Psalms of Lament


Thursday June 22, 2017

Psalm 13
How long will you forget me, LORD?
Forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long will I be left to my own wits,
Agony filling my heart?  Daily?
How long will my enemy keep defeating me?
Look at me!
Answer me, LORD my God!
Restore sight to my eyes!
Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I won!”
My foes will rejoice over my downfall.
But I have trusted in your faithful love.
My heart will rejoice in your salvation.
Yes, I will sing to the LORD
Because he has been good to me.

In the songs of lament there is not a quick fix offered, but the psalmist gives us room to name the pain of what we experience in life.  Psalm 13 is general enough that it speaks to a variety of moments of lament within our life.  The beauty of it is found in its raw honesty with God.  The writer doesn’t remain stuck there is still forward motion, but that motion isn’t one where an answer is revealed on how to get out of the pit.

Even though the psalmist feels forgotten, and finds himself in a place of disorientation, he is confident that God is present in the midst of his suffering.  What we don’t know is if this psalm was written from the bottom of the pit, when there was no other place to go but up, or after he already felt the presence of God and was in a place of praise.  The important point is that we don’t need to know, it can be both and.  It doesn’t have to be either or.

The psalm reflects the journey of someone in lament, beginning with suffering that then moves to a request, “answer me and restore sight to my eyes.”  Then the psalmist changes tense and acknowledges that there will be a time when rejoicing will happen again.  The dark night will not be forever. This offers to us a template for reflection on our own movement in and out of suffering. 


Prayer:  God of desert places, we remember the moments that Christ suffered and know that we are not alone in our suffering.  Help us to be mindful of those in our world who have found themselves in a place of abandonment.  In your Holy name we pray, Amen.

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