Devotion on Psalm 88 (2 Jun 2013)

Sometimes when we go through difficult times, it seems as though we are still expected to maintain a happy image in order to be in church as though nothing was wrong. Some people in the church seem to be happy all the time. Is there something wrong with me if I often felt discouraged and down in life?

People may choose to hide their feelings of frustration and sadness, but the Bible clearly shows that God allows room for His people to express their woes and deepest concerns to Him. Approximately a third of the book of Psalms is devoted to laments[1]. It shows that worship need not always be about victory and triumphs.

One of the most despairing prayers in the Psalms would be found in Psalm 88. Most laments often end the complaint with words of assurance and finally praise to God. However, this psalm does not show any relief to the writer at all. The writer seems to be facing extreme anguish that is related to death, sickness, loneliness  and brokenness with God. The psalmist writes that he is like the dead whom God remembers no more and is cut off from His care. That shows the depths of his sorrows and feelings of being cast away, for nothing can be worst than being cut off from God’s caring hand.   

However, in between the psalmist’s laments (vs3-9a and 14-18), he devotes the middle portion to show an indirect sense of hope. God is capable of showing wonders (vs 10), even in his situation that is so bleak that only a miracle could rescue him out of it. But the psalmist acknowledges that God is not limited by anything, and can do the miracle if He wants to.

Ultimately, it is God who is the focal point of the psalm. The writer, despite facing such anguish and feelings of rejection from God, still went back to God and cried out to Him. This shows the testament of his faith in God and his need for God. In the very first verse of the psalm, the writer acknowledges that the Lord is the “God of my salvation”. He starts his lament with this frame of mind so that he does not need to despair excessively, but instead be strengthened in the knowledge that the God who had saved him before is still able to do so. He can therefore be prepared to endure the crosses that come his way.

As believers, it is very possible to face continuous suffering in our journey of life. Until our Lord returns again, man will have to face the consequences of sin and live in the fallen world temporary ruled by the devil. However, God is still the Sovereign Lord, and we can hope in Him and His return to restore all things. The psalm ends in despair but the writer continues to cry out to God. The story has yet to end. The present situation cannot and must not be accepted as final. The psalmist does not give up and though his prayer ends with him still in the dark and he sees no answer in sight, he continues on. 

Rather than bitterly compare our lives with the lives of others, our Lord invites us to turn to Him and pour out our deepest feelings and emotions to Him. It is in the Lord that we can find strength to continue on life’s journey.


Cherlyn Oh
Youth Co-Ordinator


[1][1] E.Lucas, Exploring the OT: The Psalms and Wisdom Literature. (London: SPCK, 2003.) Pg61