Our texts for this week, with the exception of Psalm 150, highlight the Davidic kingdom and its importance in Israel’s story. Though full of drama, missteps, and sadness, the Davidic kingdom becomes like Camelot to God’s people. They look back wistfully, not simply pining for those good ole days, but also seeing them as God’s promise for their destiny. They see David’s kingdom as the way things ought to be. When we read all of Psalm 89, written during the exile, this becomes clear.
In this worship hymn, the psalmist forthrightly reminds the Almighty of God’s promise to David. They had a covenant, a “holy deal” assuring the people that David’s kingdom would survive and prosper. Even if the king’s sons mess things up and must be punished, God will not withdraw God’s love. Imagine an entire congregation reminding God of this promise in unison. Then picture a cantor moving to the podium to solemnly read today’s verses and conclude, “You’ve rejected us and renounced your covenant. Where is your former love that you swore to David?” (see vv. 38, 49).
This hymn is one of many in the Psalms that remind us that lament has a place in our worship, as it did in ancient, exiled Israel. When churches make no room for this sort of expression in our corporate worship, many leave our pews and wonder why everyone else seems to be living a different life than they are, one that only produces praise, thanksgiving, and joy.
Only about a third of the lament psalms are found in the various lectionaries, and they appear rarely. Take note that today’s reading ends in verse 37, before the worshipers let God have it. Everyone edits.
How much do you edit your prayers to God? Why? What happens when you give yourself permission to express the kind of honesty and complaints that Psalm 89 expresses? What does it take for you to be that real with God?
God, help me take my masks off when I pray. Teach me to pray honestly so that my relationship with you will be real. Amen.