# 29 Psalms of Lament (# 6) – Psalm 13 (# 3)

“It’s interesting, in the light of Crabb’s comments (quoted in the previous post), that the psalmist here in Psalm 13 doesn’t actually say if and how the Lord answered his lament. There is no statement of the Lord’s deliverance from his troubling thoughts, or from the sorrow in his heart, or even from his enemies. Maybe the Lord did, but we are not told. But what we do know is that the psalmist did come to a place of trust and rest in God, even maybe in the midst of the troubles and the blackness of his situation.

Listen to his words:

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

It seems at first to be an unlikely quick turnaround from what he had to say in the previous verses. From “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” to “I trust in your unfailing love …I will sing the Lord’s praise…”

But something has obviously changed.

Maybe it is as Longman suggests when he says that “The psalms compress time in such a way that what was a long process appears as a sudden insight.” (see references # 1)

Possibly, the psalmist is looking back at that difficult time and remembering his feelings and how he cried out in desperation to God. Then he recognises how God had met him since that time and his lament turns into songs of joy.

But what did God do? Or did God do anything at all other than reveal to the psalmist that no matter what his situation in life, He is good, that he is the God of unfailing love and that he can be trusted , despite how bleak the situation appeared. Maybe the psalmist deliverance came in the form of a new passionate, all consuming, Spirit-directed “fascination with Christ” that caused all his problems to come into perspective.

And so, the psalmist here turns his thoughts away from his troubles back to his God. The only real source of his deliverance and comfort in the time of his distress. Something we desperately need to learn as well.

Broyles comments that “apparent from the confessions of trust and the vows of praise, is that the ultimate goal of the prayer psalm is the praise of God.” (see references # 4)

God is worthy of our praise and he can be trusted, even in the most extreme circumstances. Do you believe that?

But you may ask, how? How can I trust God, you don’t know how tough my life is!

How can we have faith in God when all around us seems dark and hopeless?

Simple, says the psalmist, because of his “unfailing love”. Other translations have “loving-kindness,” “mercy,” “steadfast love,” and sometimes “loyalty.” In fact this word is used 125 times in the psalms! For example in Psalm 33 it says,

“The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love…the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love…May your unfailing love rest upon us , O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” (33:5, 18, 22)

The nearest New Testament equivalent to this Hebrew word, chesed  is the Greek word charis (grace).

And in the NT word we see this amazing grace and “unfailing love” expressed in the coming of Jesus, as John puts it, “who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (1:14) The One who came to reconcile people to God through his death and resurrection.

And so through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection we know that whatever our sense of abandonment or rejection or despair, God is faithful. And Jesus has been there. He knows what it means to suffer, to feel ‘abandoned’ by his Father (Psalm 22:1). He understands like no one else does! And he invites us to come to him. He says, “Are you tired? Worn out?…Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life…” (Matt 11:28 Message)

And so with the psalmist, in the midst of life’s problems we are able to say with an even greater depth of understanding than he could when he wrote it,

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

Or to paraphrase it in the light of the NT,

[No matter what comes our way] our Father, we will trust in your unfailing love and your grace as displayed in the coming of Jesus, our hearts rejoice in the salvation that is found in your Son, our Saviour. Therefore we will sing Your praises, for you have been incredibly good to us.

So, whatever your situation is today, the psalms are God’s gift to you. Read the psalms in the light of the NT, pray the psalms, tell God your story openly and honestly, knowing that he hears you. Renew your trust in God, no matter what the situation you find yourself in, live in the light of his mercy, his grace, his loving-kindness, his unfailing love, recognising that he has been good to you. And may God give us something far better than relief from our pain. May he give us a glimpse of Christ.”

As mentioned, all the above (and previous posts 25-29) were part of a time of “worshipful lament” at the college where I am on staff. I concluded the time with a time of reflection  – the participants where challenged to consider things in their lives that were causing or had caused them or others grief. Or think about recent events in the world we live in – at that time it was the tragedy of the Syrian civil war, the tragedy in South Korea when hundreds of school children had been drowned, the injustice in Nigeria where over 100 girls were kidnapped from a school, and the list goes on. I suggested that they then express lament personally or communally through the psalms, through their own written words or images or verbal prayers using butcher’s paper, praying together or praying alone. Which we all then did.

Let me finish this then with a further quote from Paul Bradbury’s book on “How to Lament in a Church of Praise”:

He says, “All too often, those who lead intercession slip into a language that is felt to be appropriate – polite, inoffensive and dispassionate.” He then quotes D Runcorn, who “relates the story of a man praying in the aftermath of 9/11. His cry of ‘Lord, I just don’t know what you’re playing at. What are you doing?’ subverted the atmosphere of the meeting. Runcorn comments, ‘He had not yet learned how Christians usually pray about such things. I hope he never does.’”(Choice, Desire and the Will of God SPCK 2003)

Bradbury continues, “In this sense many of us need to unlearn languages of prayer that have for too long been steeped in politeness, politeness that traces our theology back to a God who must be treated like a benefactor rather than a Father. The testimony of the psalms, and indeed many of the great prayers of the Bible, is that God is one who invites us to speak plainly…The language of prayer is then our true voice, the truest words that we can use to speak of that which we wish to bring to God…the psalms of lament offer us a language that we can borrow and appropriate. They give us the confidence and the authority to speak as the psalmist speaks.”

He suggests that, “different psalms of lament can be used to provide a framework for intercession on particular issues – Psalm 13 to pray around issues of individual pain and suffering, Psalm 64 to pray for communities threatened by terrorism or war, Psalm 74 for the persecuted church, Psalm 80 to pray for the church throughout the world.” (see reference # 21)

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