March 22: Psalm 13
How long, O God?
76.76 D Passion Chorale (O Sacred Head, Now Wounded), p. 140
Aurelia (The Church’s One Foundation), p. 120
How long wilt Thou forget me? Shall it forever be?
O Lord, how long neglect me, and hide Thy face from me.
How long my soul take counsel, thus sad in heart each day?
How long shall foes, exulting, subject me to their sway?
O Lord, my God, consider, and hear my earnest cries;
Lest I in death should slumber, enlighten Thou mine eyes;
Lest foes be heard exclaiming, “Against him we prevailed”;
And they that vex my spirit rejoice when I have failed.
But on Thy tender mercy I ever have relied;
With joy in Thy salvation my heart shall still confide.
And I with voice of singing will praise the Lord alone,
Because to me His favor He has so largely shown.
The Christians of the East, along with many Christians of the West, are accustomed to praying Psalm 13 just before retiring for the night. Throughout this prayer there lurks the threatening presence of an Enemy, symbolized in the growing darkness. We can also hear this psalm as on the lips of the Lord Jesus during the night of His agony and betrayal. That overcast night was the encroaching hour of which He said to His enemies: “But this is your hour, when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53). As He enters the garden on that night to do battle with the Enemy, Jesus prays what may be taken as the cry of humanity itself, expelled from God’s presence in that original garden where we fell victim to the same Enemy: “How long, O Lord? Will You abandon me forever? How long will You turn Your face away from me?” This was the night in which Jesus said to his disciples: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death” (Matt. 26:38). That nocturnal engagement of Jesus in the garden is repeated, too, in the souls of those He has reconciled to God, for they also are summoned to the bearing of His cross, warring against the devil, sin, and death. But the Lord’s prayer concludes in tones of His final victory over these ancient enemies of the race: “But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (Reardon, p. 23-24)