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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Psalms 13

Verses 1-6

In Psalms 13:0 we have the tried believer crying to God for deliverance and yet trusting in His overruling providence in spite of all the difficult circumstances of the way. Four times in the first two verses we get the cry, “How long?” “How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” This is the heart cry, not only of Christian people during this present age of grace when we have to suffer for righteousness’ sake, but also it is the cry of God’s earthly people, Israel, who, ever since that dread hour when they exclaimed, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25), have been suffering terribly because they failed to recognize their King when He came to bring deliverance.

While on our trip to the Holy Land my wife and my daughter and I stood by the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem, and for something like an hour we watched the Jews, several hundreds of them, as they faced that wall, all that is left of the great structure that Solomon once built (the Mohammedans have control of the temple area above), and we heard them repeating these cries from the Psalms. Mournfully these words rang out, “How long? How long shall the enemy oppress? How long shall Thy people suffer? How long till Messiah comes and brings deliverance?” As we stood with them we too cried, “How long?” and we prayed with them, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” for we knew what they do not yet know, that deliverance will come with the return of our blessed Lord. And so the righteous here are crying to God for this deliverance.

“Consider and hear me,” they pray, “O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” It is a very striking fact that death is presented both in the Old and New Testaments for the people of God as a sleep. That does not mean that when we put the bodies of our loved ones in Christ, away in the tomb, we bury all there is of them, that spirit, soul, and body go to sleep until the resurrection; for we know from Scripture that for the believer to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. When Christians die, they go directly to be with Christ, but the body sleeps, and that is what the Psalmist has in mind here. “Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.” In spite of difficult circumstances the saint of God looks up in confidence and says, “But I have trusted in Thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because He hath dealt bountifully with me.” I do not know anything but the salvation of God that can enable people to joy in the midst of sorrow and to praise in the hour of trial. The world has its Stoics, men who look at things in a philosophical kind of way and say, “I am not going to complain nor show the white feather,” and so they grit their teeth and go on. That is a great thing. A lot of folk have not attained even to that. But that is not Christianity. Christianity enables one not only to endure uncomplainingly, but it also fills the heart and lips with songs in the night of sorrow and enables one to glory in tribulation. And so will it be with God’s people in the dark, dark days when the antichrist will be manifested and they will be suffering under his cruel and wicked rule.

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 13". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.