Psalm 88

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Psalm 88
A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.
In this doleful psalm, after a very short declaration of his faith, we have, (1.) Heman's bitter wailing over his distressed case, that his troubles were great; his body at the point of death; his soul filled with grief; his God hiding and angry; his mind distressed with terrors; and his friends unkind, ver. 3-9, 14-18. (2.) His bitter groans to, and expostulations with God, importing, that he had long cried for mercy, and that in death nothing could be done for him, etc., ver. 1-2, 9-14.

While I sing, let me think how dreadful hell must be, when even fatherly chastisements are so severe; how dreadful the enormity of sin, which provokes God so grievously to afflict his dearest favourites; and how necessary it is to retain our faith of our relation to God, amidst the worst of troubles.

1 Lord God, my Saviour, day and night
before thee cry'd have I.
2 Before thee let my prayer come;
give ear unto my cry.

3 For troubles great do fill my soul;
my life draws nigh the grave.
4 I'm counted with those that go down
to pit, and no strength have.

5 Ev'n free among the dead, like them
that slain in grave do lie;
Cut off from thy hand, whom no more
thou hast in memory.

6 Thou hast me laid in lowest pit,
in deeps and darksome caves.
7 Thy wrath lies hard on me, thou hast
me press'd with all thy waves.

8 Thou hast put far from me my friends,
thou mad'st them to abhor me;
And I am so shut up, that I
find no evasion for me.

9 By reason of affliction
mine eye mourns dolefully:
To thee, Lord, do I call, and stretch
my hands continually.

10 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead?
shall they rise, and thee bless?
11 Shall in the grave thy love be told?
in death thy faithfulness?

12 Shall thy great wonders in the dark,
or shall thy righteousness
Be known to any in the land
of deep forgetfulness?

13 But, Lord, to thee I cry'd; my pray'r
at morn prevent shall thee.
14 Why, Lord, dost thou cast off my soul,
and hid'st thy face from me?

15 Distress'd am I, and from my youth
I ready am to die;
Thy terrors I have borne, and am
distracted fearfully.

16 The dreadful fierceness of thy wrath
quite over me doth go:
Thy terrors great have cut me off,
they did pursue me so.

17 For round about me ev'ry day,
like water, they did roll;
And, gathering together, they
have compassed my soul.

18 My friends thou hast put far from me,
and him that did me love;
And those that mine acquaintance were
to darkness didst remove.
Henry Law:


Sounds of bitter grief wail through this Psalm. We hear the mourning of a wounded spirit. All earthly refuge is shunned; help only is in God.

Ps 88:1-2

This Psalm is received as the wailing of Heman the son of Zerah. He was illustrious among men for mental gifts. Solomon scarcely exceeded him in wisdom. But under sense of sin he did not find relief in intellect. He flies to God, and pours out his heart in prayer. The whole strain is misery at its full. There is but one word of comfort. He calls upon God, as the God of his salvation. Grasping the plank of saving grace, he could not sink. Let us learn the happy art of wrestling with God, in like spirit of supporting faith.

Ps 88:3-5

His soul is faint through excess of anguish. All vital power seems to be extinct. He regards himself as utterly cut off from life, and as now moldering in the grave. So terrible was his grief that he speaks of himself as already an inmate of the tomb.

Ps 88:6-7

Misery sighs in deeper notes. He mourns as now separated from God. He wails as though lying in the very pit"”amid all blackness of darkness"”in the uttermost depths. Can misery be more miserable! Let us look up to Jesus. He has delivered us from all wrath.

Ps 88:8-9

Troubles lose much of their burden, when loving friends are near to solace. This comfort was denied to Heman. Alone he mourned. Such too was the lonely state of our beloved Lord. All His friends forsook Him and fled. Prayer will bring Jesus to our side. We may plead His promise, I will never leave Thee, nor forsake Thee.

Ps 88:10-12

The plea is urged, that relief delayed may be too late. When we lie down in the grave, we can no more show forth God's praise, or spread abroad His wonders. While life continues, let us strive to magnify Him, before all our powers are silent in the grave.

Ps 88:13-14

While we have life let it be prayer. This grace will prevail. Let the earliest dawn witness our supplications. Let our cry be the first utterance which reaches God. Let us thus seek to learn why He is absent from us, and why His smile no longer cheers.

Ps 88:15-18

Fearful is this picture of a soul agonizing under a sense of God's withdrawal. What must be the misery of those realms, into which hope never comes! Let us strive to look off from sin's deserts, to the boundless merits of the dying Savior. He verily redeems from all iniquity. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Let us flee to Him. Let us cling to Him. Let us rejoice in Him. Sheltered in Him we cannot be exposed to wrath. There is redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of our sins. O Jesus! we bless Thee, we adore Thee!

I rejoice to see you back here on the Daily Devotional forum with these metrical Psalm postings. A while back you had encouraged me to post here as well, and in the meantime Andrew has been a faithful supporter.
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