Passage: Psalm 13
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
There are over forty psalms of lament, and these very human psalms teach us how to “answer God” when we face the inevitable pain that life brings. When facing pain and despair, some bottle their pain in and some lash out, but in Psalm 13, David gives us a better way—the way of lament.
Psalm 13 first teaches us the “language of lament.” For many reasons, we avoid lamenting, but David puts into words the full range of his distress—spiritual, psychological, emotional, and relational. Though it’s hard to do, we will be emotionally and spiritually impoverished if we cannot learn to lament. Second, lament expresses our deep need for God—to be seen by him, and to be given a new outlook. In lament, we recognize our own need, as well as the brokenness of the world, and our laments become pleas for God to meet our needs and fix his world in the ways that only he can do. Finally, we can lament because we hope in God’s unfailing love. David can lament, “How long, O Lord?”, without being driven to despair, only because “he has trusted in God’s unfailing love.” This love was ultimately proven in God’s becoming human, not only to experience our pain, but to do something about it. Jesus has already responded to the brokenness of the world, and is already redeeming it—but the world is not yet fully healed. For this in-between time, God has given us the language of lament.
- Lament Is a Language to Be Learned (vs. 1-2)
- Lament Expresses Our Deep Need for God (vs. 3-4)
- We Can Lament Because of God’s Unfailing Love (vs. 5-6)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Psalm 13)
Lament Is a Language to Be Learned (vs. 1-2)
Q) Richard began by sharing some of the ways we typically respond to pain and despair in life. Some of us bottle our pain inside of us, and others of us lash out angrily. Which way of dealing with pain do you more naturally gravitate towards? What are some of the effects of dealing with pain in this way?
Q) Re-read verses 1-2. What are some of the ways that David laments before God? What, specifically, is he lamenting over? (NOTE: The point of this question is not to guess David’s circumstances, but to notice the various aspects of David’s experience at this time—e.g. he felt forgotten by God, he had relational tension, etc.)
Q) Richard said that lament is like a language we need to learn, because we’re often uncomfortable lamenting. Why do you think many people are uncomfortable lamenting? Are there certain aspects of American culture that make lament feel out of place?
Q) In verse 1, David asks, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” Have you ever felt forgotten by God, or prayed a prayer like this? What were the circumstances?
Lament Expresses Our Deep Need for God (vs. 3-4)
Q) Re-read verses 3-4. In these verses, David’s laments to God become pleas for God to help him. What does David want God to do for him?
Q) When we pray for God to help us in the ways that only he can, God actually works to deepen our faith in him. Why do you think this is? Have you ever experienced a time when your faith was deepened by asking God for help in a time of desperate need?
Q) Just as lament can deepen our faith in God, avoiding lament can actually “close off doors to God.” Why does a lack of lament hinder our relationship with God?
We Can Lament Because of God’s Unfailing Love (vs. 5-6)
Q) Re-read verses 5-6. What is David trusting in, as he laments? What has God already done for David?
Q) How does trusting in God’s “steadfast love,” and remembering his past goodness to us free us up to lament more openly before him?
Q) The ultimate demonstration of God’s “steadfast love” is found in the gospel, when Jesus entered the pain of our broken world, not only to experience it with us, but to bear it and heal it. How does the gospel help us to praise God, even while we’re lamenting, and help us lament with a real sense of hopefulness?
Q) What is a practical way that you can express your laments to God this week, or in the future? (NOTE: The point is simply to think of how you can make space for lament, for e.g. you could write a prayer of lament in a journal or express laments to God while out alone in nature. Remember Richard’s suggestion to pray Psalm 13 this week, making it your own prayer).
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.