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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 13

Verses 1-6


David mournfully complains, that God delays to comfort and deliver him ; and prays for help, that his enemy might not insult over him, 1- 4. Trusting in the mercy of God, he expects to rejoice, and to sing his praises, 5, 6.

Psalms 13:1-6:

V. 1- 4. ’ David was in some great distress, when he indited this psalm, either by the persecution of Saul, or of Absalom. Theodoret thinks the latter: ’ and gives this reason for it : That the trouble which Saul gave him was before his great sin, and so he was full of ’ confidence ; but that of Absalom was after it, which ’ made him cry out in this doleful manner.’ Dp. Patrick.

A concurrence of inward and outward trouble made the Psalmist fear, lest God should have forgotten to be gracious towards him, having cast him out of his presence, to be no more regarded. (Note, Psalms 77:5-12.) But .could the Lord really intend thus finally and eternally to reject him, and to hide his face from him ? Would he always leave him to perplex himself with vain counsels and contrivances, and to be oppressed with melancholy thoughts, without inward comfort, or outward relief?

Would he permit his cruel enemy, who was also an enemy to religion, to insult over him ? He could not suppose this would be the case ; and he begged that God would think of his heavy sorrows, so as to direct him in his perplexity, by giving him heavenly wisdom ; to cheer him with divine consolations ; and to relieve his distresses : lest he should die in darkness and despondency, and thus give occasion for exultation to his impious foes. Whatever enemy the Psalmist especially meant, Satan, our common enemy, was not forgotten.

’ How would the powers of darkness boast, ’ If but one praying soul were lost ! ’ Watts.

V. 5, 6. David here owns his unworthiness, as well as his misery : but as the salvation of God originated from his rich mercy to sinners ; and as he was conscious that his whole dependence was placed on that mercy, and not in any claim he could make on divine justice ; he took courage from this consideration, and rising above his distresses, he became confident that he should soon rejoice in God, as delivered and comforted by him ; and celebrate, in glad songs of praise, the gracious interposition of the Lord in his behalf.


The most eminent believers are sometimes left to great discouragement, either for the chastisement of their sins, or the trial of their faith. When former comforts are suspended, and a sense or fear of divine wrath unites with an accusing conscience ; or when temptations stir up the corruptions of the heart, and they can find no deliverance from the painful conflict ; they may then be led to suspect, that their past experience was a delusion, and to fear that the Lord intends to cast them off for ever. At such times their fervent expostulations with God wdl very frequently be tinged with unbelieving fears. They cannot bear, that their Beloved should seem to forget them ; they are tormented at the thought of final separation from him ; they are wretched under the suspension of his comforts ; and they cannot but anxiously enquire, " how ’ong " this painful trial is to last, and whether it must be for ever. They inwardly take counsel about ascertaining the state of their souls, discovering the cause of their troubles, or devising how to obtain deliverance ; but all seeir.s in vain : every day appears an age, while continual sorrow oppresses their hearts ; and they are ready to trouble themselves with the idea, how Satan and their other enemies are triumphing in their fallen state. All this however is intended for their humiliation ; that they may search out and repent of their sins, renounce every false confidence and worldly idol, and be made more fervent in prayer. They will not then say, " There is no hope : " but after his example, who " being in an agony prayed more earnestly," they will call upon God to consider their trouble, and to lighten their eyes ; to confirm their hope, direct their path, and renew their comforts ; that they may not lie down in darkness and despair. They will plead with him the triumphs of the ungodly and of Satan, if they should be left under the power of sin, in despondency, or to perish ; and surely it cannot be for his glory, that his worshippers should be insulted over by his enemies ! In this way, they will pour out their prayers, renouncing all confidence, save in the mercy of their God through the Saviour’s blood : and at some times suddenly, at others gradually, they will find their burdens removed, and their comforts restored. Believing, they then rejoice in his salvation, and their doleful complaints are changed for songs of praise and thanksgiving.

(Notes, Isaiah 12:1-6:) But, even though long delays take place, they who trust in the Lord’s mercy, shall at length rejoice in his salvation ; they shall allow that their fears and complaints were unnecessary ; and shall joyfully and gratefully acknowledge, that " he hath dealt bountifully with them."

(P. O. Job 9:1-35:) And it may be of use to the tempted and discouraged believer to recollect, that the Saviour, soon after his doleful complaint, " My God, my God, why " hast thou forsaken me ? " subjoined, " It is finished ; " and, " Father, into thy hand I commend my spirit : " and that the depth of his humiliation immediately preceded the dawn of his glorious exaltation.

(Notes, Matthew 27:46-50. John 6:28-30.)

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 13". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.