How long, O Lord Will You forget me?
Ps 12 (13)
As is psalm 121, is considered to be the
keeping psalm, this psalm is the one of fear of
It is a psalm of a tired person who is afraid that
God may have forsaken him…
And it seems that his tiredness lasted for so
long and he became troubled because of its length.
That’s why he cries to the Lord saying: “How
long” and repeats it four times:
“How long, O Lord?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?”
This psalm was said by Prophet David
when he was being pursued by King Saul.
This evil king envied him and feared losing his
kingdom for him. That is why he was pursuing him
from one wilderness to another, from one cave to
another and from one place to another aiming to
kill him by all means, if he can…
The war was unequal. Saul has no objection in
killing David if he falls in his hands. And he tried
that more than once. Yet David could not kill that
enemy every time he falls in his hands. That is
because he is the anointed of the Lord, and David’s
conscience does not allow him to stretch out his
hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the
Lord (1S 24:6) (1S 26:9, 11).
Thus he said in his psalm “How long will my
enemy be exalted over me?”.
It is a psalm that starts with worrying and
sadness and ends with joy and praising.
It is like other psalms by David, they start with
sadness annoyingness or fear. And during praying
the psalm he feels that the Lord is answering his
prayer and feels His work for him, so his request
turns to thanking or joy and praising.
Here he starts the psalm with the sentence
“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me?”
The Lord has never forgotten him, but because
of his troublesome he has that feeling! He feels the
Lord has forsaken him, because the labor duration
has gone long. And here he is being pursued by a
king and his army, until he became close to despair
and got scared of falling in Saul’s hands…
And if David goes back with his memory, he would
have known, out of his experience, that the Lord
did not forget him when he fought against a lion
and a bear as he was keeping the sheep. The Lord
was with him, thus he was able to kill both the lion
and the bear (!S 17:36). The Lord was with him
also and did not forget him when he went to fight the
champion Goliath and he prevailed him also with a
stone struck by his sling (1S 17:51). The Lord was with
him and did not forget him when Saul was after him
trying to kill him as he was in the family surrounding
and when Jonathan was always taking his side and
saving him from his father Saul and so did Michal as
well (1S 19:12).
We might be warred with the idea that God
has forgotten us, because we forgot God’s former
benefits for us. Or if we forgot His saying: “Can a
woman forget her nursing child?… Surely they
may forget, Yet I will not forget you.” (Is 49:15).
The Holy Bible tells us stories about the Lord never
forgetting any of his flock no matter how long it
takes. And what we have to do is to never lose hope
no matter how long it gets. The sick man at
Bethesda (Jn 5) spent 38 years in his sickness, yet
he was waiting for an angel to stir up the water in
the pool so that he steps in and be healed, and the
Lord did not forget him, though 38 years have
passed, and He healed him.
And the bent over woman whom Satan has bound
for 18 years, whom story was mentioned in the
Gospel of Luke (Lk 13:10-13). The Lord did not
forget her after all these long years, yet He laid His
hand on her and healed her and she became
straight. Her staying for 18 years in the sickness did
not ever mean that the Lord has forgotten her!.
The same also can be realized in the creation story.
As the bible says “The earth was without form, and
void; and darkness was on the face of the deep”
(Gn 1:2). And in spite of that formlessness and
darkness, God did not abandon it but it was said
that: “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face
of the waters”. Then God said, "Let there be light";
and there was light. And God divided the light from
the darkness. And God kept taking care of that
Earth until it became that beautiful Earth that we
live on and that poets praise in their poems …
Another example is our father Abraham, the father
of fathers, and his wife Sara, and how both of them
were patient so that God gives them a Seed, until
Abraham was a hundred years old and Sara was
ninety and she said: “After I have grown old, shall I
have pleasure, my lord being old also?" (Gn
18:12)… Even at that age, God did not forget about
them and He gave them what He has promised
Also David was never forgotten by God. He handed
him the kingdom finally… After tribulations grew up
the personality of this Lad who was “ruddy, with
bright eyes” (1S 16:12) about whom King Saul
asked “whose son this young man is?” (1S 17:56)…
Tribulations and trials refined him as did
experience and days. He became no more a
young man when he took over the kingdom…
David asks saying: “How long, O Lord? Will
You forget me?!” No, had the Lord forgotten
you, you would have perished a long time ago…
Same would have happened if He had hidden his
face from you.
No, he had inscribed you on His palm (Is 49:16),
and His eyes are fixed on you from the morning
watch until night… A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not
come near you (Ps 91:7).
But God allowed him some tribulations from
Saul’s side so that he benefits spiritually and be
humble from inside after her killed the bear and the
lion and had triumph over Goliath. So, through pain
and tribulation, he did not get pride in his heart. And
he used to say to the Lord: “But I am poor and
needy; Make haste to me, O God!” (Ps 70:5).
He was not tempted by the women singing “Saul
has slain his thousands, And David his ten
thousands." (1S 18:6, 7).
These tribulations that labored David, were not
only beneficial in giving him humbleness, and in
giving him toughness of men after his softness as a
lad, but it also taught him prayer, and added to his
flute and harp a spiritual depth that he benefited from
and we did too. And his psalms became an example
from which generations learnt prayers in different life
These tribulations taught him also bearing,
patience and waiting on the Lord…
Although under the tribulation pressure he was
crying: How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
The English translation of that is “forever” meaning
endlessly or all the time… Yet in another place he
says: “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He
shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”
(Ps 27:14). Meaning waiting on the Lord in trust and
strength and not in weakness, despair or collapse…
And he shows his experience in this saying: “My soul
waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the
morning” (Ps 130).
In his tribulation he says “How long shall I take
counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart
daily?!”. He tells his experiences in his tribulation
and mentions it in front of God: in all his tiring, he
had thoughts and plans in his mind about what he
should do to survive his tribulation, and they were of
no use to him at all… The pain was also laboring his
heart without changing the reasons behind his pain
and thus he was waiting on the Lord…
The Lord’s disciples were on the ship tired by the
wind and waves until they got troubled and thought
that the Lord forgot them as well… and they said to
Him, in their tribulation: “do You not care that we are
perishing?" (Mk 4:38)… It is the human weakness in
the time of labor. And no doubt the Lord cared for
them. So He arose and rebuked the wind and the sea,
and there was a great calm…
So do not say to the Lord “Why do you forget
me”!, but say: “Forgive me, O Lord, I who forget You.
I forget Your love and care for me in times when
tribulations are pressuring me.”
Therefore we should not bring tribulations
between us and God to keep His love from us. But
bring God between us and tribulations so that He
keeps their pressures from us.
He says “How long will my enemy be exalted
Truly, he who keeps looking at what his enemies
do labors the most. And he better look at God who
saves him from his enemies. And that is what Prophet
David said in the Great Psalm: “Princes persecute me
without a cause… I rejoice at Your word As one who
finds great treasure” (Ps 119). Here he did not pay
attention to princes’ persecution but rather got busy
with God’s words so he rejoiced for it contains great
Yet David leaves those enemies aside and says:
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God.
Here his situation changes completely. The phrase
“Consider me” is a reply to what he said before: “How
long will You hide Your face from me”. And the phrase
“hear me” is a reply to what he said before “How
long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?”.
It seems that prayer have changed him. After his
mind was bound in his own counsels and his heart
bound in his pain, he started looking at God and
putting his worries on him so that God takes him out
of his sorrows and listens to him.
And here he uses the phrase “O Lord my God”…
This is the same phrase that Thomas the Apostle used
when the Lord rescued him from his doubt (Jn
After that he says: “Enlighten my eyes, Lest
I sleep the sleep of death…”
And with the phrase “Enlighten my eyes” he
means his spiritual insight. As if he confesses that his
insight was not enlightened when he said “How long,
O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You
hide Your face from me?!”.
This supplication reminds us of the story of
Gehazi when he got afraid and troubled when he saw
the enemies surrounding the city. Prophet Elisha then
prayed for him saying: “Lord, I pray, open his eyes
that he may see that those who are with us are more
than those who are with them” (2K 6:16, 17).
It is faith that enlightens our eyes when they are
surrounded with a fog of despair and fear so that they
are unable to see God’s help that surrounds them in
times of trouble.
So, David says to the Lord enlighten my eyes…
Enlighten my eyes to see the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved
(Ps 16:8). Enlighten my eyes to know that I have
done wrong when I said “How long, O Lord? Will You
forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face
from me”!!... Enlighten my eyes to remember how
you took me from being behind the sheep as a
shepherd to be anointed king for your people by your
prophet Samuel (1S 16). To get out of the darkness
of sadness, fear and despair that I was in…
Enlighten my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death
Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against
him". He will never prevail on me as long as I am at
your sanctuary right hand. Yet I will glorify you
saying: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
The right hand of the Lord is exalted; The right hand
of the Lord does valiantly. I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.” (Ps 118:15-17).
Then I will never say “How long will my enemy be
exalted over me?!” but rather say: “I will praise You,
For You have answered me, And have become my
salvation” (Ps 118) “They have bowed down and
fallen; But we have risen and stand upright” (Ps
Enemies surround David but now he is not afraid
of them because he trusts in God who will not give
him as prey to their teeth (Ps 124:6). Therefore he
“Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I
am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; My
heart shall rejoice in Your salvation”… Here he
looks to his current circumstances in a practically
realistic way, seeing that: half of the truth is that
some are causing his troublesome and rejoicing for
his falling and the other half of it is that he trusted in
God’s mercy that He will save him…
He sees this salvation and rejoices …
The end of the psalm is full of joy and salvation
which is totally opposite to the way it began. The
bible was truthful when it said: “The end of a thing
is better than its beginning” (Ec 7:8).
And on the occasion of this phrase, we remember
a similar story, in its beginning and its ending, which
is the story of the righteous Joseph…
The story of the righteous Joseph started with
pain, for his brothers has envied him and conspired
against him, they cast him in a pit, then pulled him
out and sold him to Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of
silver, then he was sold in Egypt to Potiphar (Gn 37).
And in spite of the fact the Joseph was successful
and loved in the house of Potiphar, another
conspiracy was set against him and he was put into
prison (Gn 39).
And in prison, Joseph stayed many years. As if he
was saying the phrase prophet David said “How long,
O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You
hide Your face from me?...”.
But the Lord did not forget Joseph and He
prepared two dreams to Egypt’s Pharaoh that Joseph
interpreted. And he became: “A father to Pharaoh,
and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all
the land of Egypt.” (Gn 45:8). And he became the
second man in the kingdom “and without his consent
no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of
Egypt.” (Gn 41:44). And his brothers came and
bowed down before him.
And the end of his story became better than its
beginning. As if he says to the Lord as David said “My
heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the
Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me”.
This psalm in also said in spiritual
tribulations; while the believer feels that the
Lord has forsaken him in his spiritual life and
the enemy had triumph over me.
When thoughts and ugly lusts have triumph over
him, and he falls and do not know how to rise and
“the evil he wills not to do, that he practices” and
“sees another law in his members, warring against
the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to
the law of sin which is in his members” (Ro 7:19, 23).
Then, he cries to God and says: “How long, O Lord?
Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide
Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in
my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long
will my enemy be exalted over me?...“
When he sees his adversary the devil walks about
like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1P
5:8)… At that time he says: “Consider and hear me, O
Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the
sleep of death; Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed
The psalm gives us joy in hoping in God no
matter how bad things get.
And no matter how weak our spiritual life starts,
and how sad and desperate, God will work for our
salvation, if we trusted in Him. And if we said to Him:
“Consider and hear me…”. At that time, grace will
work on us and we will respond to its work. And we
will sing to the name of the Lord who is our
benefactor and chant to the name of the Lord Most
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