The "How Long's" Of Your Life
The Pit, the Penthouse and the Prayer - Psalm 13
Read Psalm 13, verses 1 - 6
And so after beginning with a cry from the heart of David,
this Psalm ends with a song from that same heart. Psalm 13
encompasses the pit, the prayer and the penthouse.
There are 4 ‘How Longs?’ - 4 cries from the heart of David
in the pit of darkness, doubt and despair -
a cry of fear
a cry of forsakenness
a cry of frustration and
a cry of failure.
These cries were beggars asking for patience and peace,
asking for the Divine Presence and understanding.
The pit looked like it was bottomless and there was no way out.
You have had your ‘how longs’ too, wondering how long you can
You have had cries out of the darkness, despair and doubt.
You may be wondering, ‘What is the answer?’
You may think it strange but this is my favorite Psalm -
not the 23rd, the great Psalm of the Great Shepherd,
or 103, which speaks so magnificently of the Lord’s mercies,
forgiveness and compassion,
Not Old One-Hundred, which so many people love,
not David’s Psalm of repentance and confession - 51,
but this one, Psalm 13.
The beauty of this Psalm is in its sincerity and honesty and cries
from the heart.
We won’t always sing psalms of thanksgiving & joy.
At times we feel defeated and worthless, and we are.
Our song is not always one of praise.
Without seeing it coming, we all too often find ourselves in the pit of gloom.
But we can cry out to the Lord and get lifted up and get back what we have lost.
I The first how long is the cry of fear - verse 1 - "How long will
you forget me, O Lord? Forever?"
David can even see the specter of death stalking him. Vs 3 "…lighten
my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death."
Is there any fear greater than this? - when the enemy has burst
through the walls and ready to let loose with a javelin - or a pistol -
or a word like, "I’m afraid it’s cancer".
And now has God forgotten him? He’s afraid it’s true
And will it go on forever? He’s afraid it will.
His heart has already voiced his trust in God. He has written words
such as, 2:11; 3:3-6,8; 4:7,8; 5:11; 8:1; 11:1a,3 (read these)
And now it seemed that the foundations had been destroyed.
If God has forgotten him, then it’s all over.
But when David prayed from the pit, he learned that the Lord was
right there in the pit with him - even in the darkness, despair and
doubt, God was saying to him "my thoughts toward thee are more
in number that the stars in the sky - could a loving father forget His
son, or a caring mother her babe?
Later, David would write the words of Psalm 56:1-3 (Read)
II The second ‘How long?’ is the cry of forsakenness -
verse 1 "…How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?"
When you’re in the pit of darkness and despair, solitary and
alone, doubt arises and faith sinks.
Cries to God usually seem to bounce off the ceiling. Some say that
silence is golden; but when it’s God who is silent, then it’s not
golden, it’s black.
Our heavenly Father seems to have turned His back on us.
You have felt this way and you’re not the first.
It doesn’t make you an unbeliever or a second class Christian.
Many other Bible characters have gone through the same
darkness as David and as you have.
Elijah wanted to die, it was so bad.
Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because he cried
Ezekiel endured the death of his wife as he served the Lord.
Daniel was torn from his home as a young boy and led
captive to Babylon.
Hosea suffered through a heartbreaking marriage - it was
ordained by God.
Amos faced lies and ridicule all through his ministry.
Just think of the names Joseph and Job and you think of
circumstances of darkness and despair.
Mary felt forsaken when her friend, Jesus, failed
to come when her brother Lazarus was dying. She knew
He could have saved Lazarus if He had only come. She felt
forsaken when he didn’t
Sometimes when we are in the darkness of the pit and life
seems to be on hold, you can’t see the way out and you
begin to believe there isn’t one.
And in those times, enter the Devil into the scene, making it
worse, bringing his deceptions and lies, trying to make you
think, that in spite of God’s great love,
in spite of Jesus’ great sacrifice,
in spite of the cross, the empty tomb and the power of the
resurrection, that God has abandoned you. The Lord may be
with everyone else, but He has forsaken you.
But God does not abandon His people.
Nothing can separate us from His love, not in this world,
or the next.
We are more than conquerors through His love…He will
never leave us or forsake us.
Mary was not forsaken when her brother died - it was a
matter of the Lord’s timing. He delayed His arrival so that
even a more wonderful miracle would be seen - the raising of
Lazarus and the Lord’s revelation, "I am the resurrection and the
life, he that believeth on me shall never die…"
Daniel wasn’t forsaken by the Lord. He was moved to another
land in the Lord’s great plan to exercise a godly influence in the
devil’s kingdom, be instrumental in Nebuchadnezzar’s salvation,
and be the forerunner or progenitor of the Magi, who would be looking
for the coming of God the Son in the first Century.
Joseph wasn’t forsaken by the Lord - Again it was all part of the Lord’s
plan to ensure life during a time of fathom and to bring all the sons
of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into a place of safety where they could
grow strong and increase in numbers until the day when under Moses
and Joshua they could inherit the Promised Land.
Neither were any of the others I mentioned forsaken by the Lord.
One man - and only one - was ever abandoned to the
darkness by God the Father - just One.
This man was hanging from a Roman cross, and crying
out, "My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?"
God the Son. Jesus
Because Jesus was forsaken that very moment when all the sins
of the world, when all the evil iniquity of every person
created in the image of God, was laid upon Him, and He
suffered and died, a substitute sacrifice for us, his shed
blood cleansing us from all sin - because He was forsaken,
we will never be forsaken,
we will never be rejected,
we will never be abandoned.
Oh, how true it is - ‘It is well - it is well - it is well with my soul
In Christ we have been justified by faith and we have
peace with God. It is well with my soul.
In Christ we access by faith into this grace wherein we
stand. It is well with my soul.
In Christ we have the certain abiding, indwelling and
presence of the Holy Spirit. It is well with my soul.
In Christ we have the forgiveness of sins - that which
previously barred us from the presence of the Lord no
longer exists. It is well with my soul.
In Christ we have an eternal home in the everlasting
heavens and the everlasting presence.
Praise the Lord! And thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through
Jesus Christ our Lord. It is well with my soul.
O, you who are still in the pit of darkness, despair and
doubt, can you not hear Him calling:
"Come unto me all ye that labor and who are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
"I have come that you might have life and that
you might have it more abundantly."
"I will hold your right hand and be with you."
Can’t you hear Him calling you to that Haven of Rest
underneath the everlasting arms of might and love?
III The third ‘How long?’ is the cry of frustration,
verse 2, "How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart daily?"
Did you ever try to think - to think clearly - to make a
wise decision - when your heart is broken, or when the
tears are falling, or when the memories of failure, or
foolish words or angry scenes fill the mind, or when the
presence of guilt steals clarity of thought, steals the
remembrance of God’s love, steals the truths of God’s
promises? You can’t think clearly under such circum-
stances. It’s impossible. It’s like there’s a dense fog
in your brain. Of course, that’s the way it always is for some
of us! This is emotional bankruptcy with no reserves.
The crying heart is begging for counsel but the grieving
heart can’t deliver that counsel for the soul - There is only
one thing there - grief. This is frustration - terrible frustration.
So David cries, "How long?" How long is this going to
go on. Forever? How long must I battle with my
thoughts? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
How long must I crawl in the mud of confused emotion
So what do you do when you need counsel and your
heart can’t give it?
You do what David did - you pray.
You pray for patience until it comes. "You have need
of patience that, after you have done the will of God, ye
might receive the promise." (Hebrews 10:36)
You pray for peace until peace comes for ‘the peace of God
that passeth all understanding, guards your heart and mind
through Christ Jesus, our Lord.’
You pray for trust until trust comes, for the Scripture says "Trust in the Lord
with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding;
in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy
paths." (Proverbs 3:5,6)
You pray for submission to His time schedule until submission comes,
for our times are in His hands.
You pray for contentment in your present situation until
contentment comes. The Apostle Paul lived through every
kind of suffering known to man - read 2 Corinthians 11 and
you’ll see what I mean- and yet he wrote "I have learned in
whatever state I am to be content." (Philippians 4:11)
You pray for a friend who can counsel you and encourage
you until the friend comes. The other day I was reading
about a movie called Alaska. In one scene the main
character, a teenage boy, falls into the raging rapids of a
white water river. He is swept along, pulled under, smashed
against rocks, swallowing water, and losing hope. Several
times he was able to swim towards shore, but there were
high, smooth and slippery rocks there that he cannot hold
unto. He tries but keeps falling back, weaker each time.
Then suddenly and unexpectedly a hand reaches down,
grabs his arm, pulls him up unto the rocks. It was the hand
of a neighbor who had gone out in a search party looking
You know - in the church we all should be part of a search
party, looking for the hurting. There are folks all around us
who are screaming inside and drowning in the rapids of life.
The call of the Christian life is to live in the family of God,
not in a solitary existence. The call to the healthy is to find those who are
hurting and to come to their help. The call to the hurting is to find
the search party and get help. Romans 12:15 reminds
us to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those
who weep’. In 2 Corinthians 1:4 Paul is thankful because
God ‘comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able
to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort
wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.’
We have a wonderful opportunity in this hurting and grieving
world. When we meet another person and lovingly walk
through the valley of the shadow of death with them, we are
sharing Jesus’ love in a wonderful way with them - we are sharing our love
for Him, His love for us and victory over death through the
power of the resurrection.
IV In verse 2, David also cries out, "How long shall my enemy be
exalted over me?" This is the ‘How long?’ of failure - of
certain defeat at the hand of our foes, our enemies.
We don’t exactly know what David’s situation was here, but he
certainly had many enemies - Saul, who chased him around the countryside
for so many years to try to kill him -
There was all that warfare with the Philistines,
his own family, his own son tried to kill him
sometimes his own heart betrayed him.
The man today who knows his enemies has taken the second
step to victory over them!
The first step once again is prayer.
Oh, how I love to sing:
"From victory unto victory,
His army shall He lead,
‘Til every foe is vanquished,
And Christ is Lord indeed."
"O, Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing blood."
"What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry, everything
To God in Prayer."
" But, O, what peace we often forfeit,
O, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer."
Psalm 13 started out with darkness, doubt and despair.
David’s heart was crying out with fear, frustration,
forsakenness, and failure. He was sinking deeper,
deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit.
But prayer lifted him out of the mirey clay of the
dark pit of desperation and put him in the bright
penthouse of delight. Prayer lifted him. Prayer
lifted him. When nothing else could help, prayer
lifted him. Prayer can lift you too.
Look how David’s sorrow became a song, (read verses 5&6.
Mercy took care of the past.
Salvation takes care of the future.
Joy takes care of the present.
In the very next verse, which is in the next Psalm, he would declare, "The fool
hath said in his heart, there is no God." We need the Lord so much.
The apparent forgetfulness of God is contrasted with
His unfailing mercy as David - praying - is brought out of the pit.
Pain and sorrow are counseled by the Lord’s Divine joy.
The fear of death is defeated by His salvation.
The foes that have attacked cannot hold a candle to the
Lord who dealt so bountifully with David.
Has David’s circumstances changed? No.
But prayer changed his heart.
Call out to God.
Shout out your feelings to Him.
Scream out your pain to Him.
Bare to Him your ‘How longs’.
Tell Him about the pit that you’re in.
"Call unto me," He promises, "and I will answer thee, and
shew thee great and mighty things that thou knowest not."
Why don’t you come right down here to these kneeling
prayer benches and turn it all over to Him. You can come
while we’re singing number 491 "Jesus, I come".
A friend will come and pray with you.