Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Praying "In Your Face" Prayers to God (Psalm 13)

Scripture: Psalm 13
1. For the Director, a song, Davidic
2. How long are You going to forget about me, Yahweh--for forever?
            How long are You going to hide Your Face from me?
3. How long am I going put recommendations in my soul?
            Sorrow is in my heart daily!
            How long will my enemy triumph against me?
4. Look! Answer me, Yahweh my God!
            Make my eyes shine [with joy/life],
                   so I don’t sleep in death!
5.                       so my enemy can’t say “I overpowered him!”
    my oppressors celebrate because I am wobbling!
6.          But I with trust in Your loyalty!
    My heart celebrates in Your Salvation
            I will sing to Yahweh,
                    because He acts to benefit me

1.      Structure
a.       Strophe 1 (vv.2-3):      How Long?!
A         How long do will You forget about me?
B         How long will You avoid me?
C         How long do I have to make plans?
D         I’m always depressed!
C         How long will my enemy win?
b.      Strophe 2 (vv.4a-5a):  Do something!
A         Look at what’s happening
B         Answer my prayer
A’        Make my eyes happy
            C         So I don’t die
            C’        So my enemy can’t gloat
c.       Strophe 3 (vv.5b-6d):  I will do something!
A         My enemy celebrates my trouble
            B         But I trust in you
A’        I celebrate in Your salvation
C         I will sing to Yahweh
D         Because/that He acts for my benefit/on my behalf
2.      Themes
a.       How long
                                                              i.      This phrase is repeated 4 times right after another, except with a minor intrusion of a short line in between the 3rd and 4th instances.
                                                            ii.      There is a strong and forceful drive of wondering how long the suffering will continue, it is at the same time both a legitimate question and an indictment/complaint against Yahweh, that is it is both asking how long he has to wait for Yahweh to do something and at the same time saying that Yahweh is taking too long, that He is not meeting the author’s expectations, that He seems to be pushing the boundaries of what keeping His promises means.
                                                          iii.      This implies a few other themes, namely that the author has a relationship with Yahweh and that Yahweh is His Savior, and that the author trusts Yahweh
                                                          iv.      It is a very bold statement, which has implications on how we can interact with God, it is a very natural conversation
b.      Enemies
                                                              i.      Two words for enemies are used, one is the traditional word “enemies” but the other one has to do with oppressors, those who cause trouble, that is one word seems to be more focused on the relationship, while the other is more focused on what they are doing that makes them enemies, איב is the more relational term, focusing on the hostile disposition, while צר seems to focus more on what the person does, namely cause trouble and difficulty, but to some extent it is a very relational term as well, since Yahweh is said to have צרים, which does imply that they are not by definition people who make someone’s life miserable and pressured, since Yahweh doesn’t get pressured by people. So here, there may be a slight emphasis on what the people do, but mostly it is used as a colorful synonym for איב. Both are probably very marked by the hostile relationship.
                                                            ii.      To some extent the mention of enemies is to function as a contrast to the psalmist, this is explicit in the final strophe especially
c.       Problems
                                                              i.      So the problems for the author are numerous and diverse
                                                            ii.      The first problem is the lack of Yahweh’s help or answering, that is the length of time that the suffering has continued
                                                          iii.      The next problem mentioned is that Yahweh seems to have withdrawn from the psalmist, it feels like Yahweh is close, that He is holding His Presence back from the psalmist, that the relationship is distant
                                                          iv.      The next problem is that the author is dealing with enemies, likely physical enemies, but it could be political/social enemies, who are getting the upper hand
                                                            v.      The final problem is that all these problems have brought the psalmist into a sad/depressed state
                                                          vi.      It is a nasty cocktail of misery, all located in the first strophe
                                                        vii.      The other strophes indicate that there could be a risk of death and the risk of shame that is troubling the psalmist
d.      Abandonment
                                                              i.      This is indicated by the first bicola, v.2, where Yahweh seems to have not just forgotten about the psalmist, at least from the psalmist’s perspective, but also have actively withheld His comforting or perhaps blessing Presence, the problem seems to be not just that Yahweh isn’t doing anything, but that He doesn’t feel close, that He won’t connect with the psalmist, this may be more implicit than explicit, but it seems to include the experiential component not just the activity component
                                                            ii.      This would feel like total abandonment to the psalmist and he wants to know how long it is going to last
e.       Seeing/eyes
                                                              i.      This is a minor theme in the central strophe
                                                            ii.      The author calls on Yahweh to look, to inspect what’s going on, but then later he asks Yahweh to make his eyes shine, which also would likely have something to do with seeing, but really has the dual force of physical and emotional vitality
f.       Celebration
                                                              i.      This is a theme of the final strophe, where there is an explicit contrast between what the enemies of the author are celebrating and what the author is celebrating, the enemies are celebrating the wavering, the near downfall of the author, but the author is celebrating the salvation of Yahweh, His rescuing the author from his enemies, the irony is the enemies are celebrating a demise not yet here, and the author is celebrating a salvation not yet here, but we know by faith that His celebration and hope is not misplaced!
g.      Singing
                                                              i.      This is under the heading of “song” and the final verse mentions singing, so the whole thing is likely a song meant to be sung
h.      Trust
                                                              i.      The trust is explicitly stated in v.6, but it is also implied by the way the first strophe is phased, it comes out of a confusion induced by the faith of the psalmist, but also it is being prayed from the perspective of faith, perhaps a wobbling faith, but faith
                                                            ii.      The central strophe is a clear prayer which depends on the trust that Yahweh will answer  
i.        Salvation
                                                              i.      The psalm hinges on the waiting for salvation, and the call for salvation and the trust in Yahweh’s salvation and delight in His salvation
j.        Prayer
                                                              i.      The whole thing is clearly a prayer, with perhaps the exception of the final two cola.
                                                            ii.      The honesty of the prayer and the gutsiness of the prayer is pretty intense.
                                                          iii.      It is filled with questions, natural conversation, and requests
k.      Relationship with Yahweh
                                                              i.      The whole psalm is predicated on the author having a relationship with Yahweh, that is why He can ask “how long” that is also why he can ask Yahweh to do something
                                                            ii.      The relationship is clearly appealed to in v.6, when He trusts in Yahweh’s loyalty, that loyalty is relational loyalty, that is the author is saying that Yahweh will be loyal to the relationship, to the relational commitments between them
                                                          iii.      The angst comes out of a close and trusting relationship with Yahweh
3.      Doctrines
a.       Yahweh saves
b.      Our prayers can be brutally honest
c.       Yahweh is all powerful
d.      Yahweh  cares
e.       Yahweh can be trusted
f.       Yahweh commits Himself to people
g.      Yahweh wants His people to be honest with Him
h.      Prayers work
i.        Yahweh’s people should trust Him
1.      This is really the kind of prayer that you can only pray if you have the guts, if you have the faith to pray it, because we can only ask “how long” if we trust in Yahweh as our God and Savior,
2.      We should thank Yahweh that He is the God Who can take our angst, our worries, our fears, our troubles, our confusion, our expectations
3.      Pray gutsy, angsty prayers!
4.      It’s ok to ask God why He is taking so long?
5.      It’s ok to tell God the problems that it seems like He is causing
6.      It’s ok to ask God to hold up His end of the relationship
7.      It’s ok to be honest with God that you are depressed
8.      It’s ok to get it God’s face a bit, it’s not ok to be disrespectful and untrusting, but it is ok to call on God to keep His promises, to take action, to tell you’re sick of what you’re going through, to say stuff that sounds a bit “risky” (that is stuff that runs contrary to the ways that we usually hear people pray or feel like our prayers are supposed to sound like, but not stuff that is theologically wrong or blasphemous or untrusting, I’m just saying our prayers don’t need to conform to “churchy” status quo prayers) as long as it is coming out of heart of faith and reliance on Yahweh
9.      Now, we have to be honest and understand that sometimes, Yahweh rejects immediate deliverance, He says that salvation is not coming in this life sometimes, and other times He says that our salvation will look different than we expect, but ultimately Yahweh also says to us right now, that our salvation on one level has already happened, that our salvation is now in Jesus the Messiah! But our expectation is not supposed to be that He won’t answer, or that He won’t save, but that He will! So don’t use the different forms of God’s answer as excuses to not believe that He does answer or that He does save, that He does keep His promises
10.  Be honest and real in your prayers

11.  Don't think that trusting in Yahweh means never praying a prayer that looks like Pslam 13, because psalm 13 is teaching us that prayers like this can be prayed and really can only be prayed genuinely and in a Godly way while holding on to Yahweh our Saving God in faith and our relationship with Him 

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