The Agonizing Soul

by Paul Tautges | May 1, 2013 7:33 am

Psalm 13 is one of the most heart-wrenchingly honest prayers in the Bible. Here is a soul in anguish. Here is a follower of God who wrestles day-in and day-out with what God is doing in his life. He feels abandoned by God, overtaken by grief, and pummeled by the enemy of his soul. Yet as he learns to submit every thought and fear to the Lord, in prayer, ultimately he resolves to choose the path of joy.

Four Cries

“How long, O Lord?” is this man’s repetitive cry. How long will you forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will sorrow fill my heart? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Here is honest lament—godly complaining to God.

The sons of Korah experienced the same soul agony and also brought their lament to God. “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground” (Ps 44:23-25).

But far from being sinful these cries of the soul are acts of faith. For it is the Lord to whom they turn. They run to God, not from God. Yes, they struggle to trust God’s wisdom, but their cries are, in reality, cries of confession of need. They are cries of submission, not of anger. In the agony of their soul they knew where to turn. “Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” (Ps 44:26).

Two Pleas

First, the psalmist pleas for the assurance that God cares, that He indeed sees him in his affliction. “Consider,” i.e. look, gaze, pay attention. That is the cry of the agonized soul. Again, his cry is an act of faith. It is the “Lord, my God” to whom he pleas. By faith, he believes God does hear his groaning (C.f. Exod 2:24).

Second, he needs hope. In his affliction, he has used up all of his resources and his eyes have darkened with despair. Therefore, he pleas “enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” It is for the brightness to return to his eyes—which hope alone can give—that he asks for from God.

Three Resolves

The turning point comes when his faith, which has given him only enough strength to cry out to God, leads to three resolutions of heart and mind.

Where is our focus in our times of trial? Whatever the trial, let us learn from the stark honesty of the psalmist. Let us bring our complaints to God, in faith, trusting His wisdom and goodness. The steadfast love of the Lord never fails. Let us trust Him.

Source URL: