Archive for February 2nd, 2020

Psalms of Lament

February 2, 2020

From Psalms of Lament:

  • This is the largest single category
  • The parts of a lament (not every psalm may have every part and the order may vary)

Example—Psalm 142

1. Address and introductory cry

With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.
When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!

2. The Lament (the real problem)

In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.

3. Confession of trust

I cry to you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”

4. Prayer—what the psalmist wants God to do about it

Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!

(4a. optional) Reasons given to God for answering the prayer

Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name!

5. Vow or shout of praise

The righteous will surround me,

(5a. optional) Prophetic statement

for you will deal bountifully with me.


  1. Find a Lament psalm and print it out, divided into parts
  2. List what parallelisms you find in it.

Try now with some other psalms: 3, 6, 13, 28, 56

From: Laments vs Cursing

  • So here are three principles to remember concerning lamenting.
      • Laments aren’t always legitimate. Encourage people to lament, but remind them that while what they say may be an accurate description of their thinking and feeling, what they say about God isn’t necessarily true.
      • Make sure people have good theology. There’s a direct correlation between the benefits of one’s lamenting and his view of God. Lamenting is an intense conversation with God. But if a person holds deficient views about who God is, those conversations aren’t going to be helpful. We need to make sure people have a solid understanding of who God is.
      • Encourage people to complain, not curse. This comes from Dr. Bob Kellemen, author of God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. For Dr. Kellemen, biblical complaint is synonymous with lament. Cursing is its evil twin. I’ve summarized the the distinctions he makes between the two:
    Complaining Cursing
    We’re being honest with God We’re talking about God
    We’re talking to God We’re talking behind God’s back
    We’re drawn to God We separate from God

    It’s likely that when people lament, there will be times when they say things that fall into the category of cursing. So what should they do when that happens? Dr. Kellemen has three thoughts:

      • The distinction between complaining and cursing isn’t always clear. He says, “Our lives and our souls are complex, so it’s hard to draw the line between one or the other.”
      • If someone thinks they’ve cursed God, “they do with that what they do with any other sin. They confess that as sin and they believe that God is faithful and just to forgive them for their sin.”
      • Complain in the context of community. “We need times of grieving alone, but [we need] other people to say, ‘[Are you] crossing the line here?’ It’s very important that we have a sounding board of people that love us and care about us. And it’s very important that those people are real and raw too, so that they don’t heap false guilt on us for doing what God asked us to do.”