Friday, July 21, 2017

Psalm 13 jottings

Psalm 13 notes


When prayer seems unanswered / God seems far away or absent or appears to hide / when feeling forgotten (by God) / when wrestling with thoughts / sorrowful / defeated / enemies triumph / when feeling near death

Outlines / structure:

Expositor’s Bible:

Waiting for God’s Salvation

Expression of despair: how long? (vv1-2)

Expression of prayer: give me light! (vv3-4)

Expression of hope and trust: let me sing! (vv5-6)

Goldingay, Baker Commentary

How long, how long, how long, how long?

Wilcock, BST:

1. Distinctive pattern, distinctive prayer

2. Looking backward, looking forward

Kidner, Tyndale:

Desolation into delight

Vv1-2, desolation

Vv3-4, supplication

Vv5-6, certainty

Motyer, Psalms by the Day: A New Devotional Translation

Still waiting, still trusting

A. The fourfold ‘How long’: protracted anxiety

B. The threefold ‘in case’: urgent threats

C. The twofold rejoicing: the fruit of trust

Wilson, NIV Application Commentary

Questioning God (vv1-2)

Plea for deliverance from approaching death (vv3-4)

Trust and confidence (vv5-6)




The Psalm suggests “the state in which hope despairs, and yet despair hopes” so Luther according to James L. Mays, cited in Goldingay, p208.

Kidner: “The three pairs of verses climb up from the depths to a fine vantage-point of confidence and hope. If the path is prayer (v3f), the sustaining energy is the faith expressed in verse 5. The prospect from the summit (v5) is exhilarating, and the retrospect (v6) overwhelming.” (p77)

The sections of the Psalm become steadily shorter

Pain, prayer & praise (Wilcock, p50)

“in each stanza the psalmist is concerned with God, with himself, and with his circumstances, in that order.” (Wilcock, p50)

Almost a howl (Keller) – a deep sense of abandonment (Goldingay)

A dose of realism – not pious pretence

A Psalm that gives us permission to be honest with God about how we really feel, to repeatedly question him, to come to him with our doubts / worries / challenges / “issues” . struggles / agony

A personal 1st person Psalm but also for the music director – how does this affect the reading of the Psalm?

The Psalm considered as the words of Christ – a Psalm Jesus could have prayed on the cross when forsaken by his Father – suffering then vindication pattern

Is God’s absence real or felt / perceived only?

The Psalmist’s problem(s): how he feels (vv1-2)

Vv1-2, Goldingay, aggressive, confrontational – a uniquely impertinent 4-fold question

How long? - Ps 62:3; Hab 1:2; Ps 74:10; 80:4; 94:3; Ex 16:28; Num 14:11, 27 – rhetorical, not a request for information – implication, this is intolerable and needs to stop now – Jer 47:6

Zech 7:13

Vv1-2 – Kidner: the distress analysed in relation to God, to the Psalmist himself and to his enemy.

Motyer, “In turn, divine remoteness, personal indecision / uncertainty, human enmity. The causes of potential breakdown are supernatural, personal, circumstantial. What a recipe!” (p35)

Yahweh, why are you ignoring / neglecting me? Why don’t you act?

The act of praying presupposes that God hears / might hear – he keeps praying! Pray even if it seems God is not listening or responding

Even great King David had his share of sufferings and distress

Cf. Ex 2:24f

V1b, cf. David’s longing to behold God’s face – 11:7; 17:15; cf. 27:4, 8; 34:5 – a clouded friendship Job 29:1ff; 30:20ff; Ps 22:1ff

The Psalmist is not experiencing the blessing of God’s face - Num 6:24-26

David’s plight seems interminable to him – 2 Pt 3:8

How long? echoed in Rev 6:10

V2, “How long will I place plans before my soul?” – plans a plural of amplitude, set plan after plan before – turmoil of thought cf. 77:3-6

Cf. Prov 26:24

V2 – before myself, before my soul (nepes, spirit, self), lit. in / within – to myself – protracted anxiety, different ideas about how to deal with the situation – what am I to do? What can I do? Should I try this or that or the other? Agonising ? about causes, causes of action etc.

V2 – enemy – cf. ? 1 Sam 27:1, with its counsel of despair

What he prays for (vv3-4)

Vv3-4 – God and David’s enemy as two poles of his life

V3 – Take note (notice), answer – two verbs without conjunction – cf. 10:10 – answer lookingly – a look is enough, reassuring David of favour, lifting the trouble, sending the enemy packing (Motyer)

V3 – My God – personal faith under trial – cf. Mk 15:34 – Yahweh is still the Psalmist’s God even though Yahweh seems hidden / absent

V3 – enlighten my eyes – cf. 1 Sam 14:27, countenance, eyes of renewed vitality, resilience – suggests encouragement – Ps 19:8; 118:27; Ezra 9:8

V3b – cf. Mk 14:33f

V3b – illness involved as cause or effect?

V4 – “in case my enemy say: “I have proved able for him”” – i.e. I have prevailed over him (Motyer), I was more than a match for him

V4 – ‘emmot, I am shaken, fall down – and don’t get up again – dead?!

The Psalmist’s resolve and his reasons (vv5-6)

Reasons for trust / rejoicing / singing (in the midst of / despite the realities of the Ps?)

V5 – And / but – And might be a way of suggesting this was his experience throughout

V5 – the I is emphatic, but for my part I…

V5 – committed love – 5:7

V6 – 13 words of one syllable

V6 – “because he is sure to deal fully with me” – treating the verb as a perfect of certainty (Motyer), “Trust brings delight even when nothing has actually yet changed.” – cf. 1 Sam 1:18

Gamal, “he has acted fully for me”, has done all that should be done, all that is necessary

“good” – cf. Eph 3:20

Vv5-6 – a prophetic perfect expressing certainty of future deliverance as a past even?

Phil 1:6 – God’s goodness to us in the past assures us he will bring his work in us to completion

Rom 8:28

Eugene Peterson suggests our real need is not more information / answers to our questions / insight into God’s plans and the future but God’s presence and love, God himself to be an ever-present help in times of trouble.

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