R/LADIES Week 6: Psalm 13

March 30, 2022  |  Diana Taggart

Suggested Listen: Poor Bishop Hooper, Psalm 13

Read Psalm 13 in its entirety. 

Take a few deep breaths, then read it again slowly. Write down any words, phrases, or verses that stand out. Note any that stir up emotions or memories.

1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I take counsel in my soul

and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;

light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”

lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the LORD,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Take a moment to ponder and reflect on what stands out as you read. 

  • Do you have any emotional responses? 
  • What is the knee-jerk reaction to these words?
  • What portion of the text grips your eyes? Where do they pause?

Now, let’s walk through this together.


Of all the psalms, there are 42 that are specifically written for lament.

And of those, 30 are for individual lament.

Psalm 13 is one of those psalms.

Throughout the whole psalm, the writer is on the verge of despair. Seemingly running out of endurance and faith, it’s not until the final two verses that the writer preaches a reminder to their own soul.

Vs 1-2

1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

In these first four lines, or two verses, you can hear and feel the growing desperation in the writer’s voice. The question “how long” is repeated four times, signifying that there isn’t necessarily a need for information or a response, per say, but rather these painful expressions just needed to be sung. Their endurance is waning. Their faith is eclipsed by their fatigue.

How long will it be like this? How long until you change this? Those would be my verses if I wrote a song like this. So much of my personal exclamations of lament always begin with feeling like God is silent and distant. That my present sadness and discouragement is forever, and God won’t step in. Of course, we know that God’s character isn’t aligned with Him forgetting us forever as the first verse mentions, nor is He hiding His face. But the sorrow does a darn good job of making us forget who we know God to be. That leaves us to our own strength, to take counsel in ourselves, to be filled with sorrow all day, and feel like those against us or even our own thoughts are hanging over us without end.

What expressions readily come out when you’re in a place of lament? What characteristics of God are the first to be forgotten in suffering?

Be mindful of those things, and counteract them with the true characteristics we know God has displayed.

Vs 3-4

3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

The middle verses here in 3 and 4 show a prayer for God to intervene, and what the writer feels will be the result if God doesn’t. What it sounds like, is the writer needs relief. They are asking for God to consider their lament, their requests, and answer them — and if not, they will be left to suffer under the weight of their burdens.

What strikes me the most as I read this, is the despair that still lingers even in the request. It’s like the last bit of energy the writer is able to offer is just simply their ask for God to answer them. The faintest whisper that shows the writer still believes the Lord can step in. Even with the lamenting and sorrow, there’s still a present awareness that they need God, and God alone.

Vs 5-6

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

The last verses of Psalm 13 are reminiscent of Psalm 42’s tone where the writer often commands their own heart to hope and trust. In Psalm 13’s fifth verse, the writer offers a rebuttal to their own earlier expressions. “But I have trusted…” they write. So then, their heart shall rejoice.

Even when we don’t feel it. When we feel like God has forgotten us. When all of our flesh and mind is telling us that our present suffering will continue and be a heavy cloud over us — we can remember God’s faithfulness to rescue us again and again.

So especially in the low days, seasons, and years of our lives, we can hold fast to this living hope and look back on God’s past provisions for us, as reminders that we can still sing when we’re sorrowful, “because he has dealt bountifully with me.

This psalm of just six verses takes us through the rollercoaster of emotions we all have experienced. The desperate worries that God has forgotten us, that He’ll be nowhere to be found. Then to a plea to intervene in our hearts and circumstances, and finally back down to a reminder to ourselves that we can cling to. That His love is steadfast.

In our waiting for Him to answer, we can cling to what we know of Him — not just what we feel.


Ever-present Father, thank you for allowing us to see our own feelings, thoughts, and expressions written out before us in your word. That you’ve breathed out scripture and these psalms to help us know you when our memory fades and is overshadowed. Help us to remember your grace, mercy, faithfulness, and nearness when all feels cold and empty. When life and the burdens of our days speak louder than your voice. May we feel heard and known, and lean on the Holy Spirit to bring our own songs of lament to you, who is faithful to hear us. In your mighty name, amen.