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This little commentary on Psalm 13 first appeared on our "Bible Nuggets" Pages.  I have compiled it all together here to make your studying easier.  It's one of the most practical Passages in the Bible.

--- Dr. Mike Bagwell



 A Preacher in his Study






Let's take a little journey through one of the Psalms!  I'll almost guarantee you that most of us are not familiar with this one!  (It's a Psalm of David and is written to the "Chief Musician.")

Psalm 13

1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 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? 3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; 4 Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. 5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. 6 I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Let me give you a few "introductory" remarks about this passage of Scripture.

Charles Spurgeon nick-named this Scripture the "HOW LONG" Psalm! He then often called it the "howling" Psalm!       

Often with the Psalms of David expositors try to place it in some specific period in his life.  It just can't be done with this one!  It is definitely written during some period of great trial ... but that's about all we can say about its specific history!

One preacher says this:  "For every human "sigh" there is a divine "Psalm!"  (For every feeling you can have ... there's a passage in the Psalms to teach you how to properly respond to that feeling!)

The "Treasury of David" divides the Psalm into three parts.  The QUESTION of Anxiety (verses 1 and 2)!  The CRY of Prayer (verses 3 and 4)!  And the SONG of Faith (verses 5 and 6)! 

(If you preachers do not own a copy of Treasury of David, go buy one today! And please get an unabridged set!  It may be the best material on the Psalms in the English language today!  Spurgeon spent so long preparing this mammoth work that he once declared David was his "best friend!"  I'd say that's walking in some pretty good company!)

Old Matthew Henry said this Psalm presents the discouraged soul's "case and cure!"  David here is pouring out his very soul before God! 

The great thing about the Psalm is that David begins it discouraged (maybe even depressed) ... but by the end (only 5 verses later) he is encouraged and excited about the things of the Lord!

AND HIS METHOD OF GOING FROM THE DEPTHS OF DESPAIR TO THE HEIGHTS OF PRAISE ARE RIGHT IN THE PSALM FOR US TO OBSERVE (AND FOLLOW)!  If it worked for David ... it will work for us!  The same Holy Spirit Who helped David helps us too!

Another Bible teacher called our Psalm "a deeply moving picture of despair and trust!"  It is said to realistically depict true anguish of soul.  Then it immediately turns and pictures the victorious life of deep faith!

The fourfold repetition of "how long" emphasizes the intensity of despair David is experiencing.

BUT the threefold prayer calms everything!  (Consider!  Hear!  Lighten mine eyes!)

And the result?  Joy and singing!

Here's another "outline" of the whole passage:   EXPRESSION OF DESPAIR:  HOW LONG?  (verses 1 and 2)  THEN EXPRESSION OF PRAYER:  GIVE ME LIGHT! (verses 3 and 4)  LASTLY, EXPRESSION OF HOPE AND TRUST:  LET ME SING!  (verses 5 and 6).

The Lord willing, tomorrow we shall begin with the first verse!

I can barely wait! 

I believe I've gleaned a few "nuggets" already!

And before yesterday I was just "ignorant" of the beauty of this little jewel!

God, forgive me.

                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Verse 1:

Psalm 13 is certainly one of the "lesser known" passages of Scripture in the entire Old Testament.  Yet it is a perfect little "jewel!"

"How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?"            (Psalm 13:1)

It's obvious that the Psalmist (David) is discouraged.  (In fact, one could say that he's also impatient with the Lord!)

This verse is a classic example of how the writers of Scripture often just told the Lord exactly how they felt in any given situation!

They were honest with God!

"How long?"  This question is found four times in the first two verses of our short Psalm!

Spurgeon says "how long" ends up sounding like "howling!"  (In Psalm 6:3 David asks the Lord the very same question:  "How long?")

David is pouring out his very soul before the Lord!  Isn't that exactly what Peter said we should do?  1 Peter 5:7 --- "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

Furthermore, Paul says:  "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16   (That little verb "come boldly" is from the Greek word that combines "all" and "words" or "speech!"  It means "saying it all!")  Just tell it to Jesus!

When you're under pressure ... time seems to travel more slowly!  How long, O Lord?

The verb "forget" literally means to misplace something!  It implies something lost through neglect or inattention!  David is using some pretty strong language here!  (So did Jeremiah when He accused God of deceiving him!  Jeremiah 20:7 ---- "O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.")

Let me set your minds at ease!  God never has forgotten one of His children ... and never will!  Listen to Him in Isaiah 49:14-16.  "But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.  Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands!"

David accuses God of "hiding His Face" from him.  That's an Old Testament word picture.  For God's Face to look upon someone ... or to shine upon someone is typical of BLESSINGS in abundance!  For God to "hide His Face" is to remove those blessings the results are terrible!  In Psalm 51:9 David asks the Lord to hide His Face from David's sins!  I can find 7 times in the Old Testament where that string "hide Thy Face" is used ... every time of the Lord!  I think that Psalm 30:7 says it best:  "LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled."  (Wow!)

Really the only person (outside of those already in hell) who can say that God had totally forsaken Him is the Lord Jesus (on the Cross)!  Matthew 27:46 --- "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

We humans may think God has left us (and it may really seem so), but He is there!  (Standing somewhere in the shadows, you'll find Jesus!)  Listen to Job. Job 23:3 --- "Oh that I knew where I might find him (the Lord God)! that I might come even to his seat!"

Jesus has promised "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."  Matthew 28:20

I am so glad God understand our needs in those low times of discouragement and depression!

It is helping me just to see the great promises God has left for us New Testament believers!  He will NEVER forget us!  He can make His dear Face to shine upon us through our Lord Jesus Christ!

(Join us again as this Psalms unfolds!  David DOES NOT stay discouraged long! Victory is coming!  Just like it does ultimately for every child of God!)

Thank God for a Bible filled with "nuggets."

                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Verse 2:

David is at one of the lowest moments of his life! He is discouraged. Some would even say depressed.

Notice the verse for today:

"How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?"      Psalm 13:2

David is listening to his own soul! (I heard a preacher say earlier this week that we all spend too much time listening to ourselves. He said that instead of listening we should be talking to ourselves! Talking the WORD OF GOD to ourselves!)

The verb "shall I take" is a Hebrew expression ("shiyth") meaning to appoint, to fix, to set or to place. The verb almost indicates that David is a prisoner to his own thoughts (worries)! And the "time" sense of the verb is on-going action.

Is David all alone here? It seems so. No one else is mentioned in the whole Psalm but Davidís own enemies and then the dear Lord!

David taught Solomon that "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." (Proverbs 11:14)

The noun "counsel" is the word for advice or purpose. This word probably can also include oneís thoughts and meditations!

This battle is going on down in Davidís "soul." Thatís his "innermost being." The word means that which is "alive and breathing" within Davidís heart.

Then this war is more than just an emotional battle. It is spiritual in nature also! The whole man is involved!

"Sorrow" is (only 14 times in the whole Old Testament) a word for grief or anguish. David is afflicted in this conflict!

And the sorrow is unrelenting. It comes "daily." The word has a "root" that means to be hot ... as in the heat of the day! (Every time the sun rises ... David has sorrow in his heart!)

Talk about chronic discouragement!

Is there any hope?

(I canít wait until we get tot he rest of the verses of this great little Psalm. Iíll give you a "hint." VICTORY IS COMING!)

The noun "enemy" comes from a stem that means to "hate!"

"Exalted" means to be placed high above!

It appears that Davidís enemies are winning the battle!

What does one do when things are so very bad?

Let me stop and say that I am so glad that the Bible addresses situations like this. Every day is not bright and cheerful! All battles are not won! There are hard times in the life of every believer in Jesus Christ!


Well, that has to wait until tomorrow.

But, since Iím giving "hints" today anyway ... IN VERSE 3 DAVID PRAYS! I SAID, HE P-R-A-Y-S!!!

And once he does that ... things change quickly!

Todayís "nugget" may be tied into a whole vein of pure gold!

                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Verse 3:

The very "heart" of Psalm 13 is found in its third verse.  Let me show you what I mean.

"Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death."              (Psalm 13:3)

Here is David's "prayer." 

He asks the Lord for three things.  (His prayer becomes a "pattern" for us in our times of discouragement!)

Preacher, how do you know David's experience here is a "pattern" for us?  The Bible says so!  That's exactly what Paul means in 1 Corinthians 10:11.  There he says: "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."  The expression "all these things" refers to the Old Testament Scriptures.

David asks God to "consider" him.  The verb means "to look at, to inspect!"  (To scan!  To look at intently with care and pleasure!)  The verb here is an imperative.  David is in earnest prayer!  It's more than a casual passing request!

"Hear" is not the normal word for listening.  Rather it is the Hebrew verb that means "to answer!"  (To respond!) 

"Lighten" means to give light or to lighten up (or even in some instances "to become light")!  David is in darkness and needs the Light of God's Presence! Can a believer at times be in darkness!  According to Isaiah 50, yes!  (Isaiah 50:10 --- "Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.")

David literally feels that if God does not move on his behalf ... he will die!  (Paul was there a few times also!  Listen to him.  In 2 Corinthians 1:8 he says:  "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.")

But ... here's the good news!

God heard ... and answered ... and the rest of Psalm 13 is a "hallelujah" chorus!

Maybe prayer is the answer to our problems as well!  (Not "prayer" really!  But the God Who stands behind the prayer!)

If someone reading this column today is discouraged, follow David's prayer. Don't just read it ... pray it! 

God is faithful! 

He WILL meet your need!

It SURE made a difference for David!

I thank God for today's "Bible Nugget!"

                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Verse 4:

David is asking God for deliverance from two things.

He does not want to be defeated by the enemy.

And he does not want to be shaken in his faith!

Here's the way it is worded in Psalm 13:4.

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

The word "enemy" comes from a Hebrew root that means "to hate."

Now, you may be saying that you (as a Christian) have no enemies.  But that is just not so!  An ever increasing number of people hate you JUST BECAUSE you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ!  PLUS we all have an arch-enemy named satan!  The devil is a roaring lion who seeks to devour you!

David is here fearful of being overcome by his enemy!  So he asks God for deliverance!

The verb "prevailed" means "to be able" or to have "power to overcome."  It is also translated "endure" twice in Scripture.  (David wants to be still standing after the enemy has fallen!)

The verb "trouble" means to squeeze or cramp (a narrow or tight place).  It's like the whole world is closing in on you from all sides!  Pressure is heavy and crushing your very life!

David dislikes the idea of his being "moved."  That word means to waver or slip or shake or fall!  Listen to the promise in Psalm 16:8 --- "I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."  Remember what Jesus prayed for Peter when he was being "sifted" by the devil?  "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Luke 22:32

David recognizes that when he "falls," the enemy rejoices!  That verb "to rejoice" literally means "to spin around" in delight!

Christian, let us ask God to keep us faithful and away from sin for two reasons! Firstly, to bring glory to His dear Name!  Then to keep the enemy from rejoicing in our fall!

Here are two "fears" that motivated David to prayer!

Now, that's an idea!

Let your fears be just that ... motivators to seek the face of God in fervent prayer!

We serve a fearless God!

One of His most often used encouragements is "Fear not" little child, for I am with you!

I believe I've just found a precious little "nugget!"

                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Verse 5:

In Psalm 13:5 David says ...

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

It is here that we have the first indication that David's focus has shifted!

In all the Psalm's previous verses we have had nothing but defeat. 

But suddenly (after the prayer of verse 3) everything changes for the better!

Remember what Jesus said about "praying" and not "fainting."  (Luke 18:1 --- "And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.")

Notice David's "resolve" (determination) in our verse!

"I have trusted" is the verb which means "to hide for refuge!"  It indicates an action which has been completed!  When we got saved, we found our Refuge! In Him we hid forevermore! 

David made a decision to flee to God's mercy!

The noun "mercy" is truly one of the great words of the Old Testament. ("chesed")  Its root means "to bend down!"  God in His rich mercy, came down to where we were (through the Lord Jesus Christ)!  The word pictures what the theologians call "covenant love."  This is the equivalent of a husband's love for his wife!  (God IS our spiritual Husband!   The New Testament Church IS the Bride of Christ!)  And it is almost always used of the love of a GREATER person to a LESSER person!  (GOD to us!)  The word is translated "kindness" or "lovingkindness" over 70 times in the Old Testament.  David, the "man after God's Own Heart," decided to trust the loving and kind nature of the God Whom he loved and knew so well!

Can't we also trust His kindness?  Isn't that His very Nature?  Does not God always do right?  Has He not told us that all things work together for the good of those who love Him?  Friend, today FLEE to Jesus and fall into His big merciful Hands!  He will never fail you!  He IS faithful!

David next determines to "rejoice!"  (If "rejoicing" were merely an emotion, one could not so determine!  You can't make yourself cry or be sad, etc.)  BUT rejoicing (in Scripture) is a decision!  It is an act of obedience!  How else could Paul COMMAND his converts (in Philippians 4:4) to "rejoice"?  The very word "rejoice" means to "spin around" (under the influence of great pleasure and delight)!

What's got David so excited?

"Salvation!"  (Hebrew = "yeshuah"  It is pronounced: yesh - oo'- aw!)

It is a word that means deliverance or victory or welfare or at times even prosperity!

(It is also the very Old Testament name "Joshua."  Which, as you know, is the grammatical equivalent of the Name JESUS!  It means the "Saviour!")

I would say that could get a man excited and thrilled in the things of God!

Hope you've found a "nugget" here today! 

I personally feel like I've been in a "nugget patch!"

                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Verse 6:

Psalm 13:6 is our focus verse today.

It is the last verse of this short (but great) little Psalm.

It could easily become my favorite passage of Scripture!

Here's our verse in its entirety:

"I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me."   (Psalm 13:6)

Look at our verse carefully!

Contrast it with how our Psalm began!  Here again are the first two verses: "How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?"

The Psalm started with David in sorrow!  It ends with David in song!

The Psalm started with the Lord having "forgotten" David!  It ends with the Lord "dealing bountifully" with David!

What a difference!

And just what effected this great change?

The PRAYER of verse three!  (And the resulting decision empowered by that prayer.  See verse five!)

The Psalm also shows how my "will" can control my "emotions!"

It is filled with great "nuggets" of truth.

David's verb here for "sing" is important.  (David is a musician and singer par excellence, anyway!)  The word ("shiyr" pronounced "sheer") obviously means to sing ... but with a particular emphasis.  It is derived from a verb that means "to turn about" or simply "to travel."  It is believed the word came to be a picture of one who sings everywhere he goes!  (It was used in the ancient world of traveling minstrels!)  David has been so "touched" by the Lord that he plans to sing the rest of his life ... everywhere he goes.  (God's redeemed people really ARE a singing people!  In fact, our God is a singing God! See Zephaniah 3:17, which says:  "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.")

Notice he is not singing to the members of his court or to guests of state ... but to the LORD HIMSELF! 

Why is he singing so?

Because God "hath dealt bountifully" with him.  That verb ("gamal") means "to deal fully with" or "to do good unto."  (To treat a person well, to requite or benefit)  BUT the little Hebrew root stem for this word has a specific nuance.  It is their normal verb which means "to wean" (a growing baby off the milk and on to the solid food) or "to ripen" (when crops are in view ... such as grapes, etc.)

Look at this.  Here is another thing that helped David tremendously!  He SAW that all God was doing was to help "wean" him to further maturity in his Lord!  It was to help "ripen" him for future usefulness! 

God allowed David to go through the "hard" times ... in order to produce more growth and maturity and fruit in his life!

(That exactly what both Paul and James teach later in the New Testament too! Romans 5:3-5 --- "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."  Or James 1:2-4 --- "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.")


I have even noticed something else since preparing this passage with you readers in mind.  The opening words "how long" and "for ever" both have embedded word pictures of a "final purpose" in view!  "How long" comes from a Hebrew root that means "terminus!"  And "for ever" is linked to the stem that means "goal!"  Therefore even the groanings of the godly David at the beginning of the Psalm have "hints"  (the literary world calls this "foreshadowing") of future purpose, goals, and the ultimate good of the sufferer!

God both opens and closes this chapter with grammatical indications of providential care and ultimate purpose!  (When a text opens and closes with the same thought, it is called "inclusio."  It is thought to be a technique of the most skilled writers!  THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE BEST WRITER I HAVE EVER READ!)

This further confirms me in my conviction that the Bible is inspired word for word!  (Verbal plenary inspiration!) 

We've just had a handful of "nuggets."

I am saddened to have to leave this Psalm.  I am so glad that I can revisit it day by day.  (Hour by hour if I need to do so!)

I have surely enjoyed our Bible study today!

(I would not surprise me if some of you hear this preached at a revival meeting real soon!  The preacher's name will be Bagwell!)

                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



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