A sacred song that draws on the troubled waters of our soul. It sails upon the dark, roaring dense storms that awaken the heavy groans of the human soul. Like the slender feeble hook of the fisherman’s fishing line that is caught in the mouth of a whale, our bodies hunch over in distress and in agony. Words confounded and suppressed. Unuttered. Not a sound heard. Only the pain. The terrible strain upon our souls. An internal torment that daggers through our subconscious and pierces our body with spasms.
We may convulse with anger or with frustration. Not being able to contain the bouts and fits of rage incensed by our pain. Our struggle. An inward suffering. A soreness so deep that our feeble human nature was not designed to enjoy but abhor. And when we cannot cry, nor moan or groan. When we cannot speak, for the weight of our thoughts make it impossible for our tongues to move. Our mouths are dry like a withering stream, patched by the sun and caked by the elements.
When sorrow is all you can feel, when pain has ceased you and forced upon you a fellowship with its companions. When wisdom hides his face and love won’t lift her chin for you to find even the slightest hint of hope. When peace evades you and anger raves and roars inside of you. When sin is lurking at the door; slithering, hissing, waiting… waiting for the slightest crack in the fence. Waiting to bite. Waiting to go for the kill. When sin is waiting to strike… and like a wounded soldier your shield is down…
Only then, from the wars within your soul, will the Psalm of distress arise. A cry for help. A call for salvation. A lamentation for solace. You cry out to the watchman. You plead for refuge in his stronghold. You beg for the gates to be opened. Less your feeble, weary soul, your broken spirit, and your wounded body are forever consumed by the fires of impending danger; by the fires of your fury. An outrage that spews from self-defeat, of not being able to contain one’s own conflicts. When our natural strengths fail us, the distress Psalm comes to our aid.
It is not the Psalm of David. Neither is it the Psalm of Asaph. Nor is it the Psalm of Bukkie. The distress Psalm is personal; a private and exclusive experience between you, the abyss within your soul, and God. When you know real pain, (‘know’ being to have intimacy with…) then, and only then will you bring forth your own Psalm. When you do, keep them. Preserve them. But for the Psalms of David, if they were never preserved or were never even written, we wouldn’t have them.
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord