Today we are breaking down the components of a classic lament.
Most scholars identify four, sometimes five elements of a lament.
Let's look to Psalm 13 for our example.
It opens with a complaint that is applicable to the Corona season:
How long, Oh Lord!
Enduring pain and suffering is classic cry of God's people.
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
In these two verses we see the first two elements of a lament.
First, He addresses God. Some laments go further and list several of God's characteristics.
To whom do you turn when you complain?
Since the mid-2000's we've let our fingers doing the wailing.
Many of us moan by way of post to anyone who will read and hit the like button (or smoldering angry face or sad face).
God wants us to turn to Him. He welcomes our complaint. He can actually do something about it!
The second element is the complaint itself. We bring our complaint to God.
David feels forgotten. He feels God has hidden His face. He feels abandoned and alone.
Moreover, he complains that his enemies are gloating over Him.
A lament starts by addressing God and clearly articulating the complaint.
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
The third element of a lament is to boldly ask God for help.
Why turn to God with our complaint? Because God can actually do something to resolve the situation!
God knows. God cares. God wants to help.
Every difficult situation is an open door to grow in our relationships with God.
More than the fact that God can fix the problem is the reality that we are never alone.
In our suffering we are comforted by God's presence.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
The lament concludes with the fourth element: an expression of hope and trust in God.
This trust is expressed even if we don't feel it.
The distance between verse one and six is not far. David's trust is growing.
David is telling his soul what is true even if it is not felt quite yet.
We need to do the same. Facts are always true. Our feelings need to catch up to what is real.
I said some speak of a fifth element of lament.
The final stage is an expression of gratitude. A simple thank you.
Certainly verse six expresses a grateful tone.
There you have it. Pretty straight forward.
You will see this formula expressed repeatedly in the Lament Psalms.
Here's some homework for you.
Take the elements of this structure and look at some of the Lament Psalms we listed in the previous post.
Study for yourself to see the predictable flow of a classic lament.
We will wrap up laments tomorrow.
Today is Friday, We're off to do some "Filming in Frankfort" as we prepare for Sunday!