Psalm 88

Psalm 88

I Cry Out Day and Night Before You

A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

88   O LORD, God of my salvation,
    I cry out day and night before you.
  Let my prayer come before you;
    incline your ear to my cry!
  For my soul is full of troubles,
    and my life draws near to Sheol.
  I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am a man who has no strength,
  like one set loose among the dead,
    like the slain that lie in the grave,
  like those whom you remember no more,
    for they are cut off from your hand.
  You have put me in the depths of the pit,
    in the regions dark and deep.
  Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
    and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah
  You have caused my companions to shun me;
    you have made me a horror to them.
  I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
    my eye grows dim through sorrow.
  Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
    I spread out my hands to you.
  Do you work wonders for the dead?
    Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
  Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
  Are your wonders known in the darkness,
    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
  But I, O LORD, cry to you;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
  O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
    Why do you hide your face from me?
  Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
    I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
  Your wrath has swept over me;
    your dreadful assaults destroy me.
  They surround me like a flood all day long;
    they close in on me together.
  You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
    my companions have become darkness.


Psalm 88 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Psalm 88 will most likely not be made into a children’s song one day. It’s too raw. In fact, I would go as far as to say it makes people uncomfortable. It treads unashamedly into our darkest emotions. It dances on the boundary of sanity. It even explores ideas that conflict with everything we learned about God in Sunday School.

We learned at a young age that God loves us and will always give us what’s best. For the psalmist, it seems this is not his reality.

You have put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the depths.  7  Your wrath has rested upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah.

Psalms 88:6-7 NASB

O LORD, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?  15  I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on; I suffer Your terrors; I am overcome.

Psalms 88:14-15 NASB

How did these thoughts make it into Scripture? Some would be quick to dismiss the entire chapter as delusional and emotional. Obviously, the psalmist is in a life-or-death situation and not thinking clearly. But, isn’t that our reality? Who hasn’t questioned God’s plan in their life? Who hasn’t cried out to Him wondering if He is still there? It seems to me that anyone who can’t relate to this psalm must be the delusional one. Either they have compartmentalized their emotions or they are simply lying.

This psalm teaches us a lot. It shows us how our precious memories of good times with good people are absolutely made possible by the mercy of God. Look at your spouse, or your children, or your best friend. They won’t be there forever. One day, things will change, and emotions will go into overload. You may question God, and question His plan, and question His love. You may wander away for a time. It’s not right, but it’s human, and we’ve all done it.

These types of feelings are recorded as Scripture. God allowed them to be written about Him so that people like us would one day read them and identify with them. That alone demonstrates His perfect love for us. The hard truth is that people suffer, and violence runs rampant, and in our human minds, there are times when we simply cannot make sense of it. Sometimes we wonder, what is God waiting for? Where has He gone? He does not condemn these conversations where we inquire about things too big for us to understand. No, instead, He records them in His Bible because He wants us to know they are heard.

We serve a God who demonstrated His love for us. We only need to look at the cross. On my hardest days and deepest emotions, I can never walk away from His love. It’s relentless. It’s crazy. It’s irresistible.

God, I don’t need to understand, I just need your love. In the discrepancy of my human understanding, I place my trust in Christ alone.

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