Hope from the saddest Psalm

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by Richard Mansel, managing editor

When we suffer, we run to Psalms and Proverbs for comfort. Wisdom Literature is a treasure that could only come from God.

However, one Psalm appears to be bereft of comfort until we look deeper into the text.

Psalm 88 is a mystery. We don’t know why it was written. Some suppose that the author was near physical death, a leper or a type of Christ. All we know for certain is that the author of Psalm 88 was completely miserable.

He was:

  • “full of trouble” (Psalm 88:3).
  • “near to the grave” (Psalm 88:3).
  • “counted with those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 88:4).
  • “has no strength” (Psalm 88:4).
  • “Adrift among the dead” (Psalm 88:5).
  • “Like the slain who lie in the grave” (Psalm 88:5).
  • “in the lowest pit” (Psalm 88:6).
  • “in darkness, in the depths” (Psalm 88:6).

Horrors attack him like a relentless wave (Psalm 88:7). His final words illustrate his depression and loneliness (Psalm 88:18). Despite this oppression, he sees God as his salvation (Psalm 88:1) and prayer as his voice (Psalm 88:2,9).

No matter how low we go, God will be there (Hebrews 13:5). Misery cannot take us where God cannot go (Psalm 138:7-12). He is longsuffering and eager to forgive and forget (Jeremiah 31:34).

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

God will always shower blessings on his children (Ephesians 1:3). We cannot allow this misery to take Christ away from us. Satan will hit us hard (Job 1), but we must be resolved and firm (Hebrews 11:6; Ephesians 6:10-17).

While the psalm ends with the appearance of hopelessness, we can nonetheless be comforted by the spiritual reality that in the end, that is all mankind possesses. Only in Christ can we be saved (Romans 5:6-11).

Walk in Christ every day and live in his light and the horrors of this world will serve only to usher us into our new homeland where such things no longer exist (Revelation 21:3-4).

Christ is our anchor in the storms of this world. Cling to him and find victory today!

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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