1Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me;
all day long foes oppress me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many fight against me.
O Most High, 3 when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?
5 All day long they seek to injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They stir up strife, they lurk,
they watch my steps.
As they hoped to have my life,
7 so repay them for their crime;
in wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
8 You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will retreat
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?
12 My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
Psalm 56 is one of the lament psalms written by David during his time in Gath recorded in 1 Samuel 21. King David is on the run from King Saul when he writes these emotion-filled words, asking for God to deliver him from his friend-turned-enemy. David is rightfully afraid for his life. Every which way he turns, Saul seems to be right on his tail. But through all David’s pleas to God for deliverance, he places trust in the Lord.
The psalms of lament are songs and poems that cry out to God in times of deep distress and despair and are a great way to help us express our hurt, anguish, frustration, and despair to God when we struggle to find the right words, no matter their source. These psalms also allow us to honestly direct our “negative” emotions toward these sources. Maybe, like David, you have an actual enemy who has severely betrayed you. Maybe your life’s circumstances are completely out of your control and there is no enemy to blame. Or maybe you are impossibly angry or upset with yourself and are feeling worthless or unworthy. David’s fear and honesty gives us permission to bring our anger, doubt, and fears before the Lord as well.
As we continue to navigate through times of uncertainty it is important that we allow ourselves to be honest with God about what we are feeling. God can handle our doubts and fears and indeed wants us to be vulnerable when we lament. Being fully honest and vulnerable with God is an act of trust; it shows that we trust God to listen and show up in the midst of our deepest pains. We should strive to join David in his prayer that above all else we will put our trust in the Lord. We may not know how long these seasons will last, but we do know that God is here with us and shows up for us in the bleakest of circumstances so that we can truthfully proclaim, “It is in God that I will trust and not be afraid.”
God, we confess that during difficult times we tend to seek refuge in other places rather than trusting in you. Help us to process our feelings of grief, fear, and doubt with you so that we can navigate through this season closer to you. We join our voices with prayers from around the world that this global pandemic would come to an end. Amen.