1 “O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out to you by day.
I come to you at night.
2 Now hear my prayer;
listen to my cry.
3 For my life is full of troubles,
and death draws near.
4 I am as good as dead,
like a strong man with no strength left.
5 They have left me among the dead,
and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
cut off from your care.
6 You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
into the darkest depths.
7 Your anger weighs me down;
with wave after wave you have engulfed me.
Psalm 88:1-7, New Living Translation
I needed this today. Yesterday I went to the doctor and was blindsided by news that really isn’t good, at all. Of course, I also have this ongoing struggle with depression. Today I feel like I’m running a marathon with ‘leg weights’ on. I thank God for David’s depression. “Thank you God for letting this happen to David!”
This particular Psalm is radically different than the others. This Psalm has no kind words, and no praise to God for deliverance. It is a singularly sad song. Imagine if you will, a huge stone fortress in the mountains. Every room has a door, and every room a window. All except one. No light enters. There is no entrance or exit, no way to get free. Ps. 88, would describe living that experience.
I like my Psalms to be strengthening or encouraging. But then comes this one! Life unravels and frays. Everything scrambles and gets confusing. Life comes apart on me. The thought of being one who is irretrievably lost and damned, tunnels into my thinking, like a strange kind of worm, assaulting my thinking. The despair is beyond belief, I have no words to describe its special variety of darkness. But anyone who has walked into this hell will understand.
Am I ‘less’ a Christian because of this vicious despair? Some would say so. David in verse 1-2, calls out to God. (I guess this what you are supposed to do). There is a sense of consistency in his cry. In verses 3-5, we see him evaluating his position. Again, there is a underground current of despair. There is simply no help, no deliverance for him.
And in verses 6-7 is a painful recognition that God is doing all of this. It’s a bitter and painful place to be. There are no explanations why life has gotten so nasty and bitter and out-of-control. But one thing that Psalm 88 does quite well, it strips you of any dignity that you have left. I think that there exists a faith behind your faith. (If that makes any sense at all?)
Now, I will get on my ‘soapbox’. There is so much embedded in the Psalms. Comfort, faith, victory and hope are what we find, and more. But in Ps. 88, we find a black pearl, the only one of its kind. Somehow, we dare not leave it behind, just because we don’t understand it. I’m convinced that it has tremendous power to the disciple in endless pain. Just vocalizing this Psalm does something to us. These words help. This Psalm is ours. God has provided it for us.