Psalms 88:1 - 18
For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.
A song to be sung to the tune “The Suffering of Affliction.”
A psalm of Heman the Ezrahite.
O LORD, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left. They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from your care. You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave you have engulfed me. Interlude
You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape. My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to you for mercy. Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise you? Interlude
Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love? Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness? O LORD, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day. O LORD, why do you reject me? Why do you turn your face from me? I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors. Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me. They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have engulfed me completely. You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend. (NLT)
If contemporary worship gurus actually wrote hymns these days, this one would never make anybody’s list. This song even has choir notes…sing it to the suffering tune. In today’s culture worship songs require “happy and up-beat”. Not so in Psalm 88!
With the exception of the first 6 words (O Lord, God of my salvation) the Psalm is pure lament (whining, if you will), the flood of an anguished soul. Some would make much of the “honesty before God” nature of this prayer, and that’s a needful thing when you’re praying. But this person is laying-out the miserable conditions of his life and, standing in the death of his emptiness, demanding an answer, Can the darkness speak? Give me a little light on the subject, here, God! What’s up with this life of mine?
Have you ever laid it out there for God to speak out of the darkness of your existence? If you haven’t, or at least if your personal lament hasn’t been quite as gruesome as Psalm 88, let Scripture remind us today that the worst possible scenario has already been center stage for God’s answers.
The people which sat in darkness saw great light;
and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Matthew 4:16 (KJV)
Matthew ties the life of Jesus to Isaiah’s prophecy that a great light – God’s light on a dark world – would come to cover even the shadow of death.
While we remember that Jesus came to bring light and life, sometimes our personal darkness is so overwhelming. Can that darkness we face really speak? Does it say anything worthwhile? Does it have meaning?
Do you recall the man who asked Jesus to heal his son?Mark 9 Jesus brought up the issue of faith to a man facing the darkness of losing his child. The man said, I believe…help me out of my unbelief. Sometimes the greatest darkness is meant to frame the light we’ve been missing; it comes to display our unbelief and the pathway home to faith.
Father, in this day there may be darkness ahead. When I’m stumbling around let faith light whichever pathway brings me to you.