Easy Read Study Bible                                           Front Page


(Return to Old Testament Contents)


FRAMEWORKS: Psa 88: The Cry of the Suffering


A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For the director of music. According to mahalath leannoth. A maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.


[Preliminary Comments: The sense of this psalm is that it comes from one who has been ill since his earliest days [v.15], who has suffered throughout the years, an illness that takes him to the brink of death [v.3-5]. Because he accepts the sovereignty of God, he attributes all this to the Lord [v.6-9], an illness that has cut him off even from would-be friends [v.15-18]. This is the basic background that emerges here. The rest of the psalm is the psalmist pleading with the Lord [v.1,2], crying out, what good will my death achieve [v.9-12] and although he pleads every day, it is as if the Lord has rejected him [v.13,14]. A psalm of anguish in suffering, the title of which suggests is comes from a man named Heman.]



v.1,2 The psalmist cries out to the Lord


v.1  Lord, you are the God who saves me;
     day and night I cry out to you.
v.2  May my prayer come before you;
     turn your ear to my cry.


v.3-5 He feels he is approaching death


v.3  I am overwhelmed with troubles
     and my life draws near to death.
v.4  I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
     I am like one without strength.
v.5  I am set apart with the dead,
     like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
     who are cut off from your care.


v.6-9a He attributes this to the Lord


v.6  You have put me in the lowest pit,
     in the darkest depths.
v.7  Your wrath lies heavily on me;
     you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
v.8   You have taken from me my closest friends
     and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
v.9  my eyes are dim with grief.


v.9b-12 He appeals to the Lord, what's the point of his death?


I call to you, Lord , every day;  I spread out my hands to you.
v.10  Do you show your wonders to the dead?
     Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
v.11  Is your love declared in the grave,
     your faithfulness in Destruction?
v.12  Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
     or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?


v.13,14 He pleads with the Lord not to reject him


v.13  But I cry to you for help, Lord ;
     in the morning my prayer comes before you.
v.14  Why, Lord , do you reject me
     and hide your face from me?


v.15-18 He feels his whole life has been one of suffering


v.15  From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
     I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
v.16  Your wrath has swept over me;
     your terrors have destroyed me.
v.17  All day long they surround me like a flood;
     they have completely engulfed me.
v.18  You have taken from me friend and neighbour 
     darkness is my closest friend.



[Additional Comments: The Bible is not afraid to portray the difficulties of life in this fallen world and suffering and illness are such examples. The psalm does not seek to explain them, merely to note the anguish they bring. We have to wait until the New Testament to see God's heart revealed through His Son, Jesus, who was often moved by compassion to heal the sick. Healings by God do occur a number of times in both Old and New Testaments.]



Continue to Psa 89