An Exegesis of Psalm 13 -- By: Stephen L. Dolson-Andrew

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 10:1 (Spring 2004)
Article: An Exegesis of Psalm 13
Author: Stephen L. Dolson-Andrew

An Exegesis of Psalm 13

Stephen L. Dolson-Andrew

Stephen L. Dolson-Andrew earned an M.A. at George Washington University; M.A. at Claremont Graduate University; M.A. at Fuller Theological Seminary, and presently is in the Ph.D. program in Systematic Theology at Fuller. He has written a previous article for the CTS Journal and spoken at the CTS Teaching Pastors Conference. One may contact Steve at [email protected].


Psalm 13 is the shortest of the prayers for salvation1 in the Psalter, but its terse concision makes it one of the more emotionally effective. Mays agrees with Gunkel’s famous assessment of Psalm 13 as “a parade example” of its type (i.e., “individual lament”), and writes that the psalm “comprehends [the] essential elements [of individual laments] so completely that to know it is to have an introduction to the others.”2 In the following exposition, we shall see that the psalm generally stays true to its form, but nonetheless expounds its own unique message.

We shall follow standard exegetical procedure in this essay. First we shall present our own translation of the passage. This is followed by a discussion of textual issues that pertain to this psalm. Third we shall comment on form, setting, and authorship. Next, a detailed structural outline of the psalm will be suggested, in keeping with the insights of form criticism. We shall then comment on the text verse by verse and conclude with some theological observations, including the purpose, tone, spiritual meaning, and value of the psalm.

Translation of Psalm 133

  1. From him who excels musically. A psalm of David.
  2. (1) How long, O LORD, will you continually forget me?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
  3. (2) How long must I hold wise counsel in my soul
    while having sorrow in my heart daily?
    How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
  4. (3) Consider and answer me, O LORD my God!
    Illuminate my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
  1. (4) Lest my enemy say, “I have overcome him!”
    Lest my adversaries rejoice when I have fallen.
  2. (5) But I trust in your covenant-love;
    My heart will rejoice in your salvation;
    (6) I will sing to the LORD,
    Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Text-Critical Issues

Some commentators have been unwilling to accept counsels (עצו...

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