Psalms of Lament: Help for the Discouraged

When we are feeling discouraged or going through a difficult time, the best thing we can do is turn to God and His Word. Within the 66 books that make up the Bible, God has placed many words of encouragement and comfort, words that can help us through times of discouragement and distress. The Bible is filled with many stories of God’s people facing trials and tribulations, dealing with discouragement and distress. In many cases, the words spoken or actions taken by those people can be a source of great encouragement for us as we read how they dealt with their difficulties.

One of the best places to look in the Bible when you are feeling discouraged or distressed is the book of Psalms. Within the 150 psalms contained in that book are more than sixty psalms that are considered lament psalms. Lament psalms make up the largest group of psalms in the entire book. In a lament psalm, we hear the writer crying out to God, telling God what he is dealing with and expressing deep feelings to God. One example of a lament psalm is Psalm 54, which David wrote at a time when the Ziphites had betrayed him to Saul, who was looking for David in order to kill him.

Psalm 54, like all lament psalms, illustrates a pattern that we can follow in our own times of distress and discouragement. In those times, we need to cry out to God for help. David does exactly that, asking God to save him and to hear his prayer (Psalm 54:1-2). The next thing that David does is tell God what the problem is. He tells God that his enemies are attacking and trying to kill him, then points out to God that these are enemies who have no regard for God (Psalm 54:3).

When we are crying out to God, we need to tell Him what we are dealing with and how it makes us feel. God wants to hear these things from us. He wants us to talk to Him about what is troubling us and the feelings we have. But we also need to tell God that, despite our difficulties, our confidence in Him has not been shaken. David does this when he states that God is his help and is the one who sustains him (Psalm 54:4).

Once he had expressed his feelings and stated his confidence in God, David asked God to deal with his enemies (Psalm 54:5). When we have talked to God about our problems and our feelings and have expressed our confidence in Him, we should present our request to Him. We need to tell Him what we are seeking from Him. God’s desire is to help His people. When we cry out to God, expressing our deep feelings and asking for His help in our situation, God hears our prayers and He will give us the peace we need while we wait for His answer.

In the last part of a lament psalm, the writer often promises God that, when he receives the answer to his prayers, He will offer God a sacrifice of praise and will testify of God’s faithfulness. David does that in the last two verses of Psalm 54 (Psalm 54:6-7). While our cry to God for help should never be “let’s make a deal,” when we receive an answer to our prayers it is good to give Him praise and testify of God’s faithfulness to others. We should praise God at all times because He is worthy of our praise but, when we see His faithfulness and His grace and mercy in our lives, we should overflow with praise.

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