Psalm 13 opens with the line, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (NIV11) However, Nancy Declaissé-Walford et al. suggest an alternative. “How long, O LORD, will you constantly forget me?!” The idea carried by the word forever is not a final disposition; it is a feeling of ongoing rejection.
And this for me, is the real crux of the poem. It’s not just that the writer has been forgotten; forever. It’s that they feel continually forgotten. Over and over again. And that’s much worse, isn’t it?
We all have this tendency to universalize the particular moment we are in. I am forgotten right now, so I will always be overlooked. I am sad right now, so I will always be unhappy. I have been mistreated here in this moment so I will always be poorly treated. And actually, it works both ways. I am successful right now, so I will always be successful is a trap we often fall into as well. But that’s not how life works. We have seasons and rhythms and ups and downs and remembering that is really important.
That remembering doesn’t necessarily make things more comfortable right now, but it does help us to keep our story in proper perspective, which is exactly what this poem is ultimately about. By the end of it, the author swings around, saying, “But I—in your loving-kindness have I trusted, and my heart rejoices in your deliverance! I will sing to the Lord for God has done well for me.”
Chances are this author hasn’t actually been delivered. Not in the space since the poem started anyway. And so the movement here is in the author’s heart. A resetting of perspective that allows her to see her present moment in new ways.
We all need that time and space to decompress and reset our perspective. For me today, that’s some time on the water. For you, maybe it’s a moment to journal or reflect. But hopefully, you get a bit of space to remember that today isn’t all there will ever be.