Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
From the darkness of despair (Psalm 13:1-2) the Psalmist wins his way through prayer (Psalm 13:3-4) to a joyous hope of ultimate deliverance (Psalm 13:5-6).
His power of endurance is well-nigh spent. Jehovah seems to have forgotten or forsaken him. His own resources are exhausted. If Jehovah does not come to his help, he must succumb, and his enemies will triumph. But past reliance on Jehovah has not been vain; and he ends with a full assurance that he will live to praise Him for renewed deliverance.
Such may have been David’s feelings when he had been for some time a hunted fugitive (1 Samuel 27:1). The language is general, but one foe in particular stands out (Psalm 13:2; Psalm 13:4) above the rest of his ‘adversaries’ as specially powerful and relentless (1 Samuel 18:29; 1 Samuel 24:4; 1 Samuel 26:8). If the Psalm is David’s, it belongs to a somewhat later time than Psalms 7.
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?1. How long, O Lord, wilt thou forget me for ever? (R.V.) Feeling, not logic, shapes the sentence, combining two questions into a self-contradictory expression. He is tempted to deny faith’s confession (Psalm 9:18), and assent to the sneer of the godless (Psalm 10:11). He is ready to ask, ‘Wilt thou forget me for ever?’ but he thrusts the thought away with ‘How long?’ which implies a termination. In the words of Luther, ‘hope despairs and yet despair hopes.’ Cp. Psalm 79:5, Psalm 89:46.
wilt thou hide thy face] In anger or indifference. Cp. Psalm 10:1; Psalm 10:11; and contrast Psalm 4:6, Psalm 11:7.
1, 2. A reproachful expostulation in the hour of despair.
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?2. Lit. How long shall I set counsels in my soul? devising one plan after another in vain.
daily] The Heb. word means by day in contrast to by night (Psalm 22:2). We must either supply and by night (it is added in some MSS. of the LXX), or with R.V. render all the day, which however is hardly justified by usage. But an easy emendation gives the sense daily, which seems to be required by the context.
be exalted] Be in authority and have the upper hand. Cp. Psalm 12:8.
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;3. Behold (Psalm 10:14), instead of hiding Thy face, answer me (Psalm 3:4) instead of forgetting my need.
Lighten mine eyes] Revive and quicken me. The eyes are the index of vital energy. They ‘waste away,’ they lose their light, they ‘are darkened,’ by sickness or sorrow (Psalm 6:7, Psalm 38:10; Lamentations 5:17). They are ‘enlightened’ when strength and spirits are restored (1 Samuel 14:27; 1 Samuel 14:29; Ezra 9:8). It is the light of God’s face, the illumination of His love and favour, which is the source of life (Psalm 4:6; Psalm 31:16; Psalm 36:9).
3, 4. A prayer, in calmer tone.
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.4. and those &c.] R.V., Lest mine adversaries rejoice when I am moved. Cp. Psalm 38:16. And by their triumph, as the emphatic contrast of the following verse implies, the honour of God Whom he trusts will suffer.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.5. More exactly:
But as for me, in thy lovingkindness do I trust. Cp. Psalm 5:7.
My heart shall rejoice … I will sing] Better: let my heart rejoice … let me sing. Faith has triumphed. He can look forward with confidence. But humility transforms his resolution to give thanks into a prayer.
Because he hath dealt bountifully with me] He looks back from the stand-point of deliverance granted. P.B. V. follows the LXX in adding from Psalm 7:17, Yea, I will praise the Name of the Lord most Highest.
5, 6. The joy of deliverance.
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.