Day 158: Psalms 25-30; Lament and Praise

Of all the types of Psalms in this book, the two that are most common and recognized the best are the Psalms of lament and the Psalms of praise.  We talked about the Psalms of lament on June 4 when we talked through Psalm 13 and the model for lament that it so clearly shows.  Today we encounter more of the lamenting Psalms, all of which addresses different times of David‘s life in which he was struggling with something.  Each one ends in a very similar fashion, a statement of trust to the Lord.

I still think that this is an amazing way to end Psalms like this.  When the chips are down and David is facing the harsh reality of life, He isn’t at all afraid to cry out to God.  Yet even in that he holds tightly to his faith.  As I read these cries again and again, seeing them set next to some of the great Psalms of praise that David writes, I find myself wondering at how he can say these sharply contrasting statements and how they would even be placed next to each other in this book.

Even in my wondering though, the answer is so clear:  TRUTH.  There is so much truth in these Psalms and the fact that they sit together, side by side, only multiplies that truth.  David cries out to God and places his trust in Him because of the things that he proclaims about God in these Psalms of praise.  At the same time, David is able to praise God and lift up his voice in worship because of the steadfast faithfulness of God in the many times of trouble that David has encounters.  It is so much like our own lives and I think that is why it touches us so deeply.  We mourn in times of sadness because of the loss of the good times… and we celebrate in good times partially because they are so much better than the bad.  The circle is unending and both the highs and the lows play of each other.  In many ways this reminds me of Job when he says in chapter 1, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Today’s set of Psalms shows such a contrast.  Read Psalm 25-28 again.  These are all Psalms of lament dealing with various situations.  Now contrast that with a reading of Psalm 29, a beautiful Psalm of praise to God.  Are there not similar words and phrases in these Psalms?  Does David not talk about the greatness of God in all 4 of them?  We praise God because of who He is and what He has done.  He has brought us up from the pit; He has washed us clean in the blood of Jesus.  1 Peter 2 says, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  We know from where it was that we have come, ushered into the light by the work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.  We rejoice because we have been raised up by the power of God… and when times are tough we lament and yet still place our trust fully and completely in God alone for we know He is able to bring us through all things.

PSALM 25 is a Psalm of Lament that is written by David.  Clearly, there is a didactic quality to it as we can see in the title given to it in the ESV.  David’s prayer here is also penitential and imprecatory.  Yet it ends as it begins, with a prayer of hope and and commitment to trust in the Lord.  Interestingly, in the Hebrew, this Psalm is also an acrostic, with each letter of the next line starting with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  For more on this you can check on “Dom Donald’s Blog.”

PSALM 26 is a very basic Psalm of Lament that also is written by David.  As he writes, David petitions the Lord for vindication from the trouble he is facing and also commits to continuing to walk in the ways of the Lord.

PSALM 27 is also a Psalm of Lament.  However, in this psalm David starts off with a statement of faith that then colors the whole of the Psalm.  Though all the things that he lists are going on, David commits very clearly to trusting the Lord and following after Him.

PSALM 28 is our final Psalm of Lament for the Day, once again showing David’s trust in the Lord.  In this Psalm we also find some imprecatory statements about David’s enemies and those that are wicked and do evil.  In spite of what ever it is that is going on in David’s life, he has clearly turned to God for his support.

PSALM 29 is the Psalm of Praise that contrasts these four Psalms of Lament.  If you listen carefully, you can hear some of the same phrases and ideas that David speaks about in his laments in this Psalm of praise!  It is a real testament the steadfastness of God.  The God of our times of praise is also our God through our times of distress, and we give thanks for His faithfulness through both of those times!

PSALM 30 is a Psalm of thanksgiving and praise written for the dedication of the Temple.  Like most of these types of Psalms, this one is also very didactic in nature, talking about all of great things that God has done and how He has brought them to this point!