The context for this psalm is that David is anticipating the LORD’s rebuke. He asks the LORD not to “rebuke him in His anger nor to discipline him in His wrath (6:1),” but we do not know why David would expect the LORD’s wrath. There must be some unspoken sin causing David’s unease and the LORD’s anger. David is “languishing” and “his bones are troubled (6:2).” Indeed, his “soul is also greatly troubled (6:3a).” From the depths of David’s anguish, his heart lifts a poignant cry: “How long?”
Can all of us not identify with this cry of the heart? In this fallen, broken world, is there anyone who has not at some point asked, “How long?”
How long must I endure this loneliness?
How long will this pain last?
How long will this period of unemployment last?
How long must I put up with an unfair supervisor?
More dramatically, “How long will this hurricane continue to blow?”
How long will this beating go on?
How long will this conflict go on?
How long . . . ?
The answer is as clear as it is unsatisfying: This will continue as long as the Lord has eternally decreed, so that all of His intended purposes may come to full fruition.
In His wise providence, the Lord brings us into seasons of testing and trial to accomplish His purposes for our lives and for the universe He sovereignly rules. We will never know all of His purposes in a given trial. In fact, we often feel that we know none of His purposes in a trial, but this we do know: the One who has ordained this trial is also the One who loves me (Romans 5:8), who acts on my behalf (Isaiah 64:4), who strongly supports me (2 Chronicles 16:9) and who is always for me (Romans 8:31). Since the Lord has declared all these promises to us in His word, then we can persevere and trust Him to the end.
SDG rmb 3/5/2020