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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

August 26 2023


Today, Saturday August 26

Don’t Give Up!


Psalm 88:1-7

A song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. To the Chief Musician. Set to ‘Mahalath Leannoth.’ A Contemplation of Heman the Ezrahite.


“O LORD, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength, Adrift among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And who are cut off from Your hand. You have laid me in the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah”


Psalm 88 is the last "sons of Korah" psalm in the Psalms and is perhaps the most plaintive song in the entire book. It is also the eleventh of thirteen “Maschil” (Hebrew) or “Contemplation” Psalms written especially to instruct. Universally acknowledged to be the saddest of all the psalms, there is scarcely a glimmer of hope anywhere. It is full of dejection, despair, death. The very last word of the psalm is the word "darkness."


Spurgeon said, “Assuredly, if ever there was a song of sorrow and a Psalm of sadness, this is one.” The Hebrew words Mahalath and Leannoth in the title, mean "sickness" and "for singing" or "for humbling." The first word probably refers to a sad melody to accompany this somber song, and the second might identify the purpose of the psalm, to bring us low before the Lord.


From the title of the psalm, we also learn that “Heman the Ezrahite" is the writer. There were two Hemans known to the Hebrew historians. We believe the writer of this Psalm was Heman, the son of Joel, the grandson of Samuel, who was one of the leaders of the musical side of the temple worship as organized by David (I Chronicles 6:33). He had fourteen sons and three daughters. The other is Heman who lived in Solomon’s time (1 Kings 4:31).


In the Hebrew text, Psalm 88 ends with the word hoshek, which is translated "darkness." There is no closing note of triumph as in other Psalms that begin with pain and perplexity. The psalm speaks of darkness (vv. 1, 6, 12,18), life in the depths (vv. 3-4, 6), the immanence of death (vv. 5, 10-11), feelings of drowning (vv. 7, 16-17), loneliness (vv. 5, 8, 14, 18), and imprisonment (v. 8).


Most songs written by various musicians are a reflection of their feelings or emotions. Many songs also express not only the soul of the writer but the general sense or state of the culture that they live in. The most popular song in America today is one written and sung by Oliver Anthony called “Rich Men North of Richmond”. On YouTube, it has over 42 million views. I heard one commentator called it a “funeral dirge” of the feeling and thoughts of a majority of Americans today. They are mourning and expressing their anger and frustration over the broken state of our nation today. Oliver, a country boy from Virginia, put it into the words of a song, pickup up his guitar and sang it and people can’t stop listening to it because it expresses their feelings.


I believe this is what we find in Psalm 88! Heman was a servant of God who was suffering intensely and did not understand why, yet he persisted in praying to God and did not abandon his faith. Not all of life's scripts have happy endings, but that does not mean that the Lord has forsaken us. From Heman's experience, as recorded in this psalm, we can discover four instructions to follow when life falls apart and our prayers seemingly are not answered.


First, in verses 1-2, we learn that we should still come to the LORD by faith no matter what or how we are feeling! Heman's life had not been an easy one (v. 15) and now it had grown even more difficult, and he felt that death was very near (vv. 3, 10-11). But he did not give up! He still trusted in God, whom he addressed as "Lord—Jehovah" four times in this prayer (vv. 1, 9, 13, 14). "Jehovah" is the name of the Lord that emphasizes His covenant relationship with His people, and Heman was a son of that covenant. Heman also addressed Him as "God—Elohim," the name that expresses His power. The phrase "God of my salvation" indicates that Heman had trusted the Lord to save him, and the fact that he prayed as he did indicates that his faith was still active.


Suffering sours some souls; it sweetens others. The poet who penned Psalm 88 was a man made patient and prudent through pain. Today, by God’s grace we can experience the same! Don’t give up!


God bless!

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