Lord, Until When? A Plea From Psalm 13
How many times do I find myself in circumstances that make life seem so frustrating? Oftentimes when the word “circumstances” comes to mind, I associate it with situations that are negative. There are times when a state of affairs leaves me feeling helpless, desperate, and lonely. Through Scripture, I remember that when hard times occur, it is okay to feel these emotions (just consider the Psalms). But at the end of the day the question remains – Where do I place my trust?
In Psalm 13, the Psalmist makes it clear that he is in a place that he wants to escape. He presents a plea to God by asking, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?” (Ps. 13:1). He believes that he has been forgotten or perhaps deserted and left all alone. The phrase “how long” could be phrased “until when?” Both suggest the situation is a present circumstance where he sees no end. He asks the Lord “until when” before he is out of it.
He is trying to console himself (Ps 13:2). He asks again, “How long must I… have sorrow in my heart all the day?” (Ps. 13:2). His soul cries out from the hurt he experiences, and he wants the pain to go away, pleading “when will it be done?” When will his enemies no longer be over him? (Ps. 13:2)
The Psalmist then asks the Lord something a little different. He pleas, “Consider and answer me, O LORD my God” (v. 3). He makes a request asking the Lord to look at him and give him an answer. He says “look at me” so that his enemies will not prevail against him (Ps. 13:4).
But then, the tone of the Psalm seems to shift.
Instead of pleading he states, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD for he has dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:5-6). He takes a turn from asking about his situation to one where he says he has trusted in the Lord. The manner in which he addresses the Lord changes to one of acknowledgment instead of pleading.
Even though he is seeking a way out of his circumstance, the Psalmist still praises the Lord (Ps. 13:6). He trusts in the LORD’s steadfast love (Ps. 13:5). It is as if he says, “Okay – I know that I am in place that I do not want to be, but I also know, Lord, that you are good.”
How many times do I find myself in similar circumstances as the Psalmist?
I look at my life and think “Until when Lord will I no longer be single? …Until when will there be no more pain? …Until when Lord will this sorrow no longer weigh me down?”
I often do not trust. In my consumer mindset, I often want what I think is best right now. But then I remember that the question of “until when” in this Psalm is not answered. There is no time line. There is no list of things that the he must do to bring it about. Instead he is just to trust and praise the Lord.
As I read this Psalm it teaches me that life is not about me getting answers – it is about me trusting God. The Psalmist says that the Lord has dealt bountifully with him. If the Lord has dealt bountifully with him, than he has no reason not to trust God. I realize, like the Psalmist, there is much that I have been blessed with and that is all I need to praise and trust the Lord. It’s okay to ask “until when?”, but we can still choose to trust and sing to the Lord. And, we can always remember that we have been given more goodness from God than we can ever deserve. It is hard for me to trust amid the pain, loneliness, and sorrow. But God is still good, faithful, and loving when those times are before me.
Today, let’s exchange our “until when, Lord?” to “right now, Lord, I trust You”
 The Hebrew phrase עַד־אָ֣נָה is comprised of a temporal meaning “until” (HALOT 786) and a temporal meaning for “when”, forming a combined expression “Until when” or “how long” (HALOT 69).
 HALOT page 661. The Hebrew word for “consider” can also mean to look
Danielle is pursuing her Master of Divinity with a concentration in Theological Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. All she needs is some fresh baked bread, a cup of tea, and spot on the couch to make her day. Her true passion is to see women fall in love with the richness and truth of Scripture.