“Cycle of Orientation”

And here we are at the end. Has it been four weeks already? We just finished Exposed: the Psalms after looking at four different types of Psalm: praise, lament, trust, and thanksgiving. If you missed a week, make sure you check our website for the sermons from each week.


One of the amazing things which happens in the Psalms is something I like to call “The Cycle of Orientation” (based from Walter Brueggemann’s book The Message of the Psalms). Dave spoke about how the Psalms could be broken down by genre, a la iTunes, but they can also be broken down by their function in the life of faith. There are Psalms which “orient” our faith (Psalms of Orientation), Psalms which “disorient” our faith (Psalms of Disorientation), and Psalms which “reorient” (Psalms of…you guessed it Reorientation).

Psalms of Orientation give us something our faith can stand firm. Think of Psalm 113, the first Psalm of our sermon series, which tells us that God lifts up the lowly and proclaims no one is like our God. Our faith can stand firm on this.

Psalms of Disorientation call those orienting claims into question. Psalm 69, our Psalm of Lament, is one of these psalms which proclaim the writer/prayer has lived a faithful life, but things are not what they should be. People are hurting him, life is not easy, and he feels God has abandoned him. Disorientation happens when life is hard and unexpectantly so, and these songs are the result.

Psalms of Reorientation are the songs sung after the Psalmist has been delivered from the storm. They are the response to the disorientation of life. Our last two Psalms, 27 and 40, are such songs. Life is back to being good and it is God who has done it. Our life and our faith are reoriented because of the action of God.

Through the Psalms, we are given a cycle of faith: orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. Throughout life, we experience these feelings at some point and we continue to go through the cycle. It is not stagnant. We do not stay in the same place forever, but we can remember that just as the seasons of the earth pass, so do these seasons of the faith. And God will be with us every step of the way.

Praise the LORD. Praise the Name of the LORD. Praise the LORD.


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