatest struggle with prayer is not doubt or despondency but apathy. It just seems like too much effort to persistently lay myself bare before God. Besides, I have more than enough on my plate at the moment! David however, is wrestler. He doesn’t let go of God. We could learn from this that waiting on God means spending time in persistent and fervent prayer.

Trust in his love

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

If the previous verses are about striving to keep hold of God, this verse is about remembering that it is God has has first taken hold of you. His grip of love is stronger than ours.

That phrase “unfailing love” typically is used to describe the love God has showed to us through his covenant promises. David is trusting that God will keep his wedding vows to his people. This is no passive exercise but rather a deliberate and conscientious effort to meditate on the love of God. It is also why trusting in God’s love is coupled with rejoicing in His salvation. His love has been chiefly demonstrated to us through the saving work of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son…” (John 3:16)

God’s loving gift of salvation through faith in Christ gives us confidence and perspective: confidence, in that we know God is working for our good and that he has not abandoned us; and perspective, by putting our small sufferings in the context of his promise of eternal life in his new world.

Sing praise to God

I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

No matter what you are going through, you still exist for the praise of his glory. Praising God is a wonderful tool with which to guard our attitudes as we wait for the Lord. It humbles us before God as we recognise again that we exist to serve him and not the other way around. It reminds us of God’s goodness as recount all he has done for us. It is also pretty difficult to stay miserable when you are singing praise songs to God.

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