But unto thee, O Jehovah, have I cried; And in the morning shall my prayer come before thee.
Jehovah, why castest thou off my soul?
Why hidest thou thy face from me?
I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
Thy fierce wrath is gone over me; Thy terrors have cut me off.
They came round about me like water all the day long;
They compassed me about together.
Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, And mine acquaintance into darkness.Psalms 88:13-18 ASV
Although the psalmist’s distress has reached critical proportions, his faith in God greets each new day with prayer, in spite of the fact that he is perplexed by God’s purposes as seen in his life.
That is the glory of this ancient Saint.
What a contrast is he with those persons who, signally blessed of God, and passing through life with large measures of success, and with practically no suffering of any kind, but who never worship God and never pray!
“Why hidest thou thy face?” (Psalms 88:14).
The most sorrowful thing about this psalm is that the psalmist has no sense of feeling that God has answered his prayers, or even heard them.
In whatever direction the psalmist looks, he sees only blackness and despair.
Looking backward at the past, he sees nothing but health and fortune (Psalms 88:15).
Looking unto God he is terrified (Psalms 88:15b-17).
Looking for human comfort, he can see no one at all (Psalms 88:18).
“Lover and friend hast thou put far from me” (Psalms 88:18).
This is another line that would be extremely difficult to apply to the nation of Israel; but it seems appropriate enough if referred to the desertion of a leper by his family and friends.
“And mine acquaintance into darkness” (Psalms 88:18).
We should read this as, “Darkness is my one companion left.
“Darkness” (Psalms 88:18).
What an awful word with which to close a psalm; and yet it is admittedly very apt and appropriate for a psalm like this.
Truly, this Old Testament saint can be our master and teacher.
What, really, is the roll of this psalm in Scripture? and we are indebted to him for some of the thoughts we have paraphrased here in our own efforts to assess the meaning of this psalm for Christians today.
(1) This psalm reveals the truth that Christians may sometimes be subjected to the most unrelenting and terrible misfortunes in passing through this earthly life.
It happened to Job; it happened to this psalmist; and it can happen to any child of God.
(2) There is the lesson of this psalm that no matter how discouraging and terrible one’s lot in life may be, he should not fail to lay the matter before the Lord in prayer.
God always answers the prayers of his saints, even if their specific requests must be denied, as in the case of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.”
(3) Our lives upon earth are only a moment compared to the ceaseless ages of eternity; and our attitude during the very worst of experiences should be the same as that of Job, who cried, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15).