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88. Psalm 88

O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:

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

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

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

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

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

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

8Thou 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.

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

10Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.

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

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

13But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

14Lord, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?

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

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

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

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

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Ps 88:1-18. Upon Mahalath—either an instrument, as a lute, to be used as an accompaniment (Leannoth, "for singing") or, as others think, an enigmatic title (see on Ps 5:1, Ps 22:1, and Ps 45:1, titles), denoting the subject—that is, "sickness or disease, for humbling," the idea of spiritual maladies being often represented by disease (compare Ps 6:5, 6; 22:14, 15, &c.). On the other terms, see on Ps 42:1 and Ps 32:1. Heman and Ethan (see on Ps 89:1, title) were David's singers (1Ch 6:18, 33; 15:17), of the family of Kohath. If the persons alluded to (1Ki 4:31; 1Ch 2:6), they were probably adopted into the tribe of Judah. Though called a song, which usually implies joy (Ps 83:1), both the style and matter of the Psalm are very despondent; yet the appeals to God evince faith, and we may suppose that the word "song" might be extended to such compositions.

1, 2. Compare on the terms used, Ps 22:2; 31:2.

3. grave—literally, "hell" (Ps 16:10), death in wide sense.

4. go … pit—of destruction (Ps 28:1).

as a man—literally, "a stout man," whose strength is utterly gone.

5. Free … dead—Cut off from God's care, as are the slain, who, falling under His wrath, are left, no longer sustained by His hand.

6. Similar figures for distress in Ps 63:9; 69:3.

7. Compare Ps 38:2, on first, and Ps 42:7, on last clause.

8. Both cut off from sympathy and made hateful to friends (Ps 31:11).

9. Mine eye mourneth—literally, "decays," or fails, denoting exhaustion (Ps 6:7; 31:9).

I … called—(Ps 86:5, 7).

stretched out—for help (Ps 44:20).

10. shall the dead—the remains of ghosts.

arise—literally, "rise up," that is, as dead persons.

11, 12. amplify the foregoing, the whole purport (as Ps 6:5) being to contrast death and life as seasons for praising God.

13. prevent—meet—that is, he will diligently come before God for help (Ps 18:41).

14. On the terms (Ps 27:9; 74:1; 77:7).

15. from … youth up—all my life.

16, 17. the extremes of anguish and despair are depicted.

18. into darkness—Better omit "into"—"mine acquaintances (are) darkness," the gloom of death, &c. (Job 17:13, 14).