Viva La Vida

Lamentations 1:1
Once the queen of all the earth, she is now a slave (v.1).

With lush orchestral chord progressions and an
infectious melody, Coldplay’s Viva la Vida
grabbed Song of the Year honors at the
2009 Grammys. That title, which means “long live life,”
conveys a bitter irony. The protagonist depicted in the
lyrics had held immense power but now was dealing
with a reversal of fortunes. “I used to rule the world,” the
words state, but now I “sweep the streets I used to own.”

Lamentations is a bitter song about Jerusalem’s reversal
of fortunes—“the queen of all the earth, she is now a
slave” (1:1). Besieged, then slaughtered by the brutal
Babylonian armies, the city’s horrifyingly desperate
circumstances had even induced mothers to cannibalize
their own children (2:20, 4:10). Jerusalem’s devastation
was God’s clear judgment for the sins of the people.
To the grief-dimmed eyes of the poet, God’s salvation
seemed almost impossibly distant. Almost.

Lamentations concludes with a curious, bittersweet
blend of hope and grief, doubt and faith. “Lord, You
remain the same forever! . . . Restore us, O Lord, and
bring us back to You again!” (5:19-21). Yet the book ends
with a hauntingly tentative question: “Are You angry with
us still?” (v.22).

Thankfully, the dirge of judgment is not the only song in
God’s Word. “I will sing a new song to You, O God,” said
the psalmist (Psalm 144:9). And the New Testament infuses
our new song with this triumphant declaration: “Now there is no condemnation for
those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “The power of the life-giving Spirit
has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (v.2).

The song we sing today is often discordant. In eternity, however, it will be
indescribably lush, pure, exhilarating, and joyous. Viva la vida.

—Tim Gustafson

What is the context of the new song Isaiah urges his people to sing?
(Isaiah 42:8). Why was the Lord jealous? (v.8).

How would you describe your life’s song? How can your song help you
be honest before your Creator?