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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 13

Verse 1

How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

Psalms 13:1-6.-The believer's cry to Yahweh, because of the enemy's exaltation; his daily sorrow, while Yahweh seems to forget him (Psalms 13:1-2); prayer for the light of deliverance from death (Psalms 13:3-4); he is revived by the assurance of salvation, so that he sings joyful thanksgivings (Psalms 13:5-6).

How long - four times repeated; implying the protracted trials of the Psalmist. A feeling bordering on despair must at times have tempted David, after Saul's persecutions had continued for years, and no hope of a termination appeared. His experiences adapted him to speak a word in season to those exposed to protracted and wearing-out afflictions. Some have considered this psalm as the complaint of the Israelite Church in her bondage and darkness, praying for the coming of Messiah as her deliverer. The four-fold cry, "How long?" thus refers to the four-fold captivity of the Jews, the Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Grecian, and the Roman.

Verse 2

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

How long shall I take (literally, put) counsel in my soul? - when thou, the Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6), couldest suggest one to ensure immediate deliverance. Hopeless perplexity is described, wherein the believer now thinks of one plan, now of another, and finally gives up all as being all alike of no avail. Such was David's state when, hunted "like a partridge upon the mountains," he sought refuge at one time in the caves and hills, at another among the Moabites, at another among the Philistines; and at last, brought to his wits' ends, he despondingly said, "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul" (1 Samuel 27:1). Nor was the outward affliction his chief trouble: the most bitter drop in his cup was the seeming indifference of God to his pain-the "hiding" of his heavenly Father's "face" from him (Psalms 13:1).

Verse 3

Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

Prayer follows complaint the believer's case. Instead of complaints against God to man, the believer brings all to God; instead of turning from God, he makes sorrows a ground for turning to God.

Consider and hear me, O Lord. As David had complained of four evils (Psalms 13:1-2), so he begs four goods. To the 'Lord's forgetting' and 'hiding His face from him' (Psalms 13:1), he opposes, "Consider (look upon me with favour) and hear (answer) me" [ habiyTaah (H5027) `ªneeniy (H6030)]. To the 'taking counsel' and 'and having sorrow in the heart daily' (Psalms 13:2), he opposes, "lighten mine eyes:" to his "enemy" being "exalted over" him (Psalms 13:2) he opposes, "Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him" (Psalms 13:4).

Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep (the sleep of) death - a "perpetual sleep" (Jeremiah 51:39; Jeremiah 51:57). Primarily literal death. The failure of vital power betrayed itself in his lack-luster eyes. 'Enlighten my eyes' is tantamount to, Restore to me the vital power well-nigh gone. So Jonathan's "eyes were enlightened" (1 Samuel 14:27; 1 Samuel 14:29), when, after death's darkness was veiling his eyes, he tasted the honey-comb and revived. Compare Ezra 9:8. Secondarily, as the withdrawal of the experience of God's favour was the chief among David's trials, so the restoration of it was the chief good that he longed for, including all other goods.

Verse 4

Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

Lest ... those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved - namely, from my faith and steadfastness of walk with God (Luke 22:31). David pleads that the honour of God would be compromised if the enemy should prevail, and God's servant become the exulting jest of the ungodly. An effectual plea with God (Deuteronomy 32:27).

Joyful confidence follows as the fruit of prayer, while he is still praying (Isaiah 65:24).

Verses 5-6

But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.

But I have trusted in thy mercy [ checed (H2617 )]; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. David's 'rejoicing' in the Lord's salvation, which he anticipates by faith, stands in contrast to the enemy's rejoicing in his anticipated fall.

Because he hath dealt bountifully with me - the Hebrew [ gaamal (H1580)] commonly means to requite; here, to deal bountifully with him, making up for his former adversity, as in Psalms 119:17; Psalms 142:7; Zechariah 9:12; Isaiah 40:2. The Septuagint, Vulgate, the Ethiopic versions, and 'the Great English Bible,' (so the Book of Common Prayer), add, 'Yea, I will praise the name of the Lord Most Highest.' The addition is not in the Hebrew, and is probably taken from Psalms 7:1-17, end.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.