Psalm 88

1650 psalter

The sorrowful day and night of the Man of Sorrows

This is one of the saddest psalms in the Psalter. It is full of sorrow and, as such, many of its verses are applicable to the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief.

There is no sense of God’s presence to the soul of the plaintiff. Darkness surrounded him, and invaded him, and it was as if the grave itself was his abode. One of the grieving and solitary aspects of his experience that he remarked twice upon, was that his friends and acquaintances had withdrawn from Him. And that was a bitter cup to drink, and drink it Christ had to.

The only hopeful chord that is struck in this dirge is the stubborn belief of faith, which cries, “O Lord God of my salvation.” Faith will cling to its Giver, even in the darkest hour, and faith will continue to pray.

Pastor Jeff O’ Neil

Recommended Tune: St Kilda

St Kilda

Psalm 88

¹LORD God, my Saviour, day and night
Before thee cried have I.
²Before thee let my prayer come;
Give ear unto my cry.

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

⁵Ev’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.

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

⁸Thou 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.

⁹By reason of affliction
Mine eye mourns dolefully:
To thee, LORD, do I call, and stretch
My hands continually.

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

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

¹³But, LORD, to thee I cried; my pray’r
At morn prevent shall thee.
¹⁴Why, LORD, dost thou cast off my soul,
And hid’st thy face from me?

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

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

¹⁷For round about me ev’ry day,
Like water, they did roll;
And, gathering together, they
Have compassed my soul.

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