I thought I would continue the theme I started two issues ago, by considering some of the questions asked in scripture. This time, I delve into one of my favourite parts of scripture, The Psalms.
Psalm 13 begins with four questions, each of which is translated in the English Standard Version (ESV) as, “How long?” The first, in verse 1 is, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”
David cries out to the Lord. “How long will you hide your face from me” (v.1b), “How long must I keep counsel in my soul?” (v2a), “How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (v2b).
David wants an answer to his questions, and asks God to, “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God …” (v3a).
Many of us ask these same questions of God. When we are down, when troubles come, when sorrow strikes — and God seems far away. How long, O Lord? — God, have you forgotten me? — I am still here. — I need help!
We may feel that we are shut off from God. We fear what others may do to us — our thoughts can become confused and agitated, so that we are unable to “think” our way out of our situation. Thus we sink under the pressure of our troubles.
David reminds himself that he has, “trusted in your (God’s) steadfast love.” He says that, “my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord” (v5b-6a).
Trust in the Lord leads to prayer. This whole psalm is a prayer. David is able to take his doubts, his fears, his frustration, and his questions to God. The Lord knows us (and knew David) even before a word is on our tongue (see Psalm 139:4).
As one writer puts it, “Deliverances come in answer to prayer … he who moans at the beginning of prayer may sing at the end of it.” “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
How long? — Paul writes, in his letter to the Philippians, “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Colin R. Vine