OUT OF THE DEPTHS
I praise You, my Heavenly Father, that I can trust You.
Read Psalm 88
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For the director of music. According to mahalath leannoth.[b] A maskil[c] 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.[d]
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[e]?
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.
a Psalm 88:1 In Hebrew texts 88:1-18 is numbered 88:2-19.
b Psalm 88:1 Title: Possibly a tune, “The Suffering of Affliction”
c Psalm 88:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
d Psalm 88:7 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 10.
e Psalm 88:11 Hebrew Abaddon
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, / But trust Him for His grace; / Behind a frowning providence / He hides a smiling face” (William Cowper, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” 1774).
“When I see God, I’m going to have a word with Him,” said a patient who had suffered greatly for many years. I said to him, “You may have to join a long queue!”
Psalms like this one show us that it is acceptable to tell God how we feel. There are psalms which are joyful throughout and ones which begin with a complaint against God and end on a note of praise, but here the psalmist seems to be surrounded by darkness from beginning to end (1,18).
However, this is not a cry of despair. The psalm addresses “the God who saves me” (1). The psalmist trusts God enough to pray every day (9, 13). Although, as a hospital chaplain, I cannot tell people why God allows them to suffer, they often appreciate honest prayer to help them trust God in the midst of it all.
The words at the beginning of the Reflect section come from the hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” The author, William Cowper, suffered from severe bouts of depression, but trusted that somehow God was at work.
If you are in distress, tell God about it, then reach out to another believer and ask them to pray with you. If you know someone who is going through a trying time, pray for them.
My God, life is not easy, but I trust Your heart. Hold me in the palm of Your hand.
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