Summary: This sermon focusses on the family of Psalms known as Laments. In a Lament the Psalmist brings his complaints and problems to God. A Lament is also an occasion when the faithfulness and care of God is questioned. Psalm 88 is the example.
Introduction to Reading
We are up to our sixth sermon in this series on the Psalms. Through this series we have learnt how to interpret the different “Genres” or types of Psalms which are in the Scriptures. The seven genres are:-
This morning we are going to look at the family of Psalms known as Laments. In a Lament the Psalmist brings his complaints and problems to God. A Lament is also an occasion when the faithfulness and care of God is questioned.
Laments are very depressing, but they are also very real. They express the raw emotion of people who are disappointed by God and His actions. Many people can relate to the laments as they think about the activities which they have gone through. Some laments in the Psalms include:-
The key to understanding these types of Psalms is to recognise that God allows us to express our emotions – even when those emotions question His faithfulness.
Today we are going to consider Psalm 88 which is perhaps one of the most depressing Laments. Usually, in a Lament, there is some sort of expression of confidence that God will respond. However the last word in the Hebrew version of Psalm 88 is “darkness”. As we read through this Psalm we might be surprised at the strength of the language used – but we cannot doubt that this Psalm gives expression to how we can feel at times.
Series: Responding to God
Telling God My Complaints and Problems
A sermon on Psalm 88
Read straight away.
A more literal way to translate the last verse of this Psalm would be:-
You have put loved one and neighbour at a distance from me, my acquaintances … darkness …
It doesn’t get much more depressing than that – does it? The Psalm starts with a small measure of hope. O LORD the God who saves me. But you soon get the sense that hope is a long way off.
A candle light in a sea of despair.
A tattered umbrella in a raging storm.
All this Psalm basically has to offer is verse after verse of grief, complaints, questions and doubts. In the end … darkness.
It is the most extreme example of a Psalm of Lament.
And it is so helpful for us, because it is so real.
Let’s use this Psalm this morning to see why Psalms of Lament are so important in our own walk with God … especially when our walk is one of disappointment. There are three ways that these Psalms help us.
Psalms of Lament remind us that God is big enough to deal with our complaints and questions.
Christians can be a strange lot sometimes. I have sat in conversations where a person has poured out their heart. They feel that God has let them down. They are worried about the future. They feel lonely and afraid. After conversations like this I encourage the person to pray. The pray just doesn’t match the moment.
“We praise You God for being so wonderful. You have provided all our needs. I am so thankful that You are in control.”
That is how the prayer will go. And it is all true. But it in no way reflects the emotions of the moment. It’s like people are afraid to tell God what is really going on. That somehow God will be offended by our honesty.