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

continue on.

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

so often.

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

and thought?

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

for him.

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."

Jeremiah 33:3

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.