No Praise for God
Psalm 88 is the only one of our 150 psalms which does not include praise for God.
Our psalmist is suffering. We note however that the writer does not reject God, but is still in prayer with God, and recognizes that salvation comes from God:
Lord, you are the God who saves me (NIV)
The poet, in his misery, recognizes that it is God who has placed him in his misery. This, by the way, is a major gut-checking reality for Christian followers of Christ. Here:
You have put me in the lowest pit…
Your wrath lies heavily…
you have overwhelmed me…
You have taken from me my closest friends…
Yet, like Job, our psalmist never speaks with angry accusation towards God, but expresses only bewilderment at God’s inaction, and only pleads for relief from his temporal suffering:
Do you show your wonders to the dead?…
Is your love declared in the grave…?
Are your wonders known in the place of darkness…?
Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?…
day and night I cry out to you…
May my prayer come before you…
I call to you, Lord, every day…
I spread out my hands to you…
But I cry to you for help, Lord…
in the morning my prayer comes before you…
Bible Bits is comforted by the psalms, as it is here that the imperfect humanity of God’s people — of everyman — is allowed to be expressed with censoring. God allows us to moan and complain. God allows us to cry out in questioning of God, as long as we remain obedient and accepting of God’s superior place and will, and as long as we join ourselves with Him. Here in the psalms we do not look for expressions of theological doctrine, but instead get to enjoy human expressions of praise, and also human expressions of frustration and unhappiness with God, which are — whew! — tolerated by God. Bible Bits feels great relief in this.
Praise God! And may God bless you!
Here is the full text of Psalm 88, taken from New International Version:
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For the director of music. According to mahalath leannoth. A maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.
1 Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
3 I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
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.
6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
8 You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
9 my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, Lord, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
13 But I cry to you for help, Lord;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
darkness is my closest friend. (NIV)