Psalm 13: Lessons from David’s Laments Regarding Seven Things That Jesus Offers During Your Trials

Introduction: Here, David felt loneliness, anxiety, grief, and humiliation because of his enemies. As a leader, David could not share his feelings with his followers. Yet, as a man of faith, he shared his burdens with God, and God blessed him for doing so. When you experience feelings of loneliness, anxiety, grief, and humiliation, Jesus also wants you to give Him your burdens. When you give him your burdens, He offers you His: (1) fellowship, (2) comfort / love, (3) protection, (4) answered prayers, (5) sovereignty, (6) deliverance, and (7) peace / joy.

First, David cried out to God when he could not feel God’s presence. When you feel alone, Jesus also wants you to cry out to Him. He offers you His fellowship. Second, David asked God to help him with his feelings of anxiety and grief. When you feel anxiety or grief, Jesus also offers His comfort and love if you seek Him out. Third, David confessed that a part of his anxiety and grief stemmed from his enemy’s successes and his feeling of humiliation. When you are under attack, Jesus offers you His protection. Fourth, David cried out for God to answer his prayers. With faith, Jesus can also answer your prayers. Fifth, David also confessed his fear that his enemies would publicly celebrate his defeat. When you are under attack, trust that Jesus is in control. Sixth, despite his many concerns, David had the faith to trust God to one day save him. When you are under attack, Jesus also offers you deliverance. Finally, despite his ongoing pain, David also praised God for His promise of future joy and peace. When you are under attack, Jesus also offers you His joy and peace. He offers a peace that surpasses what the world offers.

1. Fellowship: When You Feel Alone, Jesus Offers His Fellowship. Ps. 13:1.

  • David cried out for God’s presence in his time of trouble. In one of David’s many moments of crisis, he cried out to God because he could not feel God’s presence: “Prayer for Help in Trouble. For the music director. A Psalm of David. 1 How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 13:1). To some, David’s psalm might feel undignified or lacking in faith. But it in fact showed David’s faith that he could pour out his feelings of isolation to God.

  • David frequently cried out for God’s presence. On many occasions, David cried out when he could not feel God’s comfort or reassurance: “1 Why do You stand far away, Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1). “Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue my soul from their ravages, My only life from the lions . . . You have seen it, LORD, do not keep silent; Lord, do not be far from me.” (Ps. 35:17, 22). “Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and oppression?” (Ps. 44:24). “God, do not be far from me; My God, hurry to my aid!” (Ps. 71:12). “LORD, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 88:14). “How long, LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire?” (Ps. 89:46). When you feel alone, God also wants you to share your burdens with Him.

David cried out because he could not feel God’s presence during his trial1

  • Job also pleaded with God not to leave him. In his time of testing, Job also felt as though God had left him. He even sadly believed that God viewed him as an enemy: “24 Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy?” (Job 13:24). The book of Lamentations contains a similar cry: “Why will You forget us forever? Why do You abandon us for so long?” (Lam. 5:20). Thus, you never need to apologize if you cannot feel God’s presence. Instead, the sin is in failing to seek out His presence.

  • God never forgets His people. Although it is sadly common for people to feel as though God has forgotten them, God assures us that it is impossible for Him to do so: “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has abandoned me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’ 15 Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” (Is. 49:14-16). If you have ever felt an intense love for a baby, take comfort that God feels that way about you as well.

  • Jesus offers His fellowship to you if you seek Him in faith. God promises His fellowship to anyone who earnestly seeks Him in faith: “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Dt. 4:29). Jesus made this same offer to believers at Laodicea. They were saved. But they were not walking in fellowship with Him: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). Are you seeking out Jesus’ fellowship?

  • Share your feelings without letting them rule over you. Many believers struggle with knowing what to do about their feelings. As one commentator observes, each person must observe a careful balance: “David felt God had forgotten him, and felt God was hiding. So, in a sense, it was true for David - but true according to feelings, not according to fact. There is a balance in life when it comes to feelings. Some people ignore feelings and think that feelings should have nothing to do with our relationship with God. This is an extreme viewpoint, because God has given us feelings as an expression of His image in us. We can feel anger, love, care, sorrow, and many other feelings, because God feels those feelings. Feelings are a gift from God and a sign that we are made in His image. On the other side, some live their lives ruled by feelings. They believe whatever reality their feelings present them. The problem with this is that though we have feelings because we are made in the image of God, our feelings are affected by our fallenness. We can’t trust our feelings because of this. In this sense, it was all right for David to feel these feelings, and good to take them to God, but he should never accept the reality of feelings as ‘real’ reality.” (David Guzik on Psalm 13) (italics original).2

2. Comfort / Love: When You Are In Pain, Jesus Offers His Comfort and Love. Ps. 13:2a.

  • David cried out for relief from his anxiety and grief. Although David had shown strength as a leader to others, he knew that he could tell God his real feelings of anxiety and grief: “How long am I to feel anxious in my soul, with grief in my heart all the day?” (Ps. 13:2a). Many who suffer from anxiety and grief sadly lack the faith to seek God’s comfort. Instead, many turn to alcohol, drugs, or isolation to numb their pain.

Like David, Jesus wants you to cry out to Him when you feel sorrow3

  • David frequently poured out his laments of sorrow. David was not a hero of the faith because he bottled up his sorrow. Instead, as our example, he poured out the laments of his heart to God: “Listen to my words, LORD, consider my sighing.” (Ps. 5:1). “For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my guilt, and my body has wasted away.” (Ps. 31:10). “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me.” (Ps. 22:14). “For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me.” (Ps. 38:17).

  • Jesus offers you comfort in your times of distress. When you feel attacked like David, Jesus offers to comfort you: “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (2 Cor. 1:5). He can also strengthen you in your time of need: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13). “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,” (1 Tim. 1:12). “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self,” (Eph. 3:16). If you are in need of comfort, are you turning to Jesus? Or, if God has placed others around you who are in need, are you pointing them to Jesus?

  • Jesus will also show you compassion when you suffer. Jesus also had compassion for the masses (Matt. 9:36). He also longs to show you His compassion: “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.” (Is. 30:18a). “And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion to whom I will show compassion.”’ (Ex. 33:19). When you feel alone or defeated, are you turning to Jesus to find compassion?

  • Jesus also offers His light when you are in darkness. When you feel trapped in darkness, you can also turn to Jesus to be your light: “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” (Jo. 1:4). “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”’ (Jo. 8:12). ‘“While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”’ (Jo. 9:5). “I have come as Light into the world, so that no one who believes in Me will remain in darkness.” (Jo. 12:46). When you feel trapped in darkness, turn to Jesus as your light.

3. Protection: When You Are Under Attack, Jesus Offers His Protection. Ps. 13:2b.

  • David cried out over his enemy’s successes. David confessed to God that a part of his anxiety and grief stemmed from his enemy’s successes and his feeling of humiliation: “How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” (Ps. 13:2b). David frequently cried out when his enemies oppressed him: “I will say to God my rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”’ (Ps. 42:9).

  • God is a shield to the righteous. Despite having enemies everywhere, David knew that he was never without God’s protection. He professed that God was his “shield,” who saves the upright in heart.” (Ps. 7:10). He is a shield to anyone who takes refuge in Him: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my savior, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. . . As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is refined; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” (Ps. 18:2, 30). He can also be your shield when you depend upon Him.

  • Be patient for God’s timing. In a prior psalm, David confessed his trust that God never forgets those in need: “For He who requires blood remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the needy.” (Ps. 9:12). Yet, here, he asked God “how long” four times (Ps. 13:1-2). God would let David feel His presence, comfort, and protection. But this would all happen in God’s timing. Like many people, David tried to judge God’s faithfulness based upon his circumstances. To build his faith, God was teaching David to be patient during his many trials: “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” (Jam. 5:8). “By your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Lk. 21:19). When you face a trial, God also wants you to be patient and to trust in His timing.

4. Answered Prayers: With Faith, Jesus Can Also Answer Your Prayers. Ps. 13:3.

  • David cried out for God to answer his prayers. In response to his feelings of anxiety, grief, and humiliation, David cried out for God to answer his prayers and deliver him: “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,” (Ps. 13:3). David’s reference to the “sleep of death” referenced a death at the hand’s of his enemies. David had the faith to know that his deliverance was up to God. The phrase “enlighten my eyes” meant that David sought God’s strength, favor, and answered prayers: “The situation here is much like that recorded in the story of Jonathan, who was failing quickly in his vitality until he ate and his eyes were enlightened (1 Sam. 14:27-29). Similarly, here the word means to revive physical strength and moral energy (see Prov. 29:13; Ezek. 9:8). How would God light up his eyes? By causing his face to shine upon him, meaning to show him favor and answer his prayer.” (Allen Ross, A Commentary of the Psalms: Volume 1 (1-41), Kregel Academic (2011) p. 54).

God will answer your prayers when you seek out a relationship with Him4

  • God hears the effective fervent prayer of the righteous. As our example, David frequently prayed for God to answer his prayers for guidance and protection: “Let my cry come before You, LORD; give me understanding according to Your word.” (Ps. 119:169). God later made clear that those who pray in faith and confess their sins can accomplish great things through Him: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (Ja. 5:16). As an example of this, God heard Elijah’s prayers to both stop and later restart the rain in Israel (Ja. 5:17-18). God also heard Hezekiah’s prayers when he prayed for His intervention (2 Kgs. 19:20). God also wants you to pray fervently to Him to intervene when you need deliverance. When you are going through a trial, are you crying out to God for guidance?

  • Out of love, Jesus advocates for believers daily. Today, Jesus sits on the throne looking to answer your prayers. He is your counselor (Is. 9:6) and your only mediator to God the Father (1 Tim. 2:5). He also advocates for you in the same heavenly court: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1 Jo. 2:1b). “Christ Jesus . . . also intercedes for us.” (Ro. 8:34). “Therefore He is also able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25). “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 Jo. 5:14). Jesus is also looking to answer your prayers when you call out to Him: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). Are you crying out to Jesus so that He may advocate for your needs?

  • Praise God when he answers your prayers. In addition to turning to God during his times of need, David also remembered to thank God when God answered his prayers: “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.” (Ps. 18:6). Are you keeping track of God’s answered prayers and praising Him when He does so?

5. Sovereignty: When You Are Under Attack, Trust that Jesus is in Control. Ps. 13:4.

  • David cried out that his enemies would gloat over his defeat. Among his many fears, David confessed his belief that his enemies would celebrate his defeat or setbacks: “and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.” (Ps. 13:4). David’s prayer might seem selfish. Yet, because of God’s promises to David, David argued to God that his enemy’s victory would call into question God’s ability to fulfill His promises: “He knows that the Lord’s own reputation is bound up with how he himself fares, so he pleads with the Lord to act lest the one at enmity boast that he has prevailed over David.” (James M. Hamilton Jr., Evangelical Bible Theology Commentary Psalms (Vol. I: Psalms 1-72) (Lexham Academic 2021) p. 195). Like most, David struggled when evil seemed to be out of control or about to prevail. When he felt this way, he had to trust that God remained in ultimate control.

  • In dark times, place your hope in Jesus to cause all things to work together for His good. God’s plans are frequently beyond our limited comprehension: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:9). Yet, even when you lack the ability to understand the reasons for a trial or why God allows evil to happen, God wants you to have faith that He has a greater plan of you: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28). When evil seems to be everywhere, do you still trust that God has a greater plan for you?

  • During your trials, trust that the enemy can never prevent the fulfillment of God’s Word. David had no reason to doubt God’s many promises to him. There is nothing that the enemy can do to prevent God’s Word from being fulfilled: “Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; everything came to pass.” (Josh. 21:45). “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel in accordance with everything that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.” (1 Kgs. 8:56). ‘“I declared the former things long ago, and they went out of My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.”’ (Is. 48:3). God’s many promises to you are also irrevocable. Yet, you need to learn God’s Word in order to trust in His promises.

6. Deliverance: When You Are Under Attack, Jesus Offers His Deliverance. Ps. 13:5.

  • In faith, David praised God for his future deliverance from his enemy. Although David’s anxiety and grief had not left him, he had the faith to trust God to one day save him: “But I have trusted in Your faithfulness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” (Ps. 13:5). God also wants you to trust Him to one day deliver you from your trials. His deliverance may not come according to your timeline. But He is always faithful.

  • Praise God for His deliverance. As our example, David always praised God for his deliverance: “I will sing a new song to You, O God; upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, who gives salvation to kings, who rescues David His servant from the evil sword.” (Ps. 144:9-10). “He rescues me from my enemies; You indeed lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from a violent man . . . He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” (Ps. 18:48, 50; 2 Sam. 22:51). “O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.” (Ps. 140:7). “The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed.” (Ps. 22:8). “Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your words.” (Ps. 119:161). “Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.” (Ps. 119:157). “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:18). When God delivers you, do you also give Him the full credit?

7. Joy / Peace: When You Are Under Attack, Jesus Offers You Joy and Peace. Ps. 13:6.

  • In faith, David praised God for the promise of one day restoring his lost joy and peace. Despite his ongoing pain, David also praised God for the promise of future joy and peace: “I will sing to the Lord, because He has looked after me.” (Ps. 13:6). God promises to one day restore all that you have lost because of sin, including your joy and peace.

Even when you are in a trial or feeling alone, you can praise God for His goodness5

  • Trust in Jesus to restore your lost peace. Jesus offers a peace that is not like the peace that the world offers: “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” (Jo. 14:27). He instead promises something better. He promises peace that surpasses worldly understanding: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7). Is your happiness tied to your wealth and status? If so, your peace is only temporary. It will likely disappear in the next crisis.

  • Trust Jesus to also bless you with joy. Like David, you cannot avoid moments of tragedy, sorrow, loss, or trials. Yet, Jesus offers you “abundant” life: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jo. 10:10). The Psalms can help you to find joy by turning your focus away from yourself and back to God where it belongs. When Saul was trying to kill David, David wrote in one of his many psalms that he would always praise God (Ps. 34:1). Moreover, David and other psalmists were joyful in their praises: “I will rejoice and be jubilant in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” (Ps. 9:2). “But rejoice, all who take refuge in You, sing for joy forever! And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Ps. 5:11). “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed.” (Ps. 71:23). “I rejoice at Your word, like one who finds great plunder.” (Ps. 119:162). Thus, if you are going through the motions when you worship, you should stop and examine your heart.