Calvary Psalms: Communal Lament
One of our greatest disadvantages in reading the Bible is the most basic assumption we have about ourselves from our culture that stands at odds with the most basic assumption that the Scriptures have about human personhood. We assume – ever since Descartes – that we are essentially individual, that relationships are an add-on, a plus (or minus) to who we are. The Scriptures work with an assumption that human beings are essential in solidarity, that we cannot understand ourselves apart from our relationships with others; our relationships are integral to our being. As the poet John Donne said (Meditation XVII),
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Our basic solidarity with one another is from our solidarity with our “head.” In Psalm 89, a communal lament, most of the Psalm is given to speaking of the relationship of the LORD to David, the one He chose to be king of His people. The main way the people know the steadfast love and faithfulness of the LORD to them is that they see the way He relates in steadfast love and faithfulness to the king. What happens to the king, happens to the people (and, secondarily, what happens to the people happens to the king.)
How about that?! You will know most confidently and most securely the love of God for you when you know that the Father is steadfast and faithful in His love for His Son. The thing that really settles our hearts is the revelation that God has raised His Son from death (which he went into in solidarity with us) and lifted him up to sit with Him (where he goes in solidarity with us) in the heavenly places. When you see that, you will be able to have an unshakeable confidence in the love of God for you.
This psalm is a lament – and so whilst the solidarity is unshakeable, our hearts are often shaken by the experiences of life which seem to speak against that steadfast and faithful love of God. But “…whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts…” (1 John 3:21.) The “self-talk” of the believer is never about the believer – our self-talk is most effective when we tell ourselves what God has done for His Son, for what He has done for Him is what is done for all of us.