How can God help me when I feel like a failure?

David of the Old Testament felt the heavy burden of failure when his son Absalom turned against him and took the kingdom. Can you imagine a son hating his father so much that if David did not flee he would have been killed? Can you imagine a father knowing that his son would want him dead? This failure was something that King David brought upon himself. When David committed the sin of taking Bathsheba as his wife by having her husband killed, God told David that,“ the sword would never leave your house”. The situation David finds himself in is his own fault. King David writes down his thoughts in Psalm 13.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Verse 1

Have you noticed that when we are in difficult times, hard times, when our hearts are filled with sorrow, that God seems very far away. He’s not, obviously, but it feels that way. David is feeling that God has left him, forgotten him.

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death. Verse 2-3

Years earlier David and his son had a falling out and David banished Absalom from the kingdom. At some point Absalom returned only to have his father shun him. Are these the thoughts that he wrestles with? Does the sorrow from his heart come from the failure as a father and as a king? Will he ever get his kingdom back or will his enemies continue to be victorious. David is so discouraged, his confidence shattered that he wants “sleep in death”, or to fall asleep and never wake up.

My enemy will say, “I have overcome him”, and my foes will rejoice when I fall. Verse 4

It’s bad enough when David’s enemies run him out of the palace and he has to survive by hiding out in caves. But when they rejoice, it makes a bad situation worse. David is humiliated and he is full of shame and disgrace. His defeat is only amplified by the way his foes are lording it over him.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. Verse 5-6

After all the hard times, all the sorrow, David decides to put his trust in God’s unfailing love. The joy of his salvation is greater than his hardships. When David changes his focus from his situation to God then he is able to sing. David is still on the run, sorrow still fills his heart, but God’s love will pull him through.