Blogging the Bible 124 – Psalms 13-16 – Lament and Faith

Psalms 13 & 14 continue the theme of lament, of frustration that God is not acting to establish justice on earth.

Psalm 15 moves to a reflection on the characteristics of the one who will be able to rely on the justice of the LORD and rest in his presence – one who is honest in word, deed and business, who will not spread gossip, who will keep a word given and lend freely to those in need. It’s a practical set of marks of a faithful life, and not a bad guide.

Psalm 16 then strikes a note of confidence rooted in devotion to the LORD. It is through closeness to God that the psalmist finds this security, rather than in any strength of his own.

The reflection on these psalms in the Bible I’m following for this series interested me. Eugene Peterson comments that lament is a strong theme in the Psalms (he says in 70% of them) but not in our culture, even in the reporting of and response to human tragedy on grand scales. He says,
There is no lament because truth is not taken seriously, love is not taken seriously. Human life does not matter as life, God-given, Christ-redeemed, Spirit-blessed life. It counts only as ‘news’. There is no dignity to any of it. It is trivialised.

It may be that something of our lack of lament comes from our loss of a shared sense of God to whom we can protest; but in its effect I think Peterson has a point, and it’s a point that comes from engaging with the psalms as a whole, rather than a selected few that we know and love.

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