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.
* [88:4–8] In imagination the psalmist already experiences the alienation of Sheol.
* [88:11–13] 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.
b. [88:3] Ps 119:170.
c. [88:4–7] 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; 123:3–4; 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.