Layout your Lament to the LORD (Psalm 10)

The Bible teaches us that we can layout our lament[1] to the LORD. We can cry out to Him for help or to honestly share our disillusionment. Lament psalms make up around a third of the book of Psalms and is the most numerous type of psalm within Psalms.[2] And so we see, “The vast majority of psalms were written out of a real-life struggle of faith.”[3]

The Bible teaches us that we can layout our lament to the LORD. We can cry out to Him for help or to honestly share our disillusionment.

Here we’re looking at Psalm 10.

Cry for Help (v. 1)

The first thing we see the psalmists does in this psalm is cry out for justice. “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

We too can take our honest wrestling to the LORD. In fact, that is what we must do. We must bring our laments to the LORD.

As Mark Vroegop says in his helpful book on lament,

Lament is how we bring our sorrow to God. Without lament we won’t know how to process pain. Silence, bitterness, and even anger can dominate our spiritual lives instead. Without lament we won’t know how to help people walking through sorrow. Instead, we’ll offer trite solutions, unhelpful comments, or impatient responses. What’s more, without this sacred song of sorrow, we’ll miss the lessons historic laments are intended to teach us.

Lament is how Christians grieve. It is how to help hurting people. Lament is how we learn important truths about God and our world.[4]

The Particular Circumstance (vv. 2-11)

Next, the psalmist shares the particular circumstance. A wicked man is acting arrogantly (v. 2) and boasting (v. 3). They are renouncing the LORD (v. 3). In pride he says, “There is no God” (v. 4).

The wicked man also gloats over his enemies (v. 5) and conceitedly thinks no harm will ever touch him (v. 6). He deceives and oppresses freely (v. 7). He even looks for opportunities to destroy other people, even those who have done nothing wrong (v. 8). He waits for an opportunity to exploit the poor and vulnerable through his tricks (v. 9). He crushes the needy (v. 10). But he doesn’t worry about it because he says in his heart, “God will never see it” (v. 11).

That was the particular situation for the psalmist then. We face different but relatable circumstances and challenges. There are still wicked people that do terrible things to other people.

This psalm teaches us that we can share the challenges that we’re facing with the LORD. Like what’s going on with the coronavirus. We can share it with Him. We can even share that we’re upset about it.

We share it with Him and then we…

Cry for Help (vv. 12-15)

The psalmist says,  

Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless…
Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.

It can be right and good to call out for justice. Notice, however, that we call out for justice to God. We do not take justice into our own hands. “Vengeance is mine, thus says, the LORD” (Rom. 12:9); but that’s not something we should say.

We can cry out to the LORD and trust Him to carry out justice because we have…

Confidence in the LORD (vv. 16-18)

The LORD is King forever and ever…
LORD, you have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their hearts.
You will listen carefully,
doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed
so that mere humans from the earth may terrify them no more.

May we learn more and more to lay out our lament to the LORD.

“We need to recover the ancient practice of lament and the grace that comes through it. Christianity suffers when lament is missing.”[5]

[1] “Lament can be defined as a loud cry, a howl, or a passionate expression of grief. However, in the Bible lament is more than sorrow or talking about sadness… Lament is a prayer in pain that leads to trust (Mark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, 28).

[2] Here are the community laments in the Psalms 12, 44, 58, 60, 74, 79, 80, 83, 85, 89, 90, 94, 123, 126, 129 and here are the individual laments 3, 4, 5, 7, 9-10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 36, 39, 40:12-17, 41, 42-43, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 64, 70, 71, 77, 86, 89, 120, 139, 141, 142.

[3] Paul David Tripp, Suffering, 92.

[4] Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, 21.

[5] Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, 21.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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