A hundred and twenty seven times the Psalms mention God’s “unfailing love.” It’s not always called that in our English Bibles. Sometimes it is called God’s “great love” (Psalm 5:8), and sometimes just “love.” But however it is translated, the meaning has three components. First, it is not just feeling, but a devotion that can be seen as God acts in relationship. Second, that devotion never flags nor fails. Third, it is based on a prior relationship, specifically, God’s covenant. Ultimately, it means that because God has entered into a covenant with His people, he will never let them down nor abandon them.
The writer of Psalm 13 feels as if God has abandoned him (as will the writer of Psalm 22). But because he knows God loves him with this kind of love, he also knows that God could not have deserted him. It just feels that way. You hear his desperation in the first three verses, yet despite it, he turns to God.
Why this confidence in a God who seems to have failed?
First, the writer intellectually knows God. He knows about this love. And second, his knowledge is experiential. He is not a newcomer to this relationship. He has seen God act in his life before (verse 6).
I believe we must experience trials and feelings of estrangement from God for several reasons, but one of those reasons is so that we’ll know what it is like to feel close to God, know what it is like to feel estranged, and know what it is like to be rescued. With each passing experience, our faith grows stronger for the next trial.
That means, of course, that we have to take note of God’s deliverances, and remember them for the future.