Read Psalm 13
Even though our stereotype of the Psalms is one of upbeat praise, a closer look reveals that “Lament Psalms” actually represent the largest category. These words, you see, speak to the realities of our human condition in a fallen world…a world filled with sorrow, pain, and injustice. Psalm 13 serves as a good example of the elements typically found in these psalms. Here we find the following general themes addressed:
- Address to God: “How long, O Lord?” (1a) Instead of flowery opening lines, David seemed more interested in getting to the heart of what he wants to say.
- Lament itself: “How long…will you forget me forever?” (1b-2) David felt as if the Lord was delaying His response. Four times, he used the words “how long?” While he wrestled with his own thoughts, with personal sorrow, and with opposition, he had the impression that the Lord had hidden his face from him. Ever felt like that? Do you feel like that today? Like your prayers ricocheted off of the ceiling of your home, car, or even off of the clouds above?
- Prayer: “Look on me and answer” (3-4) With seemingly no end in sight, David voiced his request to the Lord once again. There is no shame in repeatedly expressing your request to God. In fact, Jesus seems to applaud you for doing so (Lk. 18:1-5) provided that your prayers do not become a mindless and meaningless babbling (Matt. 6:7).
- Trust: “But I trust in your unfailing love” (5) This can be the hard part. When you have been in your situation for so long, can you really hope? When you have prayed and yet there has been no obvious answer, can you really depend on Him? You can, if you retreat to the assurances from the word of God that point out that God neither forsakes you (Heb. 13:5) nor burdens you with more than you, by His grace, can bear (2 Cor. 12:9).
- Praise: “I will sing to the Lord” (6) What a contrast from the opening lines to these final words! David began with questions of “Where are you?” But with these words he actually worships the Lord. That is often characteristic of these psalms of lament. They start in sorrow and end in exaltation. Renewed with hope, the psalmists moved beyond their own circumstances to a God deserving of adoration. Can you?