Psalms of Lament - Psalm 77
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.” (Psalm 77:1, ESV)
I have been reading scholars to help me understand the whole of the Psalms. I have several resources I’m using as we journey through the Psalms and one of them is this new book by W. David O. Taylor. He gives a great overview of the Psalms of lament that Pastor Luke spoke about last week:
"The psalms of lament are full of imperatives: forgive (Ps. 79:9), heal (Ps. 6:2), vindicate (Ps.
43:1), deliver (Ps. 31:15), sustain (Ps. 119:116–117). The most frequent imperative is "remember" (Ps. 74).
These psalms invite the faithful to speak out loud what needs to be confessed in the assembly of God’s people: Remember me! Remember us! Remember your promises!
Whether God responds or not in the moment or much later or beyond the life of the psalmist is another matter. Whenever the psalmist voices his complaint, it is the sign of an active, not a passive, faith.
In Walter Brueggemann’s words, ‘Such prayer is intense, dangerous, and urgent. It moves deeply beneath our usual innocuous prayer in which nothing is at stake, because in this kind of prayer, everything is at stake.’”
-W David O Taylor
I don’t know what your week has been like but it’s been heavy for me. Heavy on my heart is the death of George Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis, killed by a policeman who had a knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. It’s a brutal video to watch as all four officers fail to help a helpless man crying out for his life. My heart aches. My friend who is active with the LAPD can’t understand why this officer would do this and why the other three didn’t stop him. The country is grieving and the President is having the FBI investigate. Was not the coronavirus enough? The economic devastation that has followed? The divisions amongst church leaders who are opening early and those opening late? How long, oh Lord, will we be weighted by such bad news? Is it okay for me to pray like this?
Then I remember that it’s okay to lament. In fact, it’s biblical. So today I’m simply being biblical with a lament that I long for a better world, the kind of world that I know Jesus will usher in when he renews the heavens and earth. Until then, I hope to be faithful to have my heart break for the things that break God’s heart. I want to lead our church on a path that focuses on God’s glory and continually offers up our shortcomings in repentance. The Psalms will lead us in this journey as we continue to praise and lament. Perhaps you will join me on this journey. God can handle our honesty and we may find ourselves actually drawing closer to Him in our lament.
Living Out God’s Word
What is heavy on your heart in this season? Try praying a prayer of lament and trusting that God can handle your prayer. If the Lord prompts you to take some kind of action, write it down in your calendar and follow through this week.
Lord, remember Your people in this season of waiting. We see wrongs that need to be righted. We see hurt that we want to be healed. We see in ourselves so many good intentions but far too often we don’t follow through in obedience. Forgive us and renew us. Make us into the people You desire. Start with me. Amen.