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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Psalms 88

Verse 1

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:

A Psalm or Song ] Psalmus totus luctuosus, a doleful ditty, beginning and ending with complaints; and therefore sung in the primitive times, among other penitential psalms, as the public confession of persons excommunicated.

Upon Mahalath Leannoth ] A musical instrument sounding heavily as a shaulm doth, and therefore called infirmity, for humbling, or for antiphenies. A fit title.

Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite ] i.e. The instruction of Heman, who was a very wise man, 1 Kings 4:31 , descended of Zerah, the son of Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:4 , and thence called the Ezrahite, brother to Ethan, who penned the next psalm, 1 Chronicles 2:6 . Nobile par fratrum.

Ver. 1. O Lord God of my salvation ] This is the only one expression of his faith found in this whole psalm, and it nmst be understood that he thus believed and prayed, as here, Psalms 88:2 , when he was at worst, and most despairingly complained.

I have cried day and night unto thee ] Though in such a state as they were, Acts 27:20 , when neither sun nor star appeared, yet he cast anchor, and prayed still for day.

Verse 2

Psa 88:2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;

Ver. 2. Let my prayer come before thee ] He did not cast out brutish and wild complaints and moans in misery, as it is natural for people to do, but poured forth his soul into God’s blessed bosom, and now prayeth an answer.

Verse 3

Psa 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.

Ver. 3. For my soul is full of trouble ] Hypotyposis hominis luctuosissime affecti. Here we have the lively picture of a man under bitter affliction. Extraordinary wise he was, and extraordinary troubles he had. None out of hell suffer more than God’s dearest children. This good man felt himself in the suburbs of hell, as it were.

And my life draweth nigh unto the grave ] Or, unto hell. The same word signifieth both, because death is hell’s harbinger, and would be so to the elect, but for Christ.

Verse 4

Psa 88:4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man [that hath] no strength:

Ver. 4. I am counted with them, &c. ] I am looked upon as irrecoverable, given up for desperate. Conclamatum est.

I am as a man that hath no strength ] A man no man; weak as water, ακιας αναρ ανθρωπος .

Verse 5

Psa 88:5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.

Ver. 5. Free among the dead ] Free of that company, one of the many among the manes, or ghosts; a free denizen of that society of that moiety of mankind that are dead. Yea, I am mortuorum minimus, as R. Jonah rendereth it, according to the Arabic, A mundo manumissus.

Like the slain that lie in the grave ] That are thrown on heaps into a pit, as after a field fought (R. David).

Whom thou rememberest no more ] As to this present world, and as it may seem to others, with whom out of sight out of mind; dead folk are soon forgotten. Varro thinks Lethum, death, hath its name απο την ληθης , from forgetfulness; because they which have now forgotten all the world should soon be forgotten of the world.

And they are cut off from thine hand ] Thy providence over them in matters belonging to life is at an end.

Verse 6

Psa 88:6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.

Ver. 6. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit ] In cisterna infimorum, in the deepest dungeon, in lutoso lacu, such as Jeremiah was cast into, Jeremiah 37:15-16

In the deeps ] In voraginibus, out of which none escapes, nothing can be buoyed up, as they call it.

Verse 7

Psa 88:7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted [me] with all thy waves. Selah.

Ver. 7. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me ] So it did upon David, Psalms 32:3 , but especially upon the Son of David, the Lord Christ, of whose sufferings these were but types, or as chips of his cross.

And thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves ] But all this while it is thy doing, and that carrieth comfort in it.

Verse 8

Psa 88:8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: [I am] shut up, and I cannot come forth.

Ver. 8. Thou hast put away mine acquaintance, &c. ] Job and David complain of the like misery. Optimum solatium sodalitium; but woe to him that is alone.

I am shut up ] Miserably inclaved in this forlorn comfortless condition, a perpetual prisoner.

Verse 9

Psa 88:9 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.

Ver. 9. Lord, I have called daily upon thee ] Which he would not have done if he had cast away his confidence; for "how shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed?" Romans 10:14 . The saints, when they want the sun, yet they have the daystar in their hearts.

Verse 10

Psa 88:10 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise [and] praise thee? Selah.

Ver. 10. Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? ] Wilt thou delay to deliver me till I am dead, and then raise me again by a miracle, that I may praise thee? But he should have considered that God neither needeth our poor praises nor can his help ever come too late.

Shall the dead arise ] Heb. the giants, that is, those that are swallowed up of death, as the giants were of the deluge.

Verse 11

Psa 88:11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? [or] thy faithfulness in destruction?

Ver. 11. Shall thy loving kindness, &c. ] The same again, and Psalms 88:12 a third time, pro more dolentium. See Psalms 6:5 ; Psalms 30:9 .

Verse 12

Psa 88:12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

Ver. 12. In the land of forgetfulness ] So the state and place of the dead is called; and why: See Trapp on " Psa 88:5 "

Verse 13

Psa 88:13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

Ver. 13. But unto thee have I cried ] Oh, condescend to thy poor crying creature in extremity.

In the morning ] See Trapp on " Psa 5:3 "

Verse 14

Psa 88:14 LORD, why castest thou off my soul? [why] hidest thou thy face from me?

Ver. 14. Lord, why castest thou off, &c. ] Luther saith of himself, that after his conversion he lay three days in desperation. And afterwards, he sometimes suffered such desertions, ut nec calor, nec sanguis, nec sensus, nec vex, superesset, saith an eyewitness (Just. Jon. Ep. ad Melan.).

Verse 15

Psa 88:15 I [am] afflicted and ready to die from [my] youth up: [while] I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.

Ver. 15. I am afflicted, &c. ] He was brought up in the school of temptations, and kept in this form from his youth. He was put soon to it, and so deep lessons had he set him, that he had like to have lost his wits. I am distracted, saith he, I am held upon the wheel.

Verse 16

Psa 88:16 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.

Ver. 16. Thy fierce wrath, &c. ] As rivers of brimstone.

Have cut me off ] Multis excisionibus ideoque duplicatur Tau.

Verse 17

Psa 88:17 They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.

Ver. 17. They compassed me about ] As the water compasseth the earth like a girdle.

Verse 18

Psa 88:18 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, [and] mine acquaintance into darkness.

Ver. 18. Lover and friend, &c. ] See Psalms 88:8 , and mark how mournfully he concludeth; as doth also the Church, Lamentations 5:22 .

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 88". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.