The Black Psalm
Psalm 88 is a personal favorite of mine. I’ve heard it called the Black Psalm. There is no “But I trust you, Lord.” There is no “Yet I will praise you.” The song is darkness, torment, loneliness. It is utterly miserable. I love it because its very presence in Scripture is our divine assurance that we are allowed to mourn. We are allowed to acknowledge when life hurts. And it’s okay to talk about our experiences without apology or disclaimer.
O Lord, the God of my salvation,
I have cried out by day and in the night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry!
For my soul has had enough troubles,
And my life has drawn near to Sheol .
I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit;
I have become like a man without strength,
Forsaken among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And they are cut off from Your hand.
You have put me in the lowest pit,
In dark places, in the depths.
Your wrath has rested upon me,
And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah .
You have removed my acquaintances far from me;
You have made me an object of loathing to them;
I am shut up and cannot go out.
My eye has wasted away because of affliction;
I have called upon You every day, O Lord;
I have spread out my hands to You.
Will You perform wonders for the dead?
Will the departed spirits rise and praise You? Selah.
Will Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave,
Your faithfulness in Abaddon ?
Will Your wonders be made known in the darkness?
And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
But I, O Lord, have cried out to You for help,
And in the morning my prayer comes before You.
O Lord, why do You reject my soul?
Why do You hide Your face from me?
I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on;
I suffer Your terrors; I am overcome .
Your burning anger has passed over me;
Your terrors have destroyed me.
They have surrounded me like water all day long;
They have encompassed me altogether.
You have removed lover and friend far from me;
My acquaintances are in darkness.