Psalm 13 – How Long O Lord

by Timothy Shorey

“[Psalm 13] was, doubtless, more than once the language of [David], that much tried man of God, and is intended to express the feelings of the people of God in those ever-returning trials which beset them. If [you] have never yet found occasion to use the language of this brief ode, [you] will do so [before] long… We have been [inclined] to call this the ‘How Long Psalm.’ We had almost said the “Howling Psalm”, from the incessant repetition of the cry ‘How long?’… [which reveals] a very intense desire for deliverance, and great anguish of heart…Is not this [a true] portrait of our own experience? It is not easy to prevent desire from degenerating into impatience… [But] God is not far from the voice of our roaring…” (C.H. Spurgeon)

Cardiphonia:* This is not the first time we have read/sung the words “How Long?”. Nor will it be the last. In this simple short psalm, the longing question is asked four times in six verses; not counting a “Will you forget me forever?” cry as well. Anyone who has lived and loved long will at some point have suffered long; and will have cried “How Long?” at least in the heart. And this is not wrong. David did it. The saints in God’s presence right now have done it (Revelation 6:9, 10). And even Jesus did it (Matthew 17:16). When we have such moments, we may find comfort in knowing that Jesus and the perfected saints in heaven have had such moments, too. We are not alone, but are cared for by One who has been where we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:14-16).

* A word coined by and borrowed from John Newton (meaning “sounds of the heart”). The Cardiphonia comments in the Shorey Psalter are my personal reflections on the Psalm.


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