Psalm 88

A Song. A Psalm by the sons of Korah. For the Chief Musician. To the tune of “The Suffering of Affliction.” A contemplation by Heman, the Ezrahite.
1 LORD, the God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you. 2 Let my prayer enter into your presence. Turn your ear to my cry. 3 For my soul is full of troubles. My life draws near to Sheol. 4 I am counted amongst those who go down into the pit. I am like a man who has no help, 5 set apart amongst the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more. They are cut off from your hand. 6 You have laid me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. 7 Your wrath lies heavily on me. You have afflicted me with all your waves. Selah. 8 You have taken my friends from me. You have made me an abomination to them. I am confined, and I can’t escape. 9 My eyes are dim from grief. I have called on you daily, LORD. I have spread out my hands to you. 10 Do you show wonders to the dead? Do the departed spirits rise up and praise you? Selah. 11 Is your loving kindness declared in the grave? Or your faithfulness in destruction? 12 Are your wonders made known in the dark? Or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? 13 But to you, LORD, I have cried. In the morning, my prayer comes before you. 14 LORD, why do you reject my soul? Why do you hide your face from me? 15 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up. While I suffer your terrors, I am distracted. 16 Your fierce wrath has gone over me. Your terrors have cut me off. 17 They came around me like water all day long. They completely engulfed me. 18 You have put lover and friend far from me, and my friends into darkness.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–9

The first words of the psalmist are the only words of comfort and support in this psalm. Thus greatly may good men be afflicted, and such dismal thoughts may they have about their afflictions, and such dark conclusion may they make about their end, through the power of melancholy and the weakness of faith. He complained most of God’s displeasure. Even the children of God’s love may sometimes think themselves children of wrath and no outward trouble can be so hard upon them as that. Probably the psalmist described his own case, yet he leads to Christ. Thus are we called to look unto Jesus, wounded and bruised for our iniquities. But the wrath of God poured the greatest bitterness into his cup. This weighed him down into darkness and the deep.

Verses 10–18

Departed souls may declare God’s faithfulness, justice, and lovingkindness; but deceased bodies can neither receive God’s favours in comfort, nor return them in praise. The psalmist resolved to continue in prayer, and the more so, because deliverance did not come speedily. Though our prayers are not soon answered, yet we must not give over praying. The greater our troubles, the more earnest and serious we should be in prayer. Nothing grieves a child of God so much as losing sight of him; nor is there any thing he so much dreads as God’s casting off his soul. If the sun be clouded, that darkens the earth; but if the sun should leave the earth, what a dungeon would it be! Even those designed for God’s favours, may for a time suffer his terrors. See how deep those terrors wounded the psalmist. If friends are put far from us by providences, or death, we have reason to look upon it as affliction. Such was the calamitous state of a good man. But the pleas here used were peculiarly suited to Christ. And we are not to think that the holy Jesus suffered for us only at Gethsemane and on Calvary. His whole life was labour and sorrow; he was afflicted as never man was, from his youth up. He was prepared for that death of which he tasted through life. No man could share in the sufferings by which other men were to be redeemed. All forsook him, and fled. Oftentimes, blessed Jesus, do we forsake thee; but do not forsake us, O take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

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