What does Psalms 13 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
David begins this psalm on a note of despair. He feels that the Lord is far from him. David is full of sorrow, thinking about his enemy. This may have been written during the time when King Saul sought to kill David (1 Samuel 19:1–2). With an enemy using the resources of an entire nation to pursue him, David would have felt overwhelmed and helpless. Expressing sincere emotion, David feels as if God has forgotten him. He looks in vain for a way to defeat his enemies. He finally turns to the Lord in faith and asks for an answer. His question is not merely a request for knowledge, but for explanation—to know why these things are happening. David asks for enlightenment, which likely includes energy and strength. He knows that only God can rescue him. Unless the Lord intervenes, David expects to be defeated, and believes his enemies are already celebrating because of his fear (Psalm 13:1–4).

However, David's faith does not fail. Though he does not fully understand "why" these things happen, he maintains his trust in God. He relies on the Lord's unfailing love and rejoices in His salvation. David recalls the Lord's goodness to him, and this causes him to sing. The psalm begins on a note of sorrow and ends with a joyful song. Doubt brings sorrow; faith brings praise (Psalm 13:5–6).
Verse Context:
Psalm 13:1–4 exposed David's sorrow and doubt. These are not uncommon emotions, and Scripture includes moments when believers cry out to God in their confusion. In this situation, David feels the Lord has forgotten him and turned His face away. He asks the Lord how long he must struggle, seemingly alone. He asks why he is suffering this danger, and this pressure, and when his enemy will finally be defeated. He is concerned that his enemy will claim the victory over him. Though David is confused and frustrated, he does not turn away from God, as the last verses show (Psalm 13:5–6).
Psalm 13:5–6 forms an important perspective when reading David's earlier cries of frustration (Psalm 13:1–4). David felt he could bring his confusion, hurt, and hardship to God. There, he expressed fears of defeat and a desire to know why God had not yet brought victory. These closing verses express an important background for those questions: David's confidence in the Lord and his joy. David recognizes that God loves him in difficult circumstances just as much as in times of safety. The Lord has proven His grace, so even when he does not fully understand, David chooses to trust in God.
Chapter Summary:
Perhaps facing the overwhelming prospect of a murderous king (1 Samuel 19:1–2), David cries to God in frustration. In his circumstances, he feels abandoned and unloved. He begs God to consider his situation and answer him. David is not merely asking for help; he is asking for an explanation. Despite his confusion, David continues to trust in God and does so confidently. Because God has proven Himself already, David chooses faith in the Lord.
Chapter Context:
This psalm, like so many others, honestly expresses feelings of fear and frustration. This may have been composed during David's time hiding in the wilderness from King Saul (1 Samuel 19:1–2). This is one of many passages where believers sincerely cry out to God with their confusion and pain, not understanding why God has chosen to allow events to occur (Psalm 73:2–3; Habakkuk 1:2–4). As with those other Scriptures, this impassioned plea ends in an expression of trust and praise.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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