Psalm 88: Lament

You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend. – v.18 by M. William Ury

I would wager that there has never been a time when globally we have been forced to face hard, ultimate questions. Artists of distraction must deal with death-fears produced by a mere touch or a breath. That ought to uncover some deeper trepidations.

This psalm is difficult because it is a downer; there is no Psalm more “negative.” Divine revelation inspires brutal honesty. If I had suffered like Heman, I might be less cowardly in expressing negative emotions. The Lord has no problem with our “tough” interrogations. He prefers them to apathy. Somewhere between indifference and blasphemy, we are invited to shriek our pain.

Anger, sadness, rejection, loss, isolation, and stages of depression are recounted. It is real life to bring tragic grief, God. Lament is interwoven with praise and worship in over half the Psalms. Job, some say, is the earliest book in the Bible. Which means our theology engages horrible loss and the “whys” without blinking right from the start. Lament enables a visit to one’s true self.

This is not news to God. Jesus experienced everything this lament rehearses. His first sermon begins with mourning. Gethsemane’s distress and Golgotha’s despair are evidence that He chose out of love to take on our sin’s curse and grief. He cried out. He assumed us to heal us. He is our closest, and only, friend in darkness. Rightly, the Church sings this psalm on Good Friday.

Note: Honest believers and the Son of God address their lament to Yahweh, who saves, by name (v. 1). Trust shines through the pain. With labored faith, they consistently use the pronoun, “You.” They pour out their hearts because He does hear, care and is there in the darkness. In agonized intimacy and hope, Jesus shouted out, “My God, My God why?” I wonder if we are being invited into the heart of the Trinity, of redemption, of intercession? Let’s not waste this sorrow.


Jesus, hear my cry. Have mercy upon me.

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