How are you? We have been exploring a very short, but powerful psalm. In verses one and two of Psalms 13, we read about feeling so down that one doesn’t even think God is listening. If you haven't read post one or post two in this series, you might want to do so now. Let’s continue today in pondering Psalms 13:3.
Come Right Out and Ask God to Hear Your Prayer:
Have you ever thought about how your prayers look and progress as time goes by with no apparent answer in sight? They might start out with, “Please, help me, if it is your will.” Then they might go to something like, “Please, please, help me.” Then they might go to something like, “This is so hard. I really need your help.” Then it might go to something like, “Why me? Why do I have to go through this?” Sound familiar? Yes, I have prayed through this progression before.
When we are just starting our hardship, we tend to still have patience and respect for God. We still want to be polite in our prayers and still know that God’s will is best. In the beginning of our troubles, we might not think that they will be too bad or last too long.
Yet, as time goes by and our troubles seem to have settled in for the long haul, we tend to get a little less polite with others and with God. We still might pray or look for help, but we might not feel that God’s will is to be the center of our prayer anymore. We might feel that we just want better times to come. We might just call for help.
We might get so low in our heart that we are barely praying anymore. We might get to the point of just crying out, poor me. We might want to know why we are going through such troubles. We might just want people to notice us and maybe have pity on us, including God.
We might even feel that on the verge of death. We might get so low that we might feel better off dead. We might feel like we can’t take it anymore. We might feel like it won’t be too long before we die if our troubles continue the way they are going.
This is where we are in Psalms 13. David writes about the feeling that death will come soon if things don’t change. David writes about calling God to notice him. David cries out for God to listen and consider him.
Feeling Small and Fragile:
In Psalms 13:3, David is depicting that point in life where we feel fragile and small. Maybe David was wondering if he was too small, too despicable, and too insignificant for God to help. Maybe David was focusing on all the things that he had done wrong in life. Maybe he felt helpless and hopeless. Maybe when David felt the lowest, he cries out in one last ditch effort, “Consider and hear me, O LORD my God”, as we see in the first part of Psalms 13:3. Have you ever felt like this?
I imagine David feeling like, “God, it is me, David. Don’t you remember me? I know I have sinned, but I am still a person. You made me a person. You know who I am. God? Where are you? God, am I really so horrible that you can’t even look at me anymore? God? God? Where are you? Please, God, I need you. I am going to die if you don’t help me. God? Please, consider me, your old friend David. Please! Please, hear my prayer.”
Can you relate? I know that when it feels like God is far away and not listening, I question my significance. I question whether God really wants to see me or talk to me. It might be fleeting thoughts, but at times, they do come up. I start to feel helpless and hopeless. What are your thoughts? How do you imagine David’s thoughts and feelings for this verse?
A Plea For Life Instead of Death:
Now, let’s look at the last part of Psalms 13:3. David writes, “lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” (KJV) We don’t really talk like that today, so it might be difficult for us to understand. However, with the word death and the way it is used, we can kind of tell that David writes about being on the brink of death or at least the feeling of being at the brink of death.
I think there are a few ways to look at the phrase “lighten my eyes”. The eyes are sometimes referred to as the “light of the body” as in Matthew 6:22. If you think about it, if you close your eyes, things go dark even if it is light outside. So, for most of us, the phrase of the “eyes are the light of the body” makes sense. To be more drastic, closing our eyes could mean forever as in death.
Here we can consider death as in a physical death or a spiritual death in not being able to see God and being far from Him. I imagine that heaven is a very bright place with plenty of light. And, in contrast, hell has been described as darkness.
Another way of looking at the phrase “lighten my eyes” could include the word “light” to mean as in weight and not brightness. I don’t know about you, but when I feel very tired, run down, exhausted, or even depressed, my eyes feel heavy.
David could be talking about that feeling when we are so very tired and run down that we don’t think we can go a step more. Maybe we haven’t slept in a week or two and we have big puffy eyes and bags under our eyes. Maybe we are so overwhelmed, tired, and stressed out that we feel like we are at the end of our rope. One more stress, one more argument, one more disappointment and we are just going to lose it.
I am not sure what kind of death David means in the phrase “lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Do you? I don’t know if he might be talking about death in general being so fragile and feeling like God is so far away. I don’t know whether he might be talking about a physical death or a spiritual death. I don’t know if he might be feeling suicidal, because he feels so lost and so far away from God. I don’t know if he is talking about being killed, like he is in danger and is crying for God to protect him. Or, maybe he feels an overwhelming stress or heart ache and might feel like the stress will kill him.
Whether it is a specific death or a general death, whether it is a particular instance or a general situation, I think David is describing the fragileness we sometimes feel during a difficult situation. I think it is a cry for God’s help and a last ditch effort to get God to answer prayer on the brink of death.
I like how God’s Word is filled with words with multiple meanings, such as “lighten my eyes” that we see in Psalms 13:3. Not that I know for sure, but it is my guess that God’s Word was set up that way on purpose. I believe that is one of the reasons why we can get something new out of God’s Word every time we read it and that different people get different messages from reading the same passage or verse.
Even with Psalms 13, some people think that David wrote it during a specific time and difficult situation in his life. Some people think it might be during the time when his son Absalom was trying to take over his throne. I am sure that time was a difficult time for David. Can you imagine your own child trying to overthrow you and take your place? That is not the kind of behavior a parent wants to see from a child. Many times, it is harder if a loved one turns against us than a stranger.
However, other people tend to think that Psalms 13 was written for a more general purpose. There was no particular difficulty in David’s life that provoked him to write this. It was just something that God put in his heart to write down to show people that God understands the feelings we have and to give us hope during difficult times.
Psalms 13:3 or maybe even Psalms 13 in general might be a metaphor. For example, when we get to the point where we don’t feel like God is listening anymore. We might feel like we are dead or dying. After all, God is the source of life, not only our physical life, but everlasting life. If we are so far away from God that we don’t hear Him anymore, we could be in hell. We could be in eternal darkness and eternal death.
There could be many ways to interpret Psalms 13 as well as many verses in God’s Word. What are your thoughts?
Thank you for your Word. Thank you for the infinite wisdom that you posses and that you pass on through your Word. Thank you that your Word is written in such a way that we all are given the message you want us to have at the time it is read, even if it is a different message each time we read it. Help us to continue to turn to you even in difficult situations. Help us to have patience in your timing and trust in you, even if we don’t feel you hear us right away. Help us to stay in your light and not get caught up in darkness. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
If you enjoyed this post, please stay tuned for the rest of the series on Psalms 13. Also, you might like to read these similar posts:
*Perseverance: It Will Happen in God's Timing
*We are Called to be Careful for Nothing?
*Biblical Encouragement for the Depressed and Discouraged
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