1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 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?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
This psalm opens with a resounding slam. Both questions bring up great promises and imagery from the Old Testament Scriptures. God in His deliverance always “remembers” or “knows” His people (Gen 8:1; 19:29; Exo 2:24-25). The psalmist is openly wondering if his deliverance will ever come. And this lack of deliverance, restoration of blessing and favor, is the hiding of God’s face. Previously the psalmist has argued for a righteousness that beholds God’s face (Psa 11:7). The consequence of this being “forgotten” by God is a sweeping loneliness and exaltation of enemies.
Instead of the word “consider,” I prefer the literal “look.” The psalmist is calling for God’s attention but the affect is on the psalmist himself. It is he who needs his eyes “enlightened” (see Paul’s version - Eph 1:18-19). Later Asaph will describe in how the “sanctuary of God” brings understanding in times of persecution (Psa 73:16-17; compare with Heb 10:25).
The conclusion of the psalm is a staple for understanding Jewish “salvation.” It is the destruction of enemies (v. 4), God’s dealing favorably, literally “to deal fully” or “repay”, (v. 6) and provision of steadfast love (v. 5). This is an important concept to grasp and one reads the New Testament epistles and their use of “salvation” in the context of persecution (particularly Revelation, 1-2 Peter, 1-2 Thessalonians and Hebrews).