A Despairing Lament

1A song; a psalm of the Korahites. For the leader; according to Mahalath. For singing; a maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.


2LORD, the God of my salvation, I call out by day;

at night I cry aloud in your presence.a

3Let my prayer come before you;

incline your ear to my cry.b

4*For my soul is filled with troubles;c

my life draws near to Sheol.

5I am reckoned with those who go down to the pit;

I am like a warrior without strength.

6My couch is among the dead,

like the slain who lie in the grave.

You remember them no more;

they are cut off from your influence.

7You plunge me into the bottom of the pit,

into the darkness of the abyss.

8Your wrath lies heavy upon me;

all your waves crash over me.d



9Because of you my acquaintances shun me;

you make me loathsome to them;e

Caged in, I cannot escape;

10my eyes grow dim from trouble.

All day I call on you, LORD;

I stretch out my hands to you.

11*Do you work wonders for the dead?

Do the shades arise and praise you?f



12Is your mercy proclaimed in the grave,

your faithfulness among those who have perished?*

13Are your marvels declared in the darkness,

your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?


14But I cry out to you, LORD;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

15Why do you reject my soul, LORD,

and hide your face from me?

16I have been mortally afflicted since youth;

I have borne your terrors and I am made numb.

17Your wrath has swept over me;

your terrors have destroyed me.g

18All day they surge round like a flood;

from every side they encircle me.

19Because of you friend and neighbor shun me;h

my only friend is darkness.

* [Psalm 88] A lament in which the psalmist prays for rescue from the alienation of approaching death. Each of the three stanzas begins with a call to God (Ps 88:2, 10, 14) and complains of the death that separates one from God. The tone is persistently grim.

* [88:48] In imagination the psalmist already experiences the alienation of Sheol.

* [88:1113] The psalmist seeks to persuade God to act out of concern for divine honor: the shades give you no worship, so keep me alive to offer you praise.

* [88:12] Perished: lit., “Abaddon,” the deepest part of Sheol.

a. [88:2] Ps 77:3.

b. [88:3] Ps 119:170.

c. [88:47] Ps 28:1; 30:4; 40:3; 86:13; 143:7; Nm 16:33; Jb 17:1; Jon 2:7.

d. [88:8] Ps 18:5; 32:6; 42:8; 69:2; Jon 2:4.

e. [88:9] Ps 38:12; 79:4; 80:7; 123:34; 142:8; Jb 12:4; 19:13; Lam 3:7; Dn 9:16.

f. [88:11] Ps 6:6; 30:10; 38:18; 115:17.

g. [88:17] Jb 6:4; 20:25.

h. [88:19] Jb 19:13.

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