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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Psalms 88

Verses 1-18

Psalms 88:0

Psalms 88:1 (A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.) O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:

Psalms 42:1 “A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah” Comments - Origen tells us the psalms that include the title “sons of Korah” in its opening verse (42 through 49, 84, 85, 87, 88) were written by the sons of Korah, who worked together in the unity of the Spirit to produce it. He justifies this statement by quoting Psalms 44:1, which says, “O God, we have heard with our ears.”

“But if it be necessary also from the ancient Scriptures to bring forward the three who made a symphony on earth, so that the Word was in the midst of them making them one, attend to the superscription of the Psalms, as for example to that of the forty-first, which is as follows: ‘Unto the end, unto understanding, for the sons of Korah.’ For though there were three sons of Korah whose names we find in the Book of Exodus, Aser, which is, by interpretation, ‘instruction,’ and the second Elkana, which is translated, ‘possession of God,’ and the third Abiasaph, which in the Greek tongue might be rendered, ‘congregation of the father,’ yet the prophecies were not divided but were both spoken and written by one spirit, and one voice, and one soul, which wrought with true harmony, and the three speak as one, ‘As the heart panteth after the springs of the water, so panteth my soul alter thee, O God.’ But also they say in the plural in the forty-fourth Psalm, ‘O God, we have heard with our ears.’” ( Origen’s Commentary on Matthew 14:1) [95]

[95] Origen, Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, trans. Allan Menzies, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 9, ed. Allan Menzies (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, c1896, 1906), 495.

Psalms 88:1 “Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite” Word Study on “Maschil” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “Maschil” ( מַשְׂכִּיל ) (H4905) is a participle meaning, “a didactic poem.” Strong it means, “instructive,” thus “a didactic poem,” being derived from ( שָׂכַל ) (H7919), which literally means, “to be circumspect, and hence intelligent.” The Enhanced Strong says it is found 13 times in the Old Testament being translated in the KJV all 13 times as “Maschil.” It is used as a title for thirteen of the 150 psalms (Psalms 32:0; Psalms 42, 44, 45, 52 through 55; 74; 78; 88; 89; 142).

Most modern translations do as the KJV and transliterate this Hebrew word as “maschil,” thus avoiding the possibility of a mistranslation. The LXX reads “for instruction.” YLT reads “An Instruction.” Although some of these psalms are didactic in nature, scholars do not feel that all fit this category. The ISBE says, “Briggs suggests ‘a meditation,’ Thirtle and others ‘a psalm of instruction,’ Kirkpatrick ‘a cunning psalm.’” [96]

[96] John Richard Sampey, “Psalms,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Scripture Reference - Note:

1 Kings 4:31, “For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman , and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 88". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/psalms-88.html. 2013.