Psalm 54: Can Lament Help Cure Worry?
If it can be worried about, it must be worried about. That’s one of my life philosophies. Not that it’s a good one. Not that it was one of my own choosing. My mother, a champion worrier, handed this philosophy down to me. I wish I could be rid of this obsessive worry. I’m working on it. First I needed to become aware of it and the craziness that lies therein. But I’ve yet to manage to free myself of this philosophy. It has taken root in my psyche and refuses to move out.
Reasons to Worry
It doesn’t help that there are so many reasons to worry. The white house and congress are stuck in a stalemate over the budget. Where will this lead? While we may not be aware of the consequences of this shutdown as our lives continue to go on from day to day, we are being affected by it in some way.
Others struggle with the bureaucracy of health insurance as they try to get necessary prescriptions or medical procedures. Still others have had their identity stolen.
There are many situations over which we have no control. Whether we realize it or not, decisions being made in government chambers, boardrooms, and terrorists cells far from our home are affecting us. Where will all of this lead? A market crash and depression? Another war? And then there’s global warming.
With all of the reasons to worry, some might say, if you aren’t worried you are crazy.
Enter Psalm 54. It is a simple, individual, lament. Such laments make up about one third of the Psalter. The prevalence of these psalms of lament in the book of Psalms testifies to the universality of this condition.
It consists of four parts, an appeal (1-2), complaint (3), petition (4-5) and a vow (6-7). We know little about the circumstances of this lament. Some attribute the psalm to David during the time he was hiding from King Saul who sought to kill him, but it lacks the emotional intensity typical of David. Psalm 54 states the case of being in a situation where there is no hope unless God intervenes.
In the face of this adversity, the writer proclaims his confidence in God. “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” (4) He is so confident that he thanks God in advance for delivering him from his troubles. “I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good, for you have delivered me from every trouble.” (6b-7a)
We all have circumstances in our life over which we have no control. Psalm 54 is for all of those times.
A Cure for Worry
Fortunately, we have another force operating in our world that is benevolent and stronger than all of these other powers, a force for good. When worrying about forces beyond our control, about circumstances that we can’t change, look to the Psalms of lament and learn from them. Pour out our troubles to the Lord and then leave them in God’s capable hands, trusting in God’s power to save.
Laments are there for us during times when all we can do is cry out to our God in our frustration, anger and pain, and know that our God listens. They can be an antidote for worries in our life.
As Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.”
How do you deal with worry? Are there negative philosophies that are running your life without you being aware of them? I would love to hear from you!
This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of Still Dancing, the second book in my Dancing through Life Series. click here to sign up
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