A lament is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow, often in the form of poetry or song. In the biblical context, the Psalms of Laments are described as distressed complaints to God. They are the most common type of psalm. The Psalms of Laments are divided by individual or communal use and then by function. The psalms use general language to describe the condition of the speaker which allows them to be reused in different situations. At the end of some of the Psalms of Lament, there is a drastic shift in their language and tone. The complaint turns into praise and thanks to God. This shift indicates a call and response structure. The concluding praise would be sung after a prayer was answered or after a moment in worship.
1. Often our complaints come from a place of fear. What do you fear today? Watch for ways that God is shielding you from that which you fear.
2. In spite of feeling forgotten by or angry at God, the lament psalmists reach out to God. Try expressing your alienation, grief, or anger to God. Listen for God’s response.
3. Pay attention to what the psalmists are asking of God. In times of discomfort, what is it that you truly want? Express this desire to God.
4. Sometimes the psalmists speak directly to God, and sometimes they just talk about God. What helps you express grief and frustration? Verbalizing your complaint? Writing in a journal? Talking to others?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.