Psalm Thirteen: Lighten My Eyes, Lest I Sleep in Death!
Through all the course of his life, David was very often opposed by many enemies who were stronger than he: whether it was King Saul, who without a cause so many times sought his life; or Achish, the king of the Philistines, before whom he was forced to feign madness; or those raiders who stole away his wives and goods in Ziklag; or even his own son Absalom, who raised up a mighty host against him, and drove him out of Jerusalem; by all these enemies and more, he was constantly opposed, afflicted, and oppressed â€“ and yet, in the face of such enmity, he constantly evinced a calm and steady assurance of God's favor and salvation, because of which he could laugh at all his foes, and sleep in peace even when they were surrounding him on every side.
Ah, but far different was the matter when this much more troubling experience came upon him and dried up all his hope and joy, that he lacked a sense of the presence of the God who saved him from all his enemies, and wondered how long he would hide his face (vs. 1)! Then, his enemy whom he had laughed at was lifted up over him, and rejoiced in his victory, and boasted that he had prevailed (vs. 2, 4); and David, who before had shown such calm assurance in many battles, only found sorrow in the counsels of his heart, and cried out for God to lighten his eyes with the light of life, lest he sleep forevermore in death (vs. 3).
But in this, too, is he not all the better a type of the blessed Messiah? How bold and unwavering was the Christ before all his enemies, even when they surrounded him, and put him to shame without a cause, and struck and spat upon him, and uttered all manner of evil and blasphemous things against him falsely! In all of this, he spoke the truth without wavering, and trembled not a whit before the multitude of his accusers. But then (unspeakable sorrow!), he was driven to his knees to wrestle with the God of his salvation, his own Father whom he had known and loved for all eternity, yes, to wrestle and groan and sweat great drops of blood at the thought that this God whom he had always pleased should forsake him â€“ no, but that he should even pour out his wrath upon him, and make him drink down the bitter cup of divine punishment! And in this great despair, he was sorrowful even unto death. What else could he cry out then but the same thing David pled, even this, â€œLighten my eyes, lest I sleep in death!â€.
And wonder beyond all wonders, he did indeed go down to sleep in death itself, when God, for but a moment, abandoned him. What heart shall not melt at the thought, what eye shall remain dry? The Lord of life, the eternal God, the great I AM asleep in death? Then indeed did his enemies rejoice and boast against him.
But here is the truth upon which all Christianity is built: God did not forget him, but for his great piety and spotless righteousness heard his prayer! He lightened his eyes with the unfading and eternal light of a new, resurrection life! He put all his enemies, yes, even that last enemy, Death, under his feet! He raised him up, and made him sing with David, â€œBut I have trusted in your steadfast love, my heart will rejoice in your salvation; I will sing to Yahweh, because he has dealt bountifully with me! (vs. 5-6)â€. So he sang, dear Christian, as the head and representative of his people, thus assuring all who are in him of the same salvation, and indeed winning it for them forevermore.
So why will you fear, feeble saint, no matter what may trouble you? Is it your enemies? But they are defeated! Is it your sin? But it is atoned for, its power is broken, and soon it will be utterly done away! Is it (worst of all!) the feeling that God has hidden his face from you? But so he hid it even from your Savior, for a moment; and then he lightened his eyes with eternal life, which will never again close in the sleep of death â€“ and if he has done so for your Surety, will he not also do so for you?