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Bible Commentaries

Hamilton Smith's Writings

Psalms 13

Verses 1-6

PSALM 13

The faith of the godly remnant in circumstances in which they are apparently forgotten by God.

In the course of this group of psalms (11-15) the distress of the godly soul deepens. In Psalm 11 he sees the “foundations” going: in Psalm 12 the godly man ceases and the faithful fail from among the children of men; in this psalm (13) the soul reaches the deepest point of distress, for the circumstances would make it appear that God Himself has forgotten the soul.

(v. 1) Though tried by evil without and fears within, the grace of God sustains the soul. Hence the cry, “How long?” This is the language of faith that clings to God, knowing that He will put a limit to the trials of His people, and the evil of the wicked. Faith can ask, “How long wilt thou forget?” in the midst of circumstances which seem to say, “For ever.”

(v. 2) Under the pressure of the circumstances the soul turns in upon itself - taking counsel in its own soul apart from God. The weary reasonings of the mind bring no relief. The result of self-occupation, as ever, is to fill the heart with sorrow, and to give the enemy an occasion to triumph over the soul.

(v. 3) Relief is found in prayer which turns the soul from self to the Lord, with the immediate result that the eyes are lightened - the spiritual vision is cleared. Turning in upon self darkens the heart with sorrow; looking out to the Lord lightens the eyes.

(vv. 4-5) With eyes enlightened the soul sees clearly the aims of the enemy, and that the resource of the godly is found in the mercy and salvation of the Lord. Occupied with himself he can only see his weakness and the power of the enemy in relation to himself. Having turned to the Lord, he sees the enemy in relation to the Lord. Whereas the heart was filled with sorrow when occupied with its own reasonings (v. 2), now the heart rejoices in view of the mercy and salvation of the Lord.

(v. 6) Having turned to the Lord, the faith of the soul realizes and trusts in the loving-kindness of the Lord, and not in personal merit, nor in the justness of his cause. This brings relief so that the soul passes from the distress caused by occupation with circumstances to rejoicing in view of the Lord's salvation. The joy of his heart finds an outlet in the praise of his lips. The soul breaks forth in a song to the Lord, because the Lord hath dealt bountifully with him. Occupied with the enemy's works he was plunged into deepest distress. Occupied with the Lord's bountiful dealings he breaks forth into song.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 13". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/psalms-13.html. 1832.