Psalm 88: This Is Despair

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.
I am overwhelmed with troubles
    and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
    who are cut off from your care.

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Psalm 88

This is not happy clappy Christianity

This is not victorious living

This is not escapism in religious garb

This is darkness

This is devastation

This is ‘an embarrassment to conventional faith’ (Brueggemann)

This is ‘darkness all day long’ (J. Clinton McCann)

This is going down

This is drowning

This is the dying of the light

This is the dying of every light

This is despair

This is Psalm 88

This is honesty

This is his experience

This is our experience

‘My students have pointed out to me and argued in many papers, [that] perhaps there is more God-confidence in this Psalm than I recognise.  Despite what the psalmist says about God, he still reaches out to God.

‘We often judge faithfulness on the basis of praise – the more enthusiastic the better. But, for the psalmists, it is not so much what we say to God that makes us faithful – the superlatives of praise – but that we keep coming back, reaching out to God when there is little evidence to suggest that God is remotely interested. Maybe we can only sigh a muffled cry in the dark. But directed to God, a tear-soaked allegation of betrayal may be the most courageous faith ever voiced.’ (Glenn Pemberton, Hurting with God)