Lent and Lament – Psalm 31b

One essential soul-tending tool might be to practice lament.

In the six weeks or so leading up to Easter, Christians worldwide participate in Lent. It’s a season for believers to take inventory of their spiritual lives. Perhaps a spring cleaning with some lament thrown in for good measure. Some choose to give something up as a way to remember Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice. Others take on specific disciplines like spending more time in prayer, reading through certain portions of scripture, or attending special church services designed to mark the season.

Taking time to lament our personal and corporate sins can be a central part of Lent. Some people even pray about what they have done and what they have left undone.

In the second half of Psalm 31, the psalmist takes an inventory of sorts. Take a few minutes today to participate in personal lament by reading each verse and considering these things.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand: rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!
(Psalm 31:14-16 ESV)

Words said aloud

What we say matters.

What we speak aloud seeps into our bones and shapes our thinking.  

The Psalmist begins with a declaration, “I say, ‘You are my God.’”
He follows this with a cry for the Lord to “Make your face shine on your servant…”. This refers back to the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26.  

As human beings, we were all made to crave being in our Heavenly Father’s presence and having His approval. It is in our original design. Many of us will spend a lifetime trying to please God in our strength. Sadly, we will fail and fail again without accepting Jesus as the only way to our Father.

What can you say aloud to build you up and encourage your spiritual growth?

  • Sing Christian hymns or songs  
  • Read the Bible aloud for a few minutes every day
  • Pray aloud in the car or on a walk using the promises of scripture
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame;
    let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them, from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
(Psalm 31:17-20 ESV)

Words heard

What we listen to matters.

The Psalmist begs the Lord to mute lying lips. He requests that the wicked go silently to Sheol. What we listen to affects us more than we realize. Other peoples’ words have the power to weigh us down and teach us things that are not true. We live in a noisy world and can become surrounded by deceptive soundtracks.

Taking time to seek out silence each day can counter the inevitable feelings of overwhelm.

What can you listen to build yourself up spiritually?

  • Refrain from listening to the radio or a podcast during your drive time, and enjoy the silence.
  • Reduce the number of news programs you watch or listen to. Practice extreme discernment on your news sources. Do the anchor people seem angry or prideful?
  • Commit to listening to God’s word daily, even for a few minutes. Please read it to yourself aloud or listen to any of the podcasts or services that read scripture daily. In less than 20 minutes daily, I have listened to the entire Bible in one year.
21 Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. 
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
(Psalm 31:21-24 ESV)

Things that were done and left undone

Have you asked for help lately?

Asking for help requires a certain level of humility and vulnerability. Too often, I am more ready to problem-solve than cry out to God for help.

He hears us and is so ready to send us aid.

In verse 23, the psalmist calls out the “one who acts in pride.” She might be someone who relies on her strength, leans on her courage, and requires her own schedule to be kept.

The Lord calls us to be found waiting for Him. Waiting for Him to answer us, aid us, and make provision. Do I sometimes miss His ideal solution because I have tried to run ahead and make my own way?

The Lord calls us to “take courage” as we wait on Him because He is willing to give it to all of us.


Lord, thank you that you hear my cries for help and always answer. Please help me to wait on your way and your timing. Please help me to complete the assignments you have given to me. Please open my eyes to things I may lose sight of that are essential to you.  May I glorify you with the words I say? May I honor you with what I listen to? Please give me wisdom and discernment in all of these areas. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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