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Praise and Lament Praise and Lament

Praise and Lament


In the preface to his commentary on the Psalms, John Calvin describes the book in this way, “I have been accustomed to call this book . . . ‘An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul,’ for there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as a mirror.” The Psalms are a true reflection of the life we experience in a fallen world.

Psalms 9 and 10 belong together as one psalm in two parts. Psalm 9 is the first half of an acrostic that runs through Psalm 10. David begins with a rousing call to give thanks to the Lord (9:1–2). He calls on people everywhere to rejoice because the Lord has defeated his enemies, established justice, and been a refuge for the poor and oppressed (9:3–10). The Lord reigns and “does not ignore the cries of the afflicted” (9:12).

Yet, his thanksgiving takes a turn and shifts to lament. Even though God had rescued David in the past, there was a new enemy who needed to be confronted. This man hunted down the vulnerable, was arrogant, and had “no room for God” in his thoughts (10:4). He rejected God’s law and prospered by abusing the “innocent’ and “helpless” (10:5, 8–10). David begs God to “arise” and “not forget the helpless” (10:12).

But at the end, David says he is confident in God. The Lord “hears the desire of the afflicted” and listens “to their cry” (10:17). David had seen God answer prayer in the past and he trusts Him for the future. The wicked would not get away with it forever. One day, all people will give an account before the Judge of all the earth. In this one poem, David travels from thanksgiving to lament and back again to rest in a place of hope.

Pray with Us

Lord, like David, we also struggle with the afflictions of this world. And like David, we place our hope in you. Thank you that, echoing Psalm 10, we can say, “the Lord​ hears the desire of the afflicted.”

BY Ryan Cook

Dr. Ryan Cook has taught at Moody Bible Institute since 2012. He earned his bachelor of arts in Bible and Theology from Moody and his master of arts in Old Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He has worked in Christian education and served as a pastor in Michigan for seven years. During his time as a professor at Moody, he earned his doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. He now lives with his wife, Ashley, and their three children in the Chicagoland area.

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