Psalms of lament

There are many things that may keep us awake in the night. Sometimes, it may be anticipation of an exciting event or upcoming project but, more often than not, it’s fear, anxiety, stress and distress that chase sleep from our weary hearts and bodies.

So, as children of God, how are we to react to the challenges and trials and circumstances that so distress us? What are we to do when sleeps eludes us and we feel at our most helpless and abandoned? The answer is found in God’s Word and, very particularly, in the Book of Psalms.

This wonderful book of poetry and song represents a rich tapestry of prayer and praise. In the Psalms we find a complete cross-section of human emotions and experiences; the delight of praise, the pain of persecution, the heartbreak of loss and bereavement, the hope of heaven, and the cry for justice.

Psalms of lament are songs that cry out to God in times of deep distress and despair. They comprise the largest group of psalms accounting for almost one third of the entire collection. There are also 7 penitential psalms which, in effect, lament our sin, express repentance and seek forgiveness. Together, they provide context and vocabulary for expressing our fears, confusion, pain, sorrows, loss and failures.

This is the first in a series of psalms of lament and penitential psalms suitable for private, family and corporate worship. I hope they will bless you in singing them as much as they’ve blessed me in studying and arranging them.

Psalm 130 : A song of ascents.

Lyrics: Sing Psalms – Free Church of Scotland (Stanzas 1 and 3 only)
Tune: Belmont C.M – Melody from William Gardiner’s Sacred Melodies, 1812
Key: F major
Tempo: 76 BPM

This is one of 7 penitential psalms and, while our trials and challenges aren’t always a function of our sin, it’s no bad thing to consider lament in terms of our standing before God, to come before Him in repentance and, indeed, to lament our sin.

The psalmist is waiting with great intensity and expectancy; he knows that his sin separates him from God but that, when we fully repent, God in His great mercy strikes our sins from the record.