October 27 2022
Today, Thursday October 27
How Long, How Long, How Long
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
From the title we know that David is the writer of this Psalm. Spurgeon said that we don’t the birthplace of this Psalm and we can only guess. Other commentators seem to think that it could have been written about the time David was fleeing from King Saul who was attempting to kill him. Maybe years have passed since David had been anointed as the next king of Israel as a teenager. Soon after that he has the experience of his great victory over Goliath and is invited to a part of Saul’s court and even leads Saul’s military into battle with the Philistines. You can only imagine David’s thoughts as everything is working out to see God’s promise fulfilled! But then things begin to go south and the next thing you know he is fleeing for his life for the next 10 years.
As the years pass and David is in exile, you can see why he might write a Psalm like this and wonder “how long” it will be till God fulfills His promise to put him on the throne of Israel. It might be the same for you.
If we have ever been through some great trial we know what David was talking about. If we haven't been there yet, we will be. Job said, "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward."
David was talking about that knot in the stomach, that lead-weight in the heart that makes the thought of food nauseating and that steals every joy. We can't sleep, can't eat, can't settle to anything. Every time we try to get our mind on something else, back it comes—that gnawing ache inside.
It might be a health issue that is causing great pain or discomfort that seems to last year after year and after all the medicine and treatments it doesn’t get better but seems to get worse with time. It might be a family issue where there has been a separation or even a divorce, and you have prayed and prayed for resolution and for the relationship to be restored, but there appears to be no hope that the other party will ever change their mind or feelings. It could be a host of other pressures that deal with your vocation, your education, your children, or your finances that continue to worsen month after month and year after year! And after months and years of praying for relief and help, you can’t see any change and you feel like David and you also are crying out, “How long, O LORD?”
There were times when David confessed, "There is but a step between me and death" (1 Sam. 20:3). By the grace of God, David turned his sufferings into songs and left those songs behind to encourage us in our trials (2 Cor. 1:2-11). In this brief psalm, David deals with his feelings, his foes, and his faith.
David felt like God was hiding His face from him and he had been abandoned. Feeling like he was left to himself, David tried to devise various ways to overcome the enemy as he “took counsel in his soul” (v. 2), but nothing seemed to satisfy him. But faith is living without scheming; it means not leaning on our own experiences and skills and trying to plot our own schedule (Prov. 3:5-6). There were storm clouds in the sky, hiding the sun, but the sun was still shining. It's a dangerous thing to give in to our feelings, because feelings are deceptive and undependable (Jer. 17:9). When Jacob heard the news about Simeon being left hostage in Egypt, he gave up and announced that everything was against him (Gen. 42:36) when actually God was causing everything to work for him.
We must not deny our feelings and pretend that everything is going well, and there is no sin in asking, "How long?" But at the same time, we must realize how deceptive our feelings are and that God is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20) and can lift us above the emotional storms of life.
David eventually learned to replace his fears with faith and put his trust in the mercy of the Lord and His salvation (v. 5). Then his anxiety was turned into confidence as he sang to LORD and remember His goodness toward him! David’s circumstances didn’t change but when he looked up to the Lord and His mercy, his attitude and perspective changed!
May the Lord help us all to learn this lesson!