Psalms of Joy and Lament, FEB2020


Psalms of Joy and Lament, FEB2020

I appreciated this information on the Psalms – which i found on the internet, especially Michael Card saying sorrow is allowed and that’s included in the psalms of lamentations….

“Through petition, praise, lament and song, the Psalmist articulates both the difficulties of living in a fallen world but also the eternal truths about the character of God. The psalms made up the songbook of Jesus and the apostles. If habits matter in the life of a disciple, I want the psalms to form my heart and mind every day.

Michael Card: “A Bottomless Resource”

The psalms tell us who we are, and we need to know that. They provide spiritual bread or living water, or all those metaphors that we sing about. The psalms provide meat that the congregation is so hungry for. The psalms are a connection for us. When I’m lamenting, I may feel disconnected from God. The psalms express that experience. When I’m joyful, the psalms give me language to connect to that joy and remember that it comes from God. He never slumbers. He never sleeps. In the end, the psalms provide for every need, all those misconnections, all the things we’re hungry for, all the correctives we need to remind us that life isn’t about us, but is really all about him. The psalms are a bottomless resource for all the things we need.

Jackie Hill Perry: “Connected to Glory”

If the psalms were written over a span of hundreds of years, then that means God wanted these songs to be read, God wanted them to be preserved. To read the Psalms points us to him in a way that he wants, because God’s greatest aim is his glory. He loves us, and he wants us to love him, which is to glorify him, to know him, to exalt him. There must be something in the psalms that pushes us to Jesus, that secures us in Jesus, that helps us to know God. It isn’t just songs or poetry that we read to learn about ourselves. The psalms push us to worship Jesus. That’s why they matter. If it’s connected to glory, then it should matter to all of us.

We Dare Not Lose the Psalms

The first few words heard on Michael Card’s CD The Hidden Face of God extend an invitation to a very specific group of listeners– “If you are wounded…” Because after 25 years of composing and singing legendary songs, writing award-winning books, hosting his own radio talk shows, and ministering in churches worldwide, Michael believes he has finally recognized what is lacking in the life of the average Christian today – lamenting.

“Our theology tells us that if we complain to God, we’re being disrespectful,” says Michael. “But at least 80 of the Psalms are actually Laments. It has become a lost language to our culture, yet almost every major Biblical character recorded a lament. There must be a reason for that.”

So what is lamenting? Webster says to lament is to “mourn aloud; to express sorrow or regret; cry out in grief; complain.” Michael says lamenting is ultimately a place of pure worship.

In The Hidden Face of God, Michael discovers that place of praise and worship through tearful, sometimes tragic, lyrics. “Every lament in the Bible, with the exception of Psalm 88, ends in praise,” Michael continues. “The answer to all our laments is seeing the face of God. Job wasn’t going to stop complaining until God came down and spoke to him. And when God finally did that – even though He didn’t bother to explain to Job why his sufferings were taking place – His presence was enough to make Job’s questions go away.”

The song “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” brings another Old Testament truth to life. “I have discovered that true worship involves a wilderness experience,” says Michael. “God told Pharaoh, ‘Let my people go so they may worship Me in the wilderness.’ We need to get over our misunderstanding that if we grumble to God we are somehow dishonoring Him. God doesn’t wilt from our complaints. In fact He says, ‘Bring it on.’ What He desires from all of us is complete honesty and truth. And sometimes, the truth is we are disappointed with God.”

Michael’s personal laments have come about in the midst of tremendous grief. He comforted his sister when she lost two young children, and then years later, watched while his 18-year old nephew died of cancer. During these intense times of sorrow, Michael found that “normal” worship was not working.

“I felt that my own experiences of praise and worship had become anemic. I would be in a corporate worship setting where people were going to places I couldn’t go. I felt like the only things I had to offer were confusion and pain. But then I realized, if that is all I had, I needed to share it with God anyway. He wants all of us – even if all we have to offer Him is our doubt and uncertainty.”

Who wrote the book?

Psalms, a collection of lyrical poems, is one of only two Old Testament books to identify itself as a composite work containing multiple authors (Proverbs is the other). Some psalms name their author in the first line or title. For example, Moses wrote Psalm 90. David was responsible for many of them, composing seventy-three psalms. Asaph wrote twelve; the descendants of Korah penned ten. Solomon wrote one or two, and Ethan and Heman the Ezrahites were responsible for two others. The remainder of the psalms do not contain information about their authors.

The Psalms are traditionally divided into five “books,” possibly to reflect the five books of the Torah—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Today I’d like to point out two beautiful aspects of this organizing structure: first, our position in relationship to the Lord that is predominant in each book, and second, the doxology (expression of praise) that concludes each book.

Book One

Psalms 1 through 41, which make up the first book, emphasize how God is beside us. A good example is found in the very first Psalm where we read that the man who meditates on God’s Word is like a tree planted by streams of water—he prospers in everything he does. Another example is found in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

David goes on to say that there’s no reason to fear any evil because God is always with us.

Book One closes with this doxology in Psalm 41:13:

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting!

Amen and Amen.


Book Two

The second book consists of Psalms 42 through 72. Here attention is given to how God goes before us. David confesses his sin in Psalm 51 and pleads with the Lord to wash away his transgression and to create in him a clean heart.

Book Two closes with this expression of praise found in Psalm 72:19:

Blessed be his glorious name forever;

may the whole earth be filled with his glory!

Amen and Amen!


Book Three

The third book (Psalms 73–89) reminds us that God is all around us. Asaph recounts the history of God’s people in Psalm 78, showing us that God has been at work the whole time. He admonishes the children of Israel to tell the next generation, even the children yet to be born, the great and mighty deeds of the Lord.

Book Three closes with this simple doxology in Psalm 89:52:

Blessed be the Lord forever!

Amen and Amen.


Book Four

The fourth book (Psalms 90–106) focuses on how God is above us. Psalm 90 is the one psalm credited to Moses. In it, he speaks of how our lives on this earth are brief, so we need to number our days aright. God, on the other hand, is eternal, and He will reign forever and ever.

Book Four closes with these words in Psalm 106:48:

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting!

And let all the people say, “Amen!”

Praise the Lord!

Book Five

In the fifth and final book (Psalms 107–150), the spotlight is on how the God is among us. Psalm 128 paints a beautiful picture of a man who fears God. He is happy and blessed. His wife is like a fruitful vine within the home, and his children are like olive plants around the table. And he shall see peace and prosperity in his nation.

Book Five closes with the doxology found in the Psalm 150:1–6:

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in his sanctuary;

praise him in his mighty heavens!

Praise him for his mighty deeds;

praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;

praise him with lute and harp!

Praise him with tambourine and dance;

praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with sounding cymbals;

praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!


To sum up, here’s a quick look at the emphasis of each of the five books in Psalms:

Book 1: God beside us

Book 2: God going before us

Book 3: God around us

Book 4: God above us

Book 5: God among us

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