Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 58

LAMENT - Carlson psalmist’s complaint: “In this section, the psalmist defines the distress or describes the crisis that serves as the stimulus for his cry to God. In his desperation, the psalmist endeavors both to move God to act and to relieve his own heart by expressing verbally what he is experiencing.”31 The distress of the individual laments includes “sickness, accusation, loneliness, persecution, fear, guilt, as well as severe personal challenges.”32 In relationship to traumatic experience, Estes’s “persecution” should be further expanded. These psalms often mention “enemies” whose actions include “verbal assaults, either taunting or framing the psalmist with false accusations, or . . . actual physical assaults where they seek the psalmist’s life.”33 In the communal laments, distress rises out of “corporate crisis such as military attack . . . drought, famine, and epidemic.”34 Lamenters are those who have been completely unnerved and disoriented35 (we could easily say traumatized) by the incomprehensible experience of divine denial and alienation.36 This is evidenced in the lamenter’s bewildered questions (Why? How long O Lord?) and desperate entreaties (Hear! Look! Pay attention!).37 Claus Westermann notes that “the heart of the lament of the people in ancient Israel lies in these accusatory questions and statements directed at God.”38 The unnerved psalmist’s questions, and especially his descriptions of distress, are presented “in such a way as to evoke a response from Yahweh.”39 Lament “recognizes the gap between God’s promises and human experience and believes that this dissonance should be presented to God 31. Daniel J. Estes, Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 166. 32. Ibid. 33. Craig C. Broyles, “Lament, Psalms of,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings, ed. Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008), 388. 34. Estes, Handbook, 166. 35. Peter Scazzero and Warren Bird, The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 165. 36. Claus Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1981), 176–177. 37. Estes, Handbook, 167. 38. Westermann, Praise and Lament, 177. 39. Broyles, “Lament, Psalms of,” 388. 57