What is there about song and singing that resonates with us when we’re grief-stricken? I think about the many moving spirituals, composed and sung by enslaved persons in the milieu of death and loss. They plumbed a depth of devastation that mere spoken words could not reach. I also think of that entire genre of popular music called the Blues, popular because heartache is never far away. There is just something about a fittingly sad tone or a minor key that vibrates on the same frequency as the burdened soul, massaging the aching psyche.
The creativity within King David rises up to do the one thing sure to express the raw emotion in the pit of his stomach. The warrior king is standing in the need of prayer; so the psalmist king steps forward to do the only thing that will express this raging torrent of complicated grief. At this moment the grief does not need to be tempered or tamed; it needs fulsome expression. Anger needs an outlet. Despair needs ventilation. Sorrow needs a conduit. Rage could use a playlist.
Certain shared social norms sometimes require that we tone down grief. But some of us cannot live with the pent-up burden of sorrow. Is there in our musical storehouse a hymn, a poem, a dirge, a lament through which we can wail, cry, groan, or moan as we attend to the trouble in our souls? A stiff upper lip may be good for appearances, but it does not heal the soul. David pours out his heart in this Song of the Bow. I invite you to pause with me as we think about our individual outlets for deep sorrow and loss.
Someone’s praying, Lord. kum ba yah. Someone’s crying, Lord, kum ba yah. Oh, Lord, kum ba yah! (UMH, no. 494).
David is remembered in scripture as a mighty king but also as a great poet. Many of the Psalms are ascribed to him. In Second Samuel we find a song of lament over Saul and Jonathan. Saul was violently jealous of David, yet David still honored Saul as God’s anointed king. Jonathan was David’s best friend. David bemoans Israel’s loss of these leaders. The author of Psalm 130, although probably not David, appeals to God in David-like fashion. The Gospel shows the power of a woman’s faith. In Second Corinthians, Paul deals with practical matters, appealing to the Corinthians to send promised financial help to the believers in Jerusalem.
Read 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27. What part does music play in your prayer life? Do you sing both songs of lament and songs of praise?
Read Psalm 130. When have you cried out to God from the depths of your despair? What was God’s response?
Read 2 Corinthians 8:7-15. How do you maintain your eagerness to practice your faith?
Read Mark 5:21-43. What has been your experience of God’s healing?
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