Psalms of Lament and God’s Silence: Features of Petition Not Yet Answered

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Biblical Studies | Christianity


While the Psalter truly paints a picture of the ebb and flow of the life of faith experienced in all its seasons, the psalms of lament capture the faithful’s most extreme moments of vulnerability and their corresponding petitions to God. These raw and emotional cries to the Lord in the midst of true anguish and need often express descriptions of God as one who is sleeping, silent, or unaware of the crises which face the psalmists. Herein lies a tension within the Psalter at large. Namely, the psalms on the one hand express praise and thanksgiving to the one who is a very present help in times of need, according to Psalm 46:1, and one who does not slumber in his protection of his people, according to Psalm 121:4. On the other hand, the very real experiences of those petitioning the psalms of lament are often a catalyst for expressed feelings of abandonment and desertion which warrant prayer intended to rouse God into action.