Life in Seasons of Lament
August 28, 2022
When we are in crisis, we don’t always think rightly or well. The disciples were no different. On one occasion, Jesus took the disciples on a boat trip across the Sea of Galilee — a body of water with which many of them were very familiar. Seemingly as soon as they were under way, Jesus went to the bottom of the boat to take a nap and while He was asleep, a tremendous storm arose on the Sea and the boat was taking on water faster than it could be bailed; we are led to believe that sinking was a possibility.
In desperation, the 12 woke up Jesus and said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk. 4:38). That’s an astounding question — does their Creator who made them in His image and wove together every aspect of their material and spiritual being not care about their survival? Does the One who created and notices and cares for every sparrow not care about these beloved men who were adopted as spiritual sons?
Before we accuse the disciples of folly, we should acknowledge that their response is not atypical. When suffering, people often complain not just to God, but against God: “Don’t You see what is happening? Don’t You care about me?” And that is exactly the scenario in the section of Psalm 119 before us this morning. Similar to the cry of the disciples, the tone of vv. 153-160 is a lament. The cries for help are repeated and urgent. The psalmist is experiencing trouble and goes to God for help.
While suffering is a common theme in this psalm, the later portions emphasize his suffering more than the earlier stanzas — it almost seems like he is becoming more desperate for help as he nears the end of the psalm. In some stanzas (as in vv. 145-152), the suffering is “generic,” but in this stanza (vv. 153-160) it is clear that he is being oppressed by enemies; we might even use the word “persecuted.”
Two words dominate this section (vv. 153-160): Look as his request/lament for God to consider his plight, and revive his request for God to specifically act on his behalf. Spurgeon calls this a “pleading passage.”
Those two requests seem to form a chiastic structure to the psalm, which helps us understand its theme:
Even though suffering and afflicted, the psalmist adheres to God in his suffering. He will say it this way:
When oppressed, be confident in God to see and respond to your need.
Observe three requests of the psalmist when he is oppressed by enemies:
- Lord, Consider My Afflictions (vv. 153-154)
- Lord, Consider My Afflicters (vv. 155-158)
- Lord, Consider My Affections (vv. 159-160)
- Summary: Remember God When Afflicted
Download the rest of this sermon on Psalm 119:153-160.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.