August 28 2023
Today, Monday August 28
Take It to the LORD in Prayer
“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
You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up, and I cannot get out; My eye wastes away because of affliction. LORD, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You. Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah”
Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But to You I have cried out, O LORD, And in the morning my prayer comes before You. LORD, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught. Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off. They came around me all day long like water; They engulfed me altogether. Loved one and friend You have put far from me, And my acquaintances into darkness.”
From beginning to the end, Psalm 88 is a plaintive prayer from Heman who was a man that was going through a time of trial and deep trouble. He is a man who is desperate, a man who is in despair and anguish of soul. Psalm 88 is considered one of the saddest chapters in the Bible. But remember this is a Psalm of instruction and we can learn at least four things from Heman’s experience. 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!
Second in verses 3-9, we learn that it is good to tell the Lord how we feel. I know sometimes we need to share with others our feelings. But often they can’t begin to understand them and sometimes they don’t even care how we feel. Heman confessed that he was "full of troubles" and felt like a "living dead man." He was without strength and felt forsaken by the Lord. God already knows what we are thinking. Psalm 139:2 tells us that “God understands our thought afar off.” So, we should be honest with God in our prayers and plea for His help.
Heman also told the Lord that He was responsible for his servant's troubles! He felt like it was God's hand put him into the pit (sheol, the grave), and that God's anger was flowing over him like breakers from the sea. Whatever sickness he had was caused by the Lord and made him so repulsive that his friends avoided him. He was without health, without light, and without friends, and he felt like he was without God! He was a prisoner and there was no way to escape. Like Job, Heman wanted to know why all this suffering had come to him.
The third thing we notice in verses 10-14, is that Heman reasoned with the Lord and so can we. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord….”. Hamen's argument is simply that his death would rob God of a great opportunity to demonstrate His power and glory. Of what service could Heman be to the Lord in sheol? Heman basically told the Lord that the spirits of the dead will not arise in the world of the dead and do the Lord's bidding but if God helped him, he could serve the Lord in the land of the living. Heman felt rejected and knew God’s face was turned away from him, but he kept on praying anyway!
Finally, the fourth thing we can learn from this sad prayer in verses 15-18, is that we should wait for the Lord’s answer. Heman writes that this particular affliction came upon him early in life. It is painful to think that he suffered all his life long and all day long (vv. 15, 17). He could not even look back to a time in his life when he enjoyed good health. He was alone! The darkness was his friend because it hid him from the eyes of those who observed his sufferings and may have said (as did Job's friends), "He must have sinned greatly for the Lord to afflict him so much!"
But he continued to pray and to look to God for help! "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him" (Job 13:5). "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord" (Ps. 27:13-14). The Lord always has the last word, and it will not be "darkness."
My friend, no matter what we are going through or feel, we should never doubt in the darkness what God has taught us in the light.