Sometimes the best of God’s saints are severely exercised with the sorest of inward troubles and would be distracted with dismal apprehensions but for the Throne of grace to which they may seek for mercy and strength.
Lest there be offenses which prevent the Lord from giving favorable regard to our requests,
such times should be times of earnest heart searching.
1 O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:
5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.
6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.
8 Thou 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.
9 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
10 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.
11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?
12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
14 LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?
15 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
16 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.
17 They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.
18 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 88 – A Cry from the Waves
Most of the psalms which begin in sorrow end in exuberant joy and praise. This is an exception. There seems to be no break in the monotony of grief and despair. In Psalm 88:1-8 it would appear that the psalmist was oppressed by some loathsome disorder which made even his friends shrink from companionship. But it is a hopeful sign when, even in such circumstances, a man can still speak of God as the “God of my salvation.”
In Psalm 88:9-18 the psalmist combats his despair by reminding God and himself that his has been a praying soul. Surely the Almighty will not forget his outstretched hands, nor the prayers that have anticipated the morning! It is a true argument. That you can pray at all is a sure sign that the divine Spirit is within your heart. From unknown depths He is helping your infirmity, and this proves that God has not forgotten or forsaken you. If just now life’s bark is overwhelmed with difficulty, God rules the waves. The storm-wind will presently subside at His rebuke. Lover and friend will again stand round about you, and your soul will come back into light. God’s days are not like man’s—from morning to evening, but from dark to dawn. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Psalm 88:2-3—Incline thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles.
The psalmist has found the quickest argument before his God. There is nothing that so quickly makes the bell ring in heaven as the touch of a troubled hand. When a man is full of the interests of life, of prosperity, and self-content; when the voices of applause resound on every side; when his house is full of children, and his barn of sheaves, his prayer halts, and God seems far away. But let trouble come—let the waters, swollen by many confluent streams, begin to rise within his soul, so that lover and friend are far away, and he compassed with terror (Psalm 88:16, 18), then God bends his ear and heart.
O child of sorrow, do not count that you are cast away! It is true that your Lord cried from his Cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34), “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?“ but even Him, though laden with the sins of the world, the Father held near his heart. And He has not left you, neither can He.
“The earth and every vassal star,
All space beyond the soar of angel wings,
Wait on his word; and yet He stays his ear
For every sigh a suppliant sinner brings.”
Try and think of trouble as storing your heart with seeds of joy; as acting upon you as the fire upon the primeval earth, scattering jewels through its crust; or as the glaciers that brought the rich soil into the valleys; or as the husbandman who buries the seeds of spring in the autumn fields. A veiled angel, nothing else!
“But if, impatient, thou let slip thy cross,
Thou wilt not find it in this world again,
Nor in another; here, and here alone,
Is given thee to suffer for God’s sake.” —Our Daily Homily