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1st July

Lamentations 3; Psalm 27

Bible in a Year
5 minutes
In this article
1st July

Lamentations 3; Psalm 27

Bible in a Year
5 minutes


So far we’ve started the book of Lamentations. This book was written by someone who witnessed, first-hand, the destruction of Jerusalem and is now processing the suffering and brokenness that they saw. We saw this reflected in the violent imagery and language they used.

This book, much like many of the other books we've read, is not a clean and pretty book. It's raw and explicit and emotional. The more we try to clean up the Bible and make it pretty and easy to read, the more we actually dishonour the human emotions that the Bible is trying to speak to and heal. The first four poems are acrostic, where each section starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

We read through the first poem, which pictured Jerusalem as a widow who had lost her husband and children and was working through her pain. The brokenness and wickedness that she saw pointed her inward to look at the brokenness and wickedness she'd expressed in her own life. Then we read through the second poem that focused on God's wrath; his righteous judgement against the continual wickedness of a people over centuries.

Lamentations 3

We'd mentioned that the first four poems are acrostics, where the start of each verse was a different letter of the alphabet. The third poem changes this up slightly. It groups its verse into threes, so the first three verses will all start with the first letter of the alphabet, and then the second three verses will each start with the second letter, and so on.

In this poem, we experience what all the people of Judah went through, through the eyes of one man. As this one man cries out, we see him go through five steps. The first is to acknowledge his present suffering. He admits that he is being punished by God. His skin is wasting away, and he is surrounded by bitterness. It feels like God has trapped him and is ignoring his prayers. Like God is a wild animal ready to tear him apart and pierce him through. He is laughed at and mocked. He has no peace or happiness. His soul is continually reminded of how awful his life is.

And then comes the turning point. 'But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:' (Lamentations 3:21). This man acknowledges his suffering but doesn't allow himself to sit there. He brings himself to the second stage, reminding himself of the goodness of God. God is merciful and faithful. There is reason to hope. God is good to those who wait patiently on him.

May the one who is suffering have patience, because God will not cause them to suffer forever. He is a God of compassion that cares deeply for his people. God will not allow injustice to reign. He is powerful and mighty. Nothing happens without his say so. If it is the case that God is punishing someone for their wickedness, then why should they complain?

This leads our speaker to step three, looking inward for any sin or wickedness. If there is, turn away from it and turn back to God. Having acknowledged his sin, we now move to step four, recognising the consequences of our sin. In his justice, God has punished his people for their injustice. He has brought the enemies of his people to come and destroy them. So now the speaker will weep for his suffering. He is hunted, beaten, and cast out. Which then brings us to the final stage, making big requests and trusting in God.

Having recognised the reality of his suffering vs the reality of who God is, and having identified his own sin and the consequences of it, our speaker now asks God to break into this situation. His request is simple, "Do not close your ear to my cry for help!" (Lamentations 3:56). He asks God to hear him, to protect him, and to remove those who are oppressing him. And he has every trust that God will do what he says he will do.

This simple five-step process is great for when we go through difficult times. Step one, recognise the reality that the situation we're going through is hard. Step two, remind ourselves of the truth of God's goodness. Step three, identify then sin and brokenness in our lives that need to change. Step four, acknowledge the consequences that sin has had on our lives. And step five, ask God to break into our situation and trust that he will. This is a clear example of how we can implement the practice of lament into our own lives.

Psalm 27

This psalm is attributed to king David and falls into the category of lament psalm, where the psalmist brings their struggles before God. While lament psalms normally start with the complaint and work towards declaring trust in God, this psalm opens on a foundation of trust.

It is structured in a chiasm where the passage reflects itself, as though the psalmist lays out all the things they trust about God and then places their requests and struggles within that.

a) Psalm 27:1 - The Lord is my strength

b) Psalm 27:2-3 - My enemies

c) Psalm 27:4 - Let me dwell in the Lord’s presence

d) Psalm 27:5 - The Lord will take me in

e) Psalm 27:6 - Three positive declarations 

f) Psalm 27:7 - Hear me

f) Psalm 27:8 - Let me see you

e) Psalm 27:9 - Three negative requests

d) Psalm 27:10 - The Lord will take me in

c) Psalm 27:11 - Lead me in your ways

b) Psalm 27:12 - My enemies

a) Psalm 27:13-14 - Be strong in the Lord

The psalm opens with the declaration that the Lord is the psalmist’s strength. Because of this strength, it doesn’t matter what their enemies or opponents throw at them. They will not stumble or fear because they have God.

Next, the psalmist stands their ground on something they have been asking God for a while. That they might stand in his presence. They can have confidence in this because the Lord is the one who gathers and protects his people. 

Because of the Lord, there are three things that the psalmist can now do. He can hold his head high, he can make his offering with joy, and he can sing praise to God.

With this foundation laid, the psalmist then asks God to hear his prayer, and this is where the psalm begins to reflect itself. He asks God to hear him and then asks that he might see God.

He had stated three things he can do because of God and now asks God not to do three things; hide his face, turn the psalmist away in his anger, cast the psalmist out of his presence.

He once again states the truth that the Lord is a God who gathers and protects those that are his, and asks the Lord to lead him in his way. Finally, he makes one more request, that he not be handed over to his enemies, and then ends where he began. The Lord is his strength.

Through this psalm, we see how a proper understanding of who God is can lead us to make big asks that he not forsake us. Instead, we can seek him to lead us and protect us in our struggles.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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