DayBreaks for 08/09/19: The Psalm of Darkness
From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:
O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man 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. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. – Psalms 88:1-18 (NIV)
This may be the darkest passage in Scripture. Before we write it off as being guilty of spiritual hyperbole, we need ask ourselves: “Haven’t I felt that way at one time or another?” Aren’t there times in your past where you have cried out to God, feeling that you were in the “pit”, that you were “cut off” from His care and even His vision? I don’t know anyone who hasn’t, at some point or another, suffered from those feelings. I think we need to accept this Psalm as being direct from an honest, anguished heart – a prayer with a sharp tip that is pointed upward to God.
Why would God choose to include such a passage in His Word? It might discourage people from becoming believers, right? Imagine if all believers all of a sudden were possessed by a dark spirit such as filled David’s heart. Do you think anyone would find Christianity attractive? It might even discourage some believers from continuing in their faith. If David was a man after God’s own heart and he felt this way, what hope is there that my relationship with God would be a more fulfilling one, or one even as “good” as David’s when he’s expressing himself this way?
In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason offers one suggestion: “…there can be a strange comfort in the reading of this psalm in times of trouble. It is good to be reminded that such a black outpouring really is Scriptural, that prayer need not be upbeat and optimistic. The true believer does not always rise from his knees full of encouragement and fresh hope. There are times when one may remain down in the dumps and yet still have prayed well. For what God wants from us is not the observance of religious protocol, but just that we be real with Him. What He wants is our hearts.”
The effectiveness of our prayers and prayer life should never be judged by how it makes us feel, or how well we feel we prayed. It should be judged by honesty. God wants the real you and I – whether we are up or down, filled with hope or bitterly discouraged.
PRAYER: Lord, I know that at times I have prayed with the hidden motive of trying to manipulate You. I know I have not always been honest in my talking with You. Father, I want to give you my heart regardless of its condition, to be real and genuine with You and before You. Help me to be real. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>