Reality, remembrance, and response : the presence and absence of God in the psalms of lament
This study explores the ways in which Israel understood Yahweh to be present by focusing on those psalms of lament which report that God is silent, absent, or hidden and which present him with memories of his presence to save. The study begins by examining the use of memory recitals of Yahweh's creation, the exodus experience of Israel, and the personal experiences of the writer as the primary resources for approaching God in the psalms of lament. Special attention is given to the tension created by the psalmist between the present experience of God's absence and memories of his presence to save. This is then followed by a survey of current writings on God's presence and absence. Next, the study explores issues in Psalms research which relate to the theme of God's presence and absence as it is expressed in the Psalms. Attention is given to the problem of speaking of God acting in human history and to the debate over whether the Psalms have their origin and use primarily in the cultic setting or in the private lives of the community. Also, various understandings of the experiences of presence and absence are considered. This is followed by an exegetical study of seven psalms, with particular attention being given to the tension between experienced absence and remembered presence, the move from lament to praise, and the response to God's salvation of offering testimony before the great assembly. The final part of the study explores the psalmist's use of experiences of reality, memory, testimony, and story as a means of approaching God in the silence in light of the preceding exegetical study.