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Psalm 13



Prayer for Help in Trouble
MT Intro
"For the choir director.
A Psalm of David"
Trust in the Salvation of the Lord Prayer for Deliverance from Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
A Prayer for Help


A Confident Appeal


13:1-2 13:1-2 13:1-2 13:1-2 13:1-3
13:3-4 13:3-4 13:3-4 13:3-4  
        13:4-5 (6)
13:5-6 13:5-6 13:5-6 13:5-6  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



 1How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
 How long will You hide Your face from me?
 2How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
 Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
 How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

13:1-2 Notice the structure of this introductory strophe is four "how long" (BDB 723 II, cf. Ps. 6:3; 90:13) questions.

1. two in verse 1

2. two in verse 2

They are a literary way of expressing the psalmist's frustration at his current circumstances. He felt abandoned by God.

1. forgotten by God, Ps. 13:1a

2. God has hidden Himself, Ps. 13:1b

3. personal sorrow, Ps. 13:2a,b

4. his enemy is exalted, Ps. 13:2c

Notice #1 and #2 also appear together in Ps. 10:11. The theme of a sense of abandonment is beautifully expressed in Psalm 42. The sense of abandonment is only the perception of the hurting psalmist. The reality is YHWH is with us, for us, and will act on our behalf in appropriate, timely ways!

13:1 "forever" This word (BDB 664) is a hyperbolic idiom expressing the psalmist's feelings of being permanently abandoned by God.

▣ "face" This, too, is a Hebrew idiom of personal presence (cf. Ps. 11:7; 17:15; 27:4,8). For some reason (i.e., personal sin, cf. Ps. 13:3b or illness, 3b) YHWH has seemingly turned away.

13:2 "soul. . .heart" These two are parallel and denote Hebrew ways of personifying the person.

▣ "all the day" This idiom means "all the time." This does not mean that the sorrow lasts only during daylight hours.

 3Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
 Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
 4And my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
 And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

13:3-4 This strophe is a prayer for God to answer his prayer questions of Ps. 13:1-2.

There is a series of three imperatives (i.e., prayer requests).

1. consider (lit. "look") — BDB 613, KB 661, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 80:14; Lam. 1:11; 2:20; 5:1

2. answer — BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperative

3. enlighten (lit. "cause to shine") — BDB 21, KB 24, Hiphil imperative; this may be used in the sense of

a. God answer my prayer with knowledge of your revelation (cf. Ps. 6:7; 19:8)

b. God deliver me from death (cf. Ps. 38:10)

Also notice that NASB has "lest" three times (MT, BDB 814, twice).

1. lest I die

2. lest my enemy brag

3. lest my adversaries rejoice


 5But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
 My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
 6I will sing to the Lord,
 Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

13:5-6 This is the psalmist's declaration of faith/trust/belief in YHWH.

1. I have trusted (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect) in Your lovingkindness (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7). Trust is a crucial aspect of a true believer (cf. Ps. 25:5; 42:5; 65:5; 78:22; 86:2). See full note at Ps. 4:5.

2. I will rejoice (BDB 162, KB 189, Qal jussive) in Your salvation (see Special Topic at Ps. 3:7), which in context, refers to health restored.

3. I will sing (BDB 1010, KB 1479, Qal cohortative).

In Hebrew thought death was a descent into Sheol, where no one praises God (cf. Ps. 6:5; 30:9; 88:10-12; 115:17; Isa. 38:18). See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:6. See notes at Ps. 6:5 and 9:13.

The psalmist bases his trust on YHWH's character and actions (i.e., "dealt bountifully with me," BDB 168, KB 197, Qal perfect).

13:6 "has dealt bountifully with me" This verb (BDB 168, KB 197, Qal perfect) is used several times in Psalms (cf. Ps. 116:7; 119:17; 142:7). This perfect form denotes the psalmist's certainty that YHWH will act on his behalf in the future and, therefore, states it as if it had already occurred.

▣ "with me" Interestingly the LXX translates this as a title for God—"the Most High" (cf. NJB). This same change may also occur at Ps. 7:8.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Verses 1-2 describe how faithful followers feel in a fallen world. Explain this in your own words.

2. Is death a "sleep"?

3. Define and explain "lovingkindness."

4. How does the word "salvation" change meanings from the OT to the NT?