18 Verses, 1 Request: The Saddest Song in the Psalter

Read Psalm 88

Sometimes called the “saddest psalm in the psalter” Psalm 88 is a psalm of deepest despair. But it is despair out of which there is a beam of hope shining brightly in the midst of its gloom. The English Standard editors supply the following heading: 

I Cry Out Day and Night Before You

The NASB95 editors supply the following title to it:

A Petition to be Saved from Death

Each group of editors take their cues form specific verses in the psalm. The ESV chooses the first verse. The NASB95 editors seem to take the whole context and atmosphere of the psalm to inform their title. The interesting thing to me is that in the whole of its 18 verses, there is only one request. Just one. It is a cry to be heard. This psalm, the saddest of psalms has but one request. It is to be heard by God. Remarkable.

Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

To be heard by God is a big deal. To know that the creator God, the one who spun galaxies into existence, who is all powerful, who possess all knowledge hears your prayers, is unimaginably wonderful. 

But try. 

Try to imagine it. The most loving, most powerful, most wise being in the universe hears your cries for help, for rescue, for release, for comfort, for direction, for wisdom. He knows what your are up against and who is up against you. He knows the wisest course of action. He is aware of all the pressures and challenges of your life. He knows the details of your disappointments and heights of your hopes. He hears it all and is disposed to act.

Think about that.

The one beam of hope in the midst of the darkness of this psalm is that God would hear his prayer. Sometimes in the darkest nights of our soul, the one hope we have is this, “Our God hears us.”

Meditate on that.

Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or f he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

John 14:13-14

13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

John 15:7

7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

1 John 3:21-22

21 “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

And let me end with this:

1 John 5:14-15
14 “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
Know that your God hears your cries. He will answer. Follow him.

A Future Update: a new offering for the Poetry Project

Read Psalm 88

Get Me Out of Here

“Get me out of here” is all my heart wanted to say.
I was surrounded.
The mockers were many.
Friends were few.
Words were vicious.
Every thought took me deeper into troubles.
Every memory deeper into depression.

Like one walking among the dead,
Like one unremembered even by You,

I’m there again, Lord.
Everything in me wants to flee,

Like the companions who shun me,
I don’t even like my own company.

Yet, to You, I cry.
Each morning my cries are new 
Because my sorrows continue.
Whose hand is heavier than Yours?
The waters keep rising;
My head is just barely above water.
I don’t know when Your rescue will come.
But though I feel like a dead man walking
Let my prayer come before You;
Bend Your ear down to my level.

I won’t survive if You don’t.

Go to Psalm 89


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