November 10, 2013

by John Ulrich, Senior Pastor

Lament Psalms


The Lament Psalms all teach us how to pray when we are in trouble. To “lament” is to taste the tears of God on many issues, e.g.: sickness (Psalm 6), sin (Psalm 51), loss of moral compass (Psalm 11), safety (Psalm 16) or fear (Psalm 64).  The Lament Psalms include 14 of the first 28 Psalms, and 65 of all the 150 total Psalms.

Three clear steps presented in all the Lament Psalms :

  • Example of Psalm 64

1.  Complaint

In a complaint, we tell God what is happening and what we need. In Psalm 64:1, King David knew that he was in danger (“protect my life from the threat of the enemy”) and who was creating the danger (“the wicked” and “the noisy crowd of evildoers”).  Following David’s example, we too are to bring our complaints to God (“Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint…” Psalm 64:1).

In our complaint to God, Psalm 64 shows us that we are to:

  • Be honest with God at the level of our feelings (our gut), not just words. To do this, we must be willing to own our problem if we are guilty, or claim innocence if we are not (as did Job in the Old Testament). We must be willing to share even our confusion and anger.
  • Bring God into our situation of suffering. We need to admit God’s sovereignty in the midst of trouble, even if it means wrestling with the role of God in our suffering.  Sometimes following God makes it harder on us. (See Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place.)  There is no easy answer. If we just bring our suffering to God, we just might find that it raises our faith.

2.  Character of God

As seen in David’s prayer in Psalm 64, it is a difficult shift to move our eyes from our problems (Psalm 64:1-6) to the Lord Himself, as David did in Psalm 64:7-10 where He meditated on God’s attributes and character.

David looked at God’s righteous judgment and wisdom, as God did to the wicked what they had intended to do to David (Psalm 63:3-8).  God even used their evil to accomplish good and provide healing (Psalm 64:9).

Indeed this shift from us and our problems to God and His character is where the healing begins! This turning from ourselves to God is more than just thinking with our minds. It is a surrender of our will to God.  We are not alone in even this surrender; our Heavenly Father Himself, through His Spirit, waits to come to our aid to help us to accept His help. Sometimes His Spirit works through human assistance (e.g., a Stephen Minister) to help us turn our eyes from circumstances to God.

3.  Celebration

“Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him; let all the upright in heart praise Him” (Psalm 64:10).

God, our Father, sees a much larger perspective beyond the circumstances of life. Though David lamented the darkness (Psalm 60), the Lord also gave victory to David wherever he went in 2 Samuel 8.  God can give us victory also wherever we go, even in the midst of troubles.  Suffering is not the whole truth in this world.  It is not all about us.  When we surrender to God, He can transform our minds into understanding His higher purposes and Truth.