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The psalms of lament lead us finally to the deepest dimension of the witness of the Bible: faith’s acknowledgment that the God who reveals himself in history remains hidden. He does not become the prisoner of human thoughts or the captive of their schemes, nor is his purpose easily discernible in the unfolding drama of human history.  

Living in the space between promise and fulfilment, people  of faith are torn between the No and the Yes. In the New Testament we find that the very place where God’s victory is manifest – the Cross – is the place where the shadows are deepest. Jesus appropriately takes the laments of the Psalter into his own suffering with us. To be sure, the darkness is illumined by the dawn of Easter morning; but the darkness remains as a trial for faith. 

It is understandable that in our time, when faith is subjected to the trail of living in the time of “the eclipse of God” (Martin Buber), men and women have learned to compose their own psalms of lament. 

Laments are praises in the time of God’s absence, or, stated differently, in the time when his presence is hidden. Perhaps modern humans are coming to know, even more radically than the psalmists who composed the poignant laments of the Psalter, that in the time of God’s silence people must wait for God to show himself. Yet such a time is the time to “seek God’s face” (see Psalm 27:7-14) in the confidence that he will open a way into the future when there seems to be no way. 

Modern people’s experience of the absence of God is not irrelevant to worship: it may become the occasion for the cry “out of the depths”. 

Source: Notes taken and adapted from Bernhard W. Anderson, Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1974), 70. 


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