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Psalm Eighty Eight

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.

Maschil. This Maschil psalm is the only psalm attributed to Heman the Ezrahite, probably a descendant of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:6). The term Mahalath-Leonnoth is uncertain but possibly means something like “A Song of Lamentation.”

Psalm 88:1 O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:

cried day and night. The theme of Psalm 88 is one of unbroken lament, with only the fact that the psalmist could still pray (Psalm 88:2, 9) to the “Lord God of my salvation” (Psalm 88:1) mitigating the pervasive note of despair. Yet Heman, the author, was reputed to be a man of wisdom (1 Kings 4:31).

Psalm 88:2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;

Psalm 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.

Psalm 88:4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:

Psalm 88:5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.

Psalm 88:6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.

Psalm 88:7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah

Psalm 88:8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.

Psalm 88:9 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.

Psalm 88:10 Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah

Psalm 88:11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?

in destruction. In this verse, “the grave” is the Hebrew sheol, and “destruction” is abaddon, both terms denoting the prison of the dead deep in the earth.

Psalm 88:12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

Psalm 88:13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

Psalm 88:14 LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?

hidest thou thy face. The clue to the unrelenting tone of despair of the psalm is that it is probably a Messianic psalm, depicting the anguish of heart and soul of the Messiah when His Father had apparently forsaken Him on the cross (Matthew 27:46).

Psalm 88:15 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.

from my youth up. Assuming this indeed to be a Messianic psalm, this verse gives an insight into the opposition suffered by Christ even as he was growing up—a subject hardly touched on in the New Testament records of His life.

Psalm 88:16 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.

Psalm 88:17 They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.

Psalm 88:18 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.