Daily Family Worship

Psalm 88: A Song of Sorrow

by | Jun 1, 2024

Although Heman spoke here of his own pain and sufferings, the Holy Spirit inspired him in such a way that his words prophetically refer to the Person and afflictions of the Lord Jesus. If we read this composition with a spiritual eye, we cannot help missing a sight of Christ in this mournful pouring out of the Psalmist’s soul. Was there ever sorrow like unto His sorrow, wherewith the Lord afflicted Him in the day of His fierce anger? Observe how our beloved Surety and Representative, in these cries of His soul, calls the Lord “the God of his salvation” – making it clear that it was from Him that He looked for an assured deliverance from all His sufferings.

It is impossible for a child of God to have any doubts as to Whom the expressions in verses 3-9 peculiarly and principally belong. To Whom else can they so properly belong as to our blessed Jesus? Who can read of His soul-agony in the Garden, and His cries on the cross, without beholding the striking application? As you recollect Christ bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, do you need to be told that the Divine wrath was then laying hard upon Him for our sins, and that all the billows and waves of God’s displeasure at sin were poured out upon Him? And who can recollect the fleeing of the Savior’s disciples from Him in Gethsemane, and their desertion of Him in the hour of danger, without being assured that these verses point to none other but Jesus? Yes, O Lamb of God, it is You of Whom the Psalmist speaks, and not of any other man!

The force and beauty of the expressions in verses 10-12 are intended to confirm the certainty of the things which they seem to question. We meet with many such passages in Scripture, where the certainty of the truth that is intended to be established is more effectually done by the inquiry, than if it had been said in so many words. An example of this is found in our Lord’s question, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” By this question, it is plain that Jesus not only meant to say that it would profit him nothing; but by this method of stating the subject, He intended to give us the most certain conviction of the stupidity and folly of neglecting the care of the soul, upon any and every consideration whatsoever. And this part of the 88th Psalm is another instance of this particular method of revealing truth: “Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee?” “Yes, thy dead men shall live” – that is the promise of the Father to His Son, in Isaiah 26:19 – “together with my dead body, shall they arise!” By His death, Jesus has overcome death; for it was appointed that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. And just as surely as He was delivered up for our offences; so also, He was raised up again for our justification (Heb. 2:9; Rom. 4:25). Hence, therefore, God’s wonders shall indeed be shown among the dead; for the dead in Christ shall arise! If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we will also share in the glories of His resurrection! (1 Thess. 4:14-16) O how blessed is the thought! Dear brother or sister, just think of the blessed privileges that Jesus has procured by His redemption; and let your mind meditate upon all the wonders, even in the regions of darkness and the grave, that have been brought about by His amazing love!

There is a great degree of earnestness in the sorrows which are again repeated in verses 13-19. Jesus, from the moment of His birth to the cross, was sanctified and set apart in the eyes of the holy Law of God; and yet He stood forth as the Surety and the Burden-bearer of all the sins and sorrows of His people. It is a blessed thought for the believer – in the heart-felt knowledge and conviction of it – that although such rich and free sovereign grace is shown to a poor sinner, in the providing of such a substitute as Jesus to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; yet in the accomplishment of this great undertaking, there was no favor nor forbearance shown to Christ. Do not hastily pass over this sweet view of Jesus! In the full confidence that the Lord Jesus, in all His sufferings, carried all His people’s sins and expiated all their transgressions; and in the remembrance that He died as the Just One in the place of the unjust, to bring them unto God – here lies the whole assurance of our salvation!

Lord, we thank You for being the God of our salvation, to Whom we may freely pray whenever we are in trouble and sorrow! Amen.

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