Wednesday 06 July 2016

Bible Book:
2 Samuel

"David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan." (v. 17)

2 Samuel 1:17-27 Wednesday 6 July 2016

Psalm: Psalm 115



Can you imagine a church turning a Sunday service over to alament? When was the last time you heard a full lament at afuneral? Sometimes we seem to have bought into an understanding ofour faith that requires us to be happy and cheerful all the time.Yet in this song of Israel we see something very different. We seea distraught David pouring out this great lament, full of sorrowand despair.

Not only has Jonathan whom he loved died, but with both Jonathanand Saul gone so has all David's hope for the future. Perhapsunlike us, David does not worry about expressing his despair andloss. He does not sit back and fret that others are going to feelhe is weak or faithless.

Yet our society is so obsessed with image that we are undercontinuous pressure to filter out anything from our behaviour andour expressed feelings, that looks weak or as if we can't cope.

We struggle with the idea of God allowing suffering so we refuseto express our suffering and so can't bring it to God.

But surely key to Christian faith is the understanding that whenJesus was dying on the cross God was suffering in and with him.Which is why the extreme versions of penal substitution are soproblematical. If God is simply punishing Jesus on the cross thenGod does not suffer and God cannot understand my suffering.

In both the Old and New Testaments the image of the Holy Spiritdwelling in God's people is there. When David in his sadness,despair and suffering lets out this great lament then surely theHoly Spirit is still there, still dwelling in him and experiencingthis grief with him. In other words, when we suffer then, throughthe indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God suffers too. If God knowsabout suffering, and especially my suffering then it would bedeceitful to not share it with God.

So maybe we should have more services where we use the lamentsin Scripture, and perhaps we need to write our own laments?

To Ponder

  • How do you feel about the idea that God suffers with you?
  • Have there been times when it would have been helpful to have alament in worship? How would it have felt? How might it havehelped?
  • A big one: How might the idea of God suffering in/with Jesus onthe cross influence our understanding of why there is suffering inthe world and how we can cope with it?

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