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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 13


To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

The emphatic עד אנה ( ad-anah) “how long,” and the complaint of sufferings long continued, sound like an echo from the depth of the captivity, to which many have assigned this psalm. But, as it also fitly applies to the prolonged persecutions by Saul, and bears in the title the name of David as author, among whose psalms it is placed by the compiler of the Hebrew Psalter, it may be better to follow the drift of modern authority, and place it at the latter end of the Sauline persecution. But, above all, it belongs to the pious in all ages who suffer as David did. The psalm has three strophes of two verses each: Psalms 13:1-2, the complaint; Psalms 13:3-4, the prayer; Psalms 13:5-6, the joyful victory of faith. The gradation of mental exercise from the complaint, through the prayer, to the victory, is beautiful.

Verse 1

1. How long Literally, Until when? A most natural outgushing of the heart under long continued sorrow and unrelieved oppression. Psalms 94:3; Zechariah 1:12; Revelation 6:10. Its occurrence four times in Psalms 13:1-2, indicates the violence of the persecution, and the languishing strength of the sufferer.

Forget me… for ever The “forgetting,” and “hiding the face,” was in appearance only, not in reality. The language is not that of doubt or complaint, but of simple suffering coming from the human aspect of affairs, and speaking of things phenomenally, as we would say. The whole Bible is full of examples where, with the sincerest piety and faith, the sufferer gives forth the voice of nature.

Verse 2

2. Take counsel in my soul Literally, “put counsel in my soul.” How long shall this life of peril and anxiety compel me daily to new plans and new cares for my safety?

Verse 3

3. Consider… me From dejection of mind David turns to prayer with a more softened and hopeful tone. “Consider;” that is, behold, look; give direct, immediate, attention.

Lighten… eyes His sorrow had dimmed the lustre of his eyes, which the divine joy and salvation alone could restore.

On the figure, see 1Sa 14:27 ; 1 Samuel 14:29.

Sleep of death Literally, lest I shall sleep the death. This language is the strongest that the Hebrew supplies to denote that without help from God death must soon end the dreadful conflict. See Jeremiah 51:39

Verse 4

4. Lest mine enemy say Not only is his own life in danger, but a further reason for divine interference is the reproach that would otherwise fall upon the cause of God. The psalmist’s overthrow would be the triumph of unrighteousness.

Verse 5

5. But I have trusted The past tense indicates the habit of his life. Until now he has trusted, and he is suddenly strengthened in hope by the memory.

Verse 6

6. I will sing Faith rises to the point of victory, and joy ends the bitter outcry of Psalms 13:1-2. Luther: “While Satan rages and roars about him, he meanwhile sings quietly his little psalm.”

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.