(Make sure you read Psalm 13 before you read any further.
Done? Good. Now take a breath.
And another one. Long and deep and slow.
Read Psalm 13 one more time. S l o w l y.
Sometimes, certain psalms seem all that similar to other psalms, and we fall into the trap of thinking we don’t need to fully pay attention to the psalm that’s actually in front of us because we’ve heard “it” so many times before. So, sometimes, we need to take a breath and read it again.
Here we go.)
* * *
There are seasons in our lives when we feel like we’ve been forgotten. Like we are struggling, and God is nowhere to be seen. Like we’ve been waiting for help for so long that any glimmer of hope has gone out of our eyes.
That may not be your story right this moment, but such seasons do come.
Sometimes, we have to continue through terrible, heavy situations for days, weeks, or months on end. We cry out again and again, and it does not seem like God is answering. Nothing changes.
The pregnancy test is negative—again. How long, O Lord?
A 12-year-old boy brings home another failed math test after studying all night for it. How long, O Lord?
A girl’s father comes home drunk, again. How long, O Lord?
The farmer watches the dust roll across his withered field. How long, O Lord?
The woman who is no longer middle-aged but not yet elderly leaves church on Sunday morning without being greeted by anyone. How long, O Lord?
How long, O Lord?
This is the story of Psalm 13. This psalm captures a moment of intense pain in the psalmist’s apparent separation from God’s presence:
Sorrow pulls the psalmist’s chest to the floor. The psalmist’s pleadings tumble forth like persistent waves in a storm. But God has not appeared.
Despair seems heavy enough to crush the very life from the psalmist.
Then, this psalm captures a moment of turning. From beneath the weight of sorrow and despair, the psalmist turns toward the Lord.
I trust you. My heart will rejoice. I will sing.
And why does the psalmist do all these things?
Because the Lord has dealt bountifully with the psalmist.1
What an interesting wording for that last verse. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone remark that they were dealt with bountifully before.
The word “bountiful” makes me think of Thanksgiving. People gathered together around a bountiful feast in celebration and gratitude for the bounty they have been given.
Bounty is a word of overflowing fullness.
Bounty is a word of abundance and generosity.
We have seen the Lord deal bountifully.
We see it in Moses’ bare feet before the burning bush, a man saved by the Lord in order to become an instrument of his people’s salvation.
We see it in every birth.
We witness it when a mother embraces her soldier son, newly off the plane from Iraq.
We hear it in the stories of God’s persistent faithfulness which a grandfather tells to his grandchildren.
We see it on the cross and in the empty tomb.
There will still be times when it seems as though we have been forgotten, when we are unable to see evidence of God’s unfailing love.
But we carry with us the testimonies of the Lord’s bountiful dealings.
They will be there for us to lean on, if we take the time to remember.
They will be the song inside us, the song the psalmist sings in v. 6, words that are waiting for us to turn towards God so that they may burst forth from our hearts.
These testimonies will remind us of this simple but mighty truth:
God does not forget us. God deals bountifully.
Not all translations use the phrase “dealt bountifully.” A few of the ones that do are the NRSV (this is the version I used), ESV, NASB, KJV, ASB, etc. ↩
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