This psalm is number 5 of what is called the seven Penitential Psalms. (Along with 6, 32, 38, 51, 130 and 143.) The Penitential Psalms usually confess sin, but they can also ultimately testify to the grace of God.
This is a psalm of lament. A psalm of crying out to God about current circumstances. It is an appeal for help from the Creator of all the world. This psalm was written when the Hebrew people were in exile, in other words, the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed by the army of Babylon. When have you felt exiled? When have you felt like you were abandoned? Have you ever felt like God was hiding his face from you?
We hear the psalmist in the depths of despair and then we hear this idea carried farther in that the psalmist cannot even sleep. When is the last time you stayed awake worrying about your situation?
But even in exile, God is the one in whom the psalmist finds hope and strength. God is present and remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This conviction comes because God is the one who reigns, and even in the depths of despair the writer acknowledges the faithfulness of God.”You Lord are enthroned forever, you will have compassion on Zion.”The writer believes that God will respond to the desperate prayers of the destitute and God is present. Even in despair, the future can be entrusted to God.
In spite of the writer’s desperate circumstances, the writer declares the name of the Lord must be praised. We are reminded, that we are to tell future generations about the Lord. That future generations must be told about God so that those who are not yet created may praise the Lord. Can we praise God even when we are in the depths of despair?