Psalm 54: A Lament

Have you ever been in a situation where you have felt helpless before outside forces over which you have no control? If you don’t think you have, I would suggest you think again. All of us are subject to forces outside of our control. There are many that we may not be aware of, yet they are affecting us nevertheless. Whether we realize it or not, we are being affected by decisions being made in government chambers, boardrooms, and terrorists cells far from our home.

For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to straighten out some prescriptions for my stepfather. Released from the hospital with a stack of six prescriptions, I obediently took them to the pharmacy. Four of the prescriptions were no problem but two, I’ve yet to get.

First, they were not covered by Medicare A but Medicare B, requiring additional paperwork that I had to fill out and have him sign. Then the diagnosis wasn’t coded right for insurance to cover it. The pharmacy contacted the hospital about changing the code but when that didn’t happen I was told I had to have his primary care physician write out a new prescription with the correct code. Once that was done the prescription kept being bounced back between Medicare B and Medicare Advantage, with each insisting the other was supposed to cover this. And then I was told that one of the prescriptions required prior authorization from the doctor.

Suffice it to say it has now been two weeks since he was released from the hospital and he still doesn’t have these two prescriptions. Fortunately he is able to get by while the powers that be play out this bureaucratic game. This has not been the case for many veterans at the mercy of a mismanaged Veteran’s Administration.

Such is the situation of the writer of Psalm 54. It is a simple, individual, lament. Such laments make up about one third of the Psalter. It consists of four parts, an appeal, “Save me, O God . .  . Hear my prayer” (1-2), complaint, “For insolent men have risen against me” (3), petition, “He will requite my enemies with evil” (4-5) and a vow, “With a free will offering I will sacrifice to thee” (6-7). We know little about the circumstances of this lament. It is attributed to David during the time he was hiding from King Saul who sought to kill him but it lacks the emotional intensity typical of David. The psalm states the case of being in a situation where there is no hope unless God intervenes.

We all have circumstances in our life over which we have no control. This psalm is for all of those times. The prevalence of these psalms of lament in the book of Psalms testifies to the universality of this condition. Fortunately though, we have another force operating in our world that is benevolent and stronger than all of these other powers, a force for good.

Laments are there for us during such times when all we can do is cry out to our God in our frustration, anger and pain, and know that our God listens.

Have you had similar experiences? I would love to hear from you!

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