God’s Answer for Troubled Hearts: Psalm 13: Part I
Inner-Man Turmoil

Introduction:The two-part series: God’s Answer for Troubled Hearts: Psalm 13 unpacks reasons for and God’s way of victory for the person with a troubled heart. Inner-man turmoil is a common feature of sinners, both saved and unsaved, who live in a sin-cursed world. It is God’s world and He and only He has answers for the real issues of life.

Psalm 13 is short (six verses) and is authored by David as are almost all of the Psalms in Book I (Psalms 1-41). Book I centers on the rise of the Davidic kingdom. The theme of the Book is confrontation and conflict with both David’s and God’s enemies within Israel as well as outside of Israel. David is establishing a kingdom of peace and righteousness but there is much anguish. Kingdom building is hard work! The historical context of Psalm 13 is not known.
v.1: How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
v.2: How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemies triumph over me?
v.3: Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death;
v.4: my enemy will say I have overcome him, and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
v.5: But I must trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
v.6: I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.

Establishing the messianic kingdom as God’s agent and anointed one was perilous, exacting, and pressure-packed. Unlike Jesus Christ, David did not volunteer. God chose him whereas Jesus Christ, in submission to the Godhead, humbled Himself and came to do His Father’s will (John 4:31-34; 6:37-43). How much theology David knew we are not told. But it is clear that David knew God and he knew God knew him. The Triune God is relational and He created man a relational being. Relationships do matter. David knew this and acted upon it. Moreover, God holds His people close to Him. These truths were fundamental for Jesus the greater David and for David. They are to be precious and acted upon by every believer.

David trained himself in regard to his response to God as he was being prepared to assume his position as king. His position as a young, lowly shepherd was a most fitting place for David to start his training. As God’s chosen man, David would not kill Saul who was ruling as the Lord’s anointed whereas Saul had one aim: to kill David (1 Samuel 24:4-7; 26:9-11).

Psalm 13 tells us that David was faced with another but unknown to us pressure-packed situation. Armed with the truth that he had an inseparable, personal relationship with God, David went to God humbly and yet confidently and courageously (verses 1-2). He knew God heard and answered his prayer. Jesus Christ, the greater David, was in relation to the Father. He, too, knew that the Father heard and answered every prayer. So, too, should every believer.

Verse 1 presents facts about David. In his situation, David honestly asked how long God would hide himself – how long would the situation continue. David prayed to his hidden God! In spite of the circumstances, David knew that God was his and not far away. However, based on his feelings and the circumstances interpreted through his feelings and what he could sense, it appeared He was. Both Job and David felt alone and their prayers were seemingly not heard. But both David and Job eventually learned and appreciated the truth that they could not let their interpretation of circumstances unfettered by truth and or feelings dictate reality.

Verse 2 continues to express his inner-man churning and turmoil. David asked how long he would have this anguish. He wanted relief. However from another perspective David asked when would God prove victorious? David was trying to make sense of God’s providence. David knew that God was in control but there was a but. He was thinking through so many things: God and His control and His trustworthiness; himself as God’s chosen messiah, his present situation, and his trust or lack therefore of God. The latter part of the verse gives insight into at least one aspect of David: he knew that his enemies were God’s enemies. Would they triumph? If so, what would happen to the kingdom? What would happen to God’s honor? Self took a backseat for David as it did for the greater David (Matthew 26:36-46 and parallels).

In verses 3-4, David pleads with God to turn on the lights. These pleas were based on David’s knowledge of God’s relationship to him and him with Yahweh. We all need the lights turned on. Too often we live in the darkness of our own ignorance and arrogance blaming bad feelings on God’s providence. However, the Holy Spirit was alive and well in the Old Testament as well as in the New! Paul, like David, wanted to be in the light and experience the presence of God. Both David throughout the Psalms and Paul prayed for enlightenment for themselves and their people (Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-12; Colossians 1:9-11).
Verses 5-6 records David’s humble but joyful and wise response. He would and did trust, rejoice, and sing. David knew His God was present, powerful, purposeful, and promise-keeping. God is faithful to His covenant. He is God of the universe including David’s world. David grabbed and embraced this truth and held on to it. David acted on truth and not feelings. He correctly interpreted circumstances. Consequently, he rejoiced! God’s answer for troubled hearts was Himself!


1. When faced with God’s providence, what was David’s response?
2. What is the purpose of telling God how you feel?
3. What was David’s and what is your basis for trusting God?
4. How do you need to grow as a God-trusting person?

God’s Answer for Troubled Hearts: Psalm 13: Part II

We are examining Psalm 13 in the context of the structure and unity of the Psalter.
v.1: How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
v.2: How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemies triumph over me?
v.3: Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death;
v.4: my enemy will say I have overcome him, and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
v.5: But I must trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
v.6: I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.

Continuing our study: God’s answer for troubled hearts: Psalm 13, I opened with David on his knees before God! He was praying,asking God for insight in the form of a how-long format. He was besieged as God’s messianic agent. The “bad guys” were winning and the “good guys” were losing. David was on the run. His heart was troubled – his whole person was affected by the situation AND his response to it. But David made the only logical response. He cried out to God. David knew God’s Answers for troubled hearts would be given to him.  David’s prayers were confidant ones based on his known relationship with God and more importantly God’s to him. He knew that God David knew his privilege and responsibility of his messianic mission and God’s trustworthiness. However, circumstances seemed to negate any truth that the messianic mission would be accomplished.

Dependent on and confident in Yahweh’s proven trustworthiness and goodness. David moved toward God. But someone may say: tell God how you feel, what you want, and pray and trust that He will give it to you.. Wow! Is getting in touch with your feelings (however one does that!) and telling God what you want really the key to praying and living in a God-honor manner? Is that really God’s answer for troubled hearts? Is that how you use unpleasantness ordained by God to become more like Christ? I don’t believe that is what Paul, David, or the greater David thought and did.

Feelings are the result of thinking and wanting. They have an origin. David was able to get victory (verse 5-6) because he focused on God and His truth rather than on feelings, circumstances, and self. He brought his thoughts and desires in line with biblical truth. He presented his perception of the situation humbly and honestly to the Lord. That does not mean that he did not present them forcefully with vigor and even with feeling! God’s hard providence is just that: hard. But they are what a completely powerful sovereign God who is infinite in wisdom and perfect and overflowing with love has ordained for the person.
David was victorious because he interpreted his situation based not on feelings and his logic, but on his relationship with God who he knew personally. But more than that, he knew God knew him! Truth always trumps feelings. But truth must be applied (Matthew 7:24-27; John 13;18; James 1:25). The blessing comes in the doing and applying.

Verses 5-6 spell out the choice that David faced. His choice was between trusting self and feelings and trusting God and truth (Proverbs 3:5-8). He had heard and seen his situation via his senses. His interpretative grid was either biblical truth informed saving faith and true hope. Or it was his feelings and reasoning divorced from God’s truth. He had a choice: fear of God or fear of man.
As did the psalmists in Psalm 42-43 and Psalm 73 and the prodigal son, David counseled himself (Psalms 42:5, 11; 43:5; 73:16-18; Luke 15:17-18). David had hidden the word of God in his heart (as given in Psalm 119:9-11). He recalled God’s truth and acted upon it as a whole person: thoughts, desires, and actions in both his body including the brain and his inner man (usually portrayed as the heart). Motivated by the overwhelming desire to please God David followed the word of God: trust and obey. The particulars of that obedience have to be worked out in each situation.

Some may say that the pressure of God’s providence (interpreted as bad situations which somehow produce bad feelings) makes it impossible to think and desire in a God-pleasing manner. The only recourse is to tell God how you feel and what you want. This Psalm among others, teaches believers that is not God’s way. David did not begin to think God’s thoughts and desire what God desires at the moment he wrote Psalm 13. Rather God had been maturing him and David had been maturing himself as he lived as a shepherd boy, as a soother of and rival to King Saul, and as one being prepared to establish God’s physical and spiritual kingdom. David understood that discomfort and unpleasantness was the context of his response to David. It would be for the greater David on a much larger scale. David as did Jesus knew circumstances and people do not determine his response. What he wrote in verses 5-6 was a whole-person heart response. He was truly a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).

Such it is with the greater David, Jesus Christ. Sinless Jesus was faced with enemies all around Him. People sinned against Him, yet He proved covenantally faithful. He was committed to pleasing His Father. He knew that submission to the Father included the cross. That does not mean that Jesus was a stoic in the bad sense of the word. He knew the Triune God, His mission, what kind of people He was living and dying for – ignorant and arrogant enemies of God (Romans 5:6-10). Yet reconciling these people to Himself through the cross as a loser was the motivator for Jesus to pursue victory. Along the way He grieved God’s way. He grieved over His disciples and apostles who did not seem to get it. He grieved at Lazarus’ tomb in John 11. I think this was a preview of the cross: to reverse the curse and secure a people for Himself, going to hell on the cross was required. Of course He grieved especially noted in the gospel of Luke (Luke 13:1-9, 34-35; 19:41-44; 23:28-31). Jesus knew and “saw” the results of what ignorance and arrogance results if the person does not repent. He knew and even tasted death in order to bring to life; darkness in order to bring light. Jesus understood what others did not and in a most profound divine way. He came to His people but the rejected Him as a nation (John 1:4-5, 9-11; 3:17-21).

The cross and Jesus as the perfect Sacrifice and perfect High Priest were God’s mean for accomplishing Jesus’s Messianic mission. King David bore witness of God’s covenantal faithfulness which resulted in a proper response to Him (verses 5-6). King David’s response pointed to and imitated the greater David’s response to His Father. The coming of the Kingdom was essential to both David and Jesus. All believers must and will follow the example of the lesser and greater David seeking first God and His glory. Circumstances may not change but God-honoring victory will come (1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:13)


1. How are the lesser David and the greater David similar and dissimilar?
2. What foundational truths did each of them hold fast and what were the results?
3. How did David and Christ spell victory?