An Advent Meditation Occasioned By Psalm 13
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Most of the psalms up to and including Psalm 13 have been laments. The psalmist is often in trouble, though we are rarely told exactly what the trouble is. Instead, the psalmist spends most of his words expressing his desire for the Lord’s presence. More than anything else, the psalms are about asking the Lord to come and help. We should take this to heart as we consider our own walk in the Faith, especially during this time of the year.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas. The word “advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” The Advent season precedes Christmas because Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s first advent, His Incarnation.
In those days, God’s people were patiently awaiting the arrival of His Messiah. Luke tells us of Simeon, a servant of God: “this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2.25). The proof that Simeon was righteous and devout was that he was waiting for the consolation of Israel, the arrival of God’s Messiah. He celebrated God’s consolation when he took up the infant Jesus and said, “My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2.30-32).
During Advent, we remember the patient waiting of our brothers and sisters in the Faith before Christ’s birth, and we imitate their patience as we await the Lord’s second advent.
Think of how eagerly and patiently we await Christmas itself. After Thanksgiving, we begin counting down the days until we get to visit our loved ones, enjoy the feast, and open presents. We do things to build that anticipation: setting up the tree, hanging lights, wrapping presents, baking goodies, listening to music.
Should we be any less diligent and active in cultivating our anticipation of our Lord’s second coming? Remember the examples of our forebears in the Faith. They waited for the Messiah in constant prayer, study of the Scriptures, and worship at the temple. We should imitate them as we await the second coming of the Messiah.
Spend some time between now and Christmas reading from the many passages which predict and describe our Lord’s next advent. We find the promise in its most basic form in Acts 1.11: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Many passages speak of His coming in judgment (Matt 25.31-46; Luke 12.35-48; 2 Thess 1.5-12; 2 Pet 3.10; Rev 22.12-13). But our Lord’s coming is more than judgment! It is a new creation (2 Pet 3.13; Rev 21.5). It is the coming dawn after this long night of sin (2 Pet 1.19). It is the resurrection of the dead (1 Thess 4.13-18). It is Christ’s marriage to the Church (Rev 19.6-9; 21.9-10)! Indeed, read these Scriptures now and throughout the year, and take heart.
Sing hymns that announce the Lord’s coming. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Christ Returneth,” “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns,” “Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending,” and “We Shall Stand Before the Throne” are all excellent.
In your prayers, strive to imitate the longing of the psalmist as he expresses it in Psalm 13. For the faithful, the coming judgment of our Lord is not an occasion for fear but for joy. It should seem more desirable to us than anything else, and we should pray for it earnestly.
Do not think that God has forgotten you forever. Jesus of Nazareth, His only Son, has purchased for you the rewards of eternal life through His own life, death, and resurrection. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Trust in His steadfast love.