Most hopeless Psalm: 88

June 8, 2023

By Editorial Team

"For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to sheol/grave" Psalm 88:3

David had three Worship leaders, Asaph, Heman and Ethan(aka Jeduthun). Asaph wrote many Psalms, Heman wrote Psalm 88 and Ethan wrote Psalm 89. These three were the anchors for the Church services and also 24x7 Worship that was going on. David was as much a Pastor and prophet as king. In that he typified Jesus our King who will rule one day upon the earth for a thousand years. David would go through a painful experience and see the word of the Holy Spirit coming to pass. After the event, he would pen a poem and give it to one of these folks and they would write the music notes and sing next Sunday. So fresh and contemporary was music, these became Psalms years later. Even when Don Moen, Paul Baloche, Matt Redman etc write songs today, it’s the same approach. The anointing is always there on testimony and God always breathes on something real and genuine.

One of these Worship Leaders Heman fell sick. For weeks he didn’t recover, doctors did their best and still things weren’t improving, he was getting worse day by day and was weakening and prepared for the worst. It was perhaps an infectious disease, clearly he was bed-ridden, people had stopped visiting him. Friends and family all kept away because of the nature of the sickness or whatever reasons. It was in that worst time, he poured out his complaint to God. Most theologians agree that Psalm 88 is the worst, its got no turning point, no phrase like “you’ve heard my prayer/you’ve healed me etc/God has delivered me out of the hand of the enemy” nothing like that. It’s a melancholic cry that is sad in all its tones. Probably only Lamentations is worse.

The only two bright spots, are these:

  • He cries unto the God of my salvation: There are times in life when the Heavens are brass, and God is not answering your prayers and no change in your situation, in such times as these, the only thing we are sure is our Salvation. In such times, its good to say Thank you Jesus for dying for me. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Ps 107:2.
  • He says I will continue to pray: I have called daily upon thee (v9). and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee (v13). Men always ought to pray and not to faint, said our Master.
  • Despite praying Heman is getting weaker day by day, still no improvement, suffering much. “I am counted as one that goes down to the pit (v4). Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave(v5). And shut in at home, not able to go out, nobody coming to visit him etc. At this juncture he takes to supplication. Supplication is like a lawyer standing in court and asking questions of the Judge/God. It’s a righteous argument, but rhetorical and you have to know the Law (Bible). Only those people who have a genuine walk with the Lord can enter into this inner court. It is not for everyone and it has to entered in with utmost repentance, seriousness and only seeking God’s eternal honour in mind. It is almost as if standing on the Day of Judgement. Daniel did that in Daniel 9, so did Moses when he went back to Mt.Sinai to apologize to God on the people’s behalf. Jesus did that in Gethsemane when he prayed for us all.

Here Heman asks 4 questions of God.

Will You show wonders to the dead?

Shall the dead arise and praise You?

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?

LORD, why do You cast off my soul?

Why do You hide Your face from me? (v10-14)

Basically he is saying, if I die, will it do you any good? Will it do you any honour? What about the life promises to me, they aren’t fulfilled? Forgive me and Mercy me. Many of us focus on sins of commissions, but at times in the Lord’s sight the sins of omission are far more grievous. Whenever am sick, often he points out to the things I was supposed to but haven’t, or the prayers that I was supposed to pray for someone/the Church etc, or an errand he told me to do which I have delayed. And when I begin to obey, the sickness goes away. God was merciful and Heman’s story didn’t end in sickness and death. God did heal Heman and he was restored back to health and Worshipped again. That’s why its in the Psalter, else it would have been part of some funeral service and not in the Bible.

  • And lastly, I have no doubt the help and prayer of friends and family brought him through. We can’t live life alone, and I believe David, Asaph, the friends in his Worship team were fervently praying for his recovery. David may have sent a new doctor or an alternate medicine etc. And finally, all that brought him out. Our prayers aren’t enough sometimes, when the battle is tough, we need additional help. Cultivate a few friends who can pray with you, it is very important in your walk with the Lord.

A few weeks ago, I was sick due to some allergies and coughing etc, I was totally home bound and what I write is from my experience. Jesus healed me, thank to many prayers and finally a correct diagnosis and am well now. So today its my prayer that as you read this, Jesus will touch you and heal you, and bring freedom to the areas that are holding you captive. May the Holy Spirit brood over your life. Shalom.

Here's a fresh rendering of “My hope is built” by Hillsong

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