Lament



In some ways this follows on from yesterday's post. As I said yesterday, the Psalms reflect the real feelings of God's people, even when those feelings include the desire to dash enemy children against rocks (Psalm 137: 8-9)... Always wondered how you actually sing a song like that within the context of worship? The fact that such thoughts are included within the hymnbook of the Old Testament does not make them laudable, but it recognises their reality.
Among the laments are what we regard as Psalms 42 & 43, although they are probably a single song, divided into two by someone who went on to be a programme editor for Channel 5. What follows is my paraphrase of these 2 Psalms:

As a wanderer in the desert gasps for water,
so my soul is gasping for you, O God,
My heart thirsts for God, the real God
for the living God of action, instead of the dead God of empty words,
a life-giving oasis, rather than the mirage that is always just out of reach.
I long to leave this earth and live with God.
My only drink is my tears,
I eat myself up from the inside out,
Three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
While I hear myself saying,
"What sort of a man of God are you?"
Here I am pouring out my heart and soul to you:
The shadow behind the masked-man who leads your people,
Standing smiling at the front of your house, O God,
Singing songs of joy and leading the people in prayers of thanksgiving.

Why are you down in the depths, my soul?
Why so unsettled and unsure?
Focus on God, and praise him;
Praise him until you mean it…
my Saviour and Sustainer.

My soul is weighed down within me;
therefore I will go over and over all that you have done…
Remember your deeds from the dawn of time...
Reflect on your works from one end of the world to the other.
But I heard the turbulent depths within me echoing the roaring depths at the foot of Niagara;
I felt myself being knocked over and broken by breakers, washed away by waves like those in the Atlantic Ocean.
I found myself buried up to the neck, and more by the encroaching dunes of the desert wastes.
I know the LORD loves me night and day
We sing of his everlasting love all the time.
But I pray to the God of my life,
I say to God, my Rock
"Why do I feel like you have forgotten me?
Why do I feel like I am mourning,
Deserted by friends, surrounded by enemies?"
My health is failing as my mind turns rebel and joins the other side saying,
"Where is this God you’re always talking about?"

Why are you down in the depths, my soul?
Why so unsettled and unsure?
Focus on God, and praise him;
Praise him until you mean it…
my Saviour and Sustainer.

Prove me right, O God,
Make your presence felt in the midst of this godless nation;
Prove yourself to the secular scoffers, and to me.
You are supposed to be God, my stronghold,
So why do I feel that I’m standing on the wrong side of the moat and the drawbridge has been pulled up?
Again, why do I feel like I am mourning,
Deserted by friends, surrounded by enemies?
Send your love light as a torch and your truth as a compass,
So I can hike back up, through the low-lying clouds, to the heights of holiness,
to the place where you dwell.
I want to go to the throne of God,
My God,
the wellspring of joy and source of delight.
Then I will recover my voice
My whole being will become an instrument of praise,
O God, my God.

Why are you down in the depths, my soul?
Why so unsettled and unsure?
Focus on God, and praise him;
Praise him until you mean it…
my Saviour and Sustainer.


Psalms 42 & 43
ps. Before anyone else gets really worried and starts sending me anxious emails, this paraphrase does not reflect my current state of mind, but it is informed by it and previous experiences, both of myself and others.

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