JULY 2020 — A LAMENT
A lament is a cry out to God from our distress. Most of us do not know how to lament. In fact, we often think there is something wrong with us if are distressed- a lack of faith or too anxious. But lamenting is one of the most common themes in the Psalms. God gives us the words to cry out to Him in our distress. We looked at one last month, Psalm 88, as a model for how to respond in faith. At its core, however, a lament is a cry for help out of deep pain and distress. I watch what is happening to our country, and I need the words of Lament. I need Lament to give me the words to say to God for how distressed I am – sometimes, for how distressed I should be but am not.
Join me in lamenting through Psalm 6.
TO THE CHOIRMASTER: WITH STRINGED INSTRUMENTS; ACCORDING TO THE SHEMINITH. A PSALM OF DAVID.
1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?
4 Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?
This is a personal lament, David crying from his personal pain, but it works well for how I am feeling today. I plead with verse 1 that God will not deal with me or with our nation in anger. I look around and can list so many reasons to lament in my life and in what is going on in our nation. God has every right to rebuke me in anger. So I join David in praying for grace.
It feels like we as a nation are languishing, we are greatly troubled in our soul (and I have felt that in myself lately). What else can we do but cry out for God to save us? Not because we deserve it, but because God’s love is strong and unmoving. Because our nation cannot praise God if we are destroyed. I cannot praise God if I am destroyed.
6 I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.
Verses 6 and 7 are the heart of the lament. David is falling apart. His grief threatens to consume him. He is paralyzed beyond his ability to weep. I am not feeling the depth of his anguish, but I am weary and I am very sad. I am sad for how our country is resolving its problems. I am sad for friends and family I know who are now fighting with each other. I am weary of fighting my temptations to respond to people impatiently.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
Do I have enough faith for these final three verses? Do I declare to the evil around me – “get out, because the Lord has heard me, and He is going to act”? I do not know when or how, but everyone who stands against God will “be ashamed and greatly troubled.” Do I believe that the Lord has heard my plea that injustice and violence need to stop? Do I believe that the Lord will put to shame those who deserve it? Sometimes I have to pray what is true and ask the Holy Spirit to help me believe it in my soul.
Psalms of Lament usually end with declarations of praise and confidence that God will act. That is where my lament must end as well. I do not just complain to God. I say out loud what I might struggle to believe inside: God will bring justice, He will heal, He will protect because He heard the sound of my weeping, and He loves me.