Psalm 13

This morning I criticised something in our Parish Magazine. It’s a rule of mine never to criticise without offering to help, so this evening I find myself with a deadline for two articles! One on my favourite Bible passage and one I volunteered, a report on Greenbelt. That will mean a reworking of my blog posts, so you’ll have read those. Here’s this evening’s written-on-the-train-with-help-from-Twitter effort…

Psalm 13

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

This is the well-thumbed page in my Bible, the link saved to my Favourites and it’s bookmarked on my Iphone app…

Finding Psalm 13 was like a light coming on in a very dark room. At the time I was surrounded by boundlessly confident Christian friends who could ‘just’ name and claim God’s blessings. So discovering a psalm that echoed exactly how I felt was, I suppose, the best way of grounding my faith. Yes, there are reams of Psalms written from unhappy places, but somehow even they all seemed ultimately too triumphant, too long, too showy. Psalm 13 is short and to the point. Has anyone been so lucky as to not know that sense of ‘how long must I wrestle with my thoughts?’ This is where the NIV & KJV wins; other translations don’t quite phrase it the same way and give that sense of trying to defeat the negativity, the harmful and worrisome thinking that somehow is never quite vanquished. I quite like the Message’s ‘I’ve carried this ton of trouble’ but it’s not quite the same feeling of that insistent, repetitious thinking that nothing quietens.

Some days, I have to stop at verse 4. These are mostly times when I wonder why our heartfelt pleas are falling on deaf ears, when my prayers seem to fall into a big black hole. Other days, good days, I can read the whole way to verse 6 and genuinely rejoice. But on all days, I am thankful for this tiny corner of the Bible, these six verses of Scripture that perfectly describe the complexities of faith.

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