Here the Psalmist is represented as crying out under grief of mind, from an apprehension of God's having withdrawn his face. He accompanies his prayers with professing faith in God's return, and concludes with praise.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
While we keep in view the person of our Lord, whose desertions of the Father for our sins, which he bore, made him eminently distinguished in this instance, as well as all others, for the greatness of his sufferings; we may very profitably make improvement of this Psalm, both in the complaint and cure, according to our own personal concern in what is here said. But, Reader! while we feel and groan under the many how longs in which we estimate the time of our exercises, do let us seek for grace to be looking more to Jesus, than be thus taking counsel in our own souls. Depend upon it, that our poring over ourselves, and what we feel in infirmities and the like, instead of looking, as we are continually enjoined, to the Lord, and casting all our care upon him who careth for us, is one sad cause, and a very great cause too, of all our misery. Psalms 34:4-6.
It is profitable when our complaints lead to prayer. That affliction, be it what it may, which leads to Jesus is blessed. Jesus himself, being in an agony, prayed more earnestly. Oh! how very sweet and sanctified is it, to trace the manhood of Jesus in his footsteps going before us. Luke 22:44.
What a blessed argument hath the Holy Ghost provided here, and put in the mouth of the people of God, for pleading at the throne! Shall the enemy triumph? Shall the efficacy of Christ's blood and righteousness fail? Shall God's faithfulness be lost? Shall my case be the only one where divine grace is not manifested? Surely, Lord, thou art the Holy One of Israel still; and thou hast been a refuge to all who have called upon thee. I will trust, I will not be afraid. The Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2. Reader! how beautiful it is, when by looking out of ourselves, and looking to all-precious Jesus, faith finds strength to rely upon him who is the Lord our righteousness? Faith begets prayer, and prayer calls in Jesus.
See how the note is changed. Yes! when a soul is thus enabled to act faith upon Jesus, and the divine promises in him, there will be soon cause to praise and sing aloud of God's faithfulness and bounty. But do not fail, Reader, to observe with me what the joy of the soul here is. Not that his frames were altered; not that his heart was enlarged; not that more light was brought into his soul: these things he had, and these were all precious; but these were the effects and not the cause of his joy. No! read the verse again, and you will see that what his heart rejoiced in was God's salvation, and God's mercy. And what is this but Jesus, all-precious, all-satisfying, soul-comforting Jesus? I pray you, Reader, mark it down as a matter of great importance for every occasion of soul exercises, that it is Jesus, and not our frames or feelings, that is the cause of all real joy. When we put the effects for the cause, and magnify the fruit of faith instead of the glorious object of faith; we place our comfort where it is not. So that when our frames alter, as alter they soon will, where is our joy then? But if we place it in Jesus, and have it in Jesus; here we may always find it, in every rainy, dark, or gloomy day that follows.
READER! in following the sweet steps of soul exercises which are marked in this Psalm, while God the Holy Ghost is our Guide, how lovely is it to eye Jesus as having gone before. Yes! thou Holy One of God! what sorrow, what trial, what distress or anguish of spirit can any one of thy redeemed be called to, where thy bright and blessed example doth not hold forth precious views to console, as well as gracious paths to follow. Oh, Lord! vouchsafe to sanctify every appointment to our furtherance in the greater knowledge of thee, and of our being conformed to thee in all things. And when, Lord, In dark seasons, the enemy cometh in like a flood, O let thy blessed Spirit lift thee up to our view, as a standard against him. And oh! our gracious God! let it please thee to grant, that when, from the darkness of our mind, we cannot see thy beauties so clear as at other times, nor our own personal interest in thee; then, blessed Jesus, may we have grace still to trust thee. If we cannot sing the song of triumph, still let us not bang the harp upon the willow, but cry after thee. Still let faith have its perfect work: and may we venture all upon thee, amidst all the darkness around, or the darkness within. Yes! precious Jesus, if thou wilt grant but faith to trust thee, to believe in thee, to hang upon thee, and to commit all into thy blessed hands, under all the emptiness and barrenness in our own hearts; faith thus acting all its workings upon thee, will at length find strength, and light, and life, in thee, and from thee; and thus our heaviness will be turned into joy, and we shall join in the same song, as the Psalmist here hath recorded, and sing unto the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with us.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29