A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For the director of music. According to mahalath leannoth. A maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.
1 Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. 2 May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. 3 I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. 4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit. I am like one without strength. 5 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. 6 You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. 7 Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. 8 You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; 9 my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?Do their spirits rise up and praise you? 11 Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? 12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
13 But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14 Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. 17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. 18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend.
I was devastated, I was having thoughts just to leave and give up everything. My insensitivity, irresponsibility, and pride were exposed with just a simple conflict. I wasn’t careful. My heart was left unguarded. I felt lost. My understanding of the gospel didn’t bring me comfort anymore. I couldn’t find rest in the blood of Christ shed on my behalf. I just wanted to be alone. I was irritated. I want to end everything. I was lost. I couldn’t find hope. The fire and warmth has gone. My heart was numb.
There are many challenges in life, brethren; where the nature of the challenge is faith over feelings.
That situation led me to seek more of God regardless of what I felt. It reminded me of the sermon series entitled In the Darkest with God that I listened to 2 years ago which Pastor Noel Espinosa preached last 2010. Though I couldn’t seem to find hope, I listened to it again, and again, every sermon patiently, hoping to get help from God. I took His word, prayerfully took note of the messages that it may sink deep within. Praise God! God used it again by His grace. Truly, His mercy shines clearly in the darkest. It cut to the heart and it ministered to me.
The sermon series is on the 88th chapter of the book of Psalms. This Psalm stands out as a long lamentation with no break of hope. Some say that it should not be in the Scriptures. Unlike other Psalms we cannot find here any expression of joy or praise after series of cries. Its language is suffused with anguish and deep sorrow. Sometimes we dive down so low that we cannot seem to find God after a very high and joyful experience of Him.
Below are the four messages from Psalm 88, plus their outlines and some quotes derived from a clear exposition of the Scriptures that helped me and that can prepare us all from such periods in life that we are in the darkest. Indeed, even in the darkest we are in God.
- Troubles from God – Listen here.
- Puzzles for God – Listen here.
- Pleading with God – Listen here.
- Charges on God – Listen here.
God’s apparent withdrawal is to challenge our serious and diligent seeking of Him.Tweet
Troubles from God.
Verse: Psalm 88:1-9
Message: Our troubles may make God seem hard on us but we should still pray to Him.
The Psalmist is determined to pray no matter how hard God’s dealing with him is. Be prepared for troubles to come. When it comes, it will be an opportunity for the devil to tempt. You will doubt God, coldness and declension follows, then backsliding if you are not watchful. In spite of this, we should acknowledge the sovereignty of God and pray that our thoughts may be aligned with His. Even in the darkest don’t leave on praying.
Two components that define the Psalmist’s struggle
- A grudging recognition of Divine Sovereignty
- A pleading determination of prayer importunity
Puzzles for God.
Verse: Psalm 88:10-12
Message: God’s dealings with His saints sometimes have no sense of His glory but only He knows, we leave to Him the knowledge of that.
How can God be glorified in this situation? This seems to be the question that puzzles the Psalmist. He seeks answers from God. But though there’s seems to be no answer, he left it to God. God’s glory is the ultimate reason in all that He does. That’s enough for us to know in order to move forward. Not that if it will be good for us but if it will glorify God. But thanks be to God since He so decreed that our chief end, that is to glorify God is not divorced from our good and enjoyment of Him.
God’s glory shines even brighter in the revelation of Jesus Christ, so the Christians have even more pressing mandate to seek the glory of God in all things. We do not decide what will redound to His glory aside from what He says in His word. It takes a lot of maturity to acknowledge this, it takes a heart captivated by His word to bow down to His will. Our questions may still be questions till our dying day but we still have sufficient motivation, that is God’s glory alone. It is not wrong to have other motivations, there could be selfish ones, but examine them that they should serve the higher motive of glorifying God.
Three things about God’s glory in this Psalm
- God’s glory is absolute for explanation
- God’s glory is mysterious for calculation
- God’s glory is sufficient for motivation
Pleadings with God.
Verse: Psalm 88:13-14
Message: Pleadings with God must be practiced even when He seems to have abandoned us.
God appears to have abandoned and forsaken His saints in the darkest times. But even with that feeling, the Psalmist still pleaded with God. He is still gripped with doubt. He has a sense to plea but he still have a sense of being abandoned by God. This is a demonstration of the mystery of God’s dealing. God’s apparent withdrawal is to challenge our serious and diligent seeking of Him. There are times when we feel helpless under the sovereignty of God.
The day is won or lost on how you spend your morning with God.Ptr. Noel Espinosa
Two lessons about God’s dealing with His saints
- God appears to abandon His saints as a trial
- God will never abandon His saints as a promise
In our ministry, we will have a periodic experience of God’s withdrawal. A feeling of rejection can start a cycle of withdrawal. It can have a strong negativity. It will leave us vulnerable to the devil’s temptation. It may seem that God leaves us to ourselves in our spiritual exercises. No affirmation of His joy. It may be that throughout your life, you’ve been taking God for granted. So comes a period of rejection. But we should never stop in pleading with God as the Psalmist said, “…in the morning my prayer comes before you.”
Charges on God
Message: Expressing our honest feeling to God is the godly option rather than plastic piety.
Verse: Psalm 88:15-18
The Psalmist describes God’s wrath as fierce wrath. We can say that some of his words are decidedly impolite toward God. But he was writing these words under the inspiration of the Spirit. He is pursuing relentless honesty to God. Some will try to utter pious and polite statement despite the heaviness within than being honest. But be honest to God! Between you and God, the godly way is to express your feeling to God. God responds to honesty even when decidedly wrong, but condemns hypocrisy even when externally right. Genuine Christianity is that which has love for Christ.
Three things that honest feeling before God will do
- Honest feeling communes with God
- Honest feeling searches for Truth
- Honest feeling submits to Faith
Maturity is measured by our commitment to act on faith whatever our feelings are. That’s why we do not terminate on feelings. Feelings are important, we must pour it out to God. Affections are key to biblical Christianity, but we do not stop there. We act on faith even if it is against our feelings. We are to be honest to God about our feelings but ultimately our commitment is defined not by how we feel but what the word teaches us. Our feelings should not change but it should yield to faith in God.
These sermons were used by God to minister to me in the darkest hours. May you also find comfort in Him when that moment comes. You are in Christ, He shed His blood on the cross on your behalf. This is the truth! Don’t remove your affection from it. Respond to that truth of the word with a due feeling from the heart. Don’t believe this coldly! Warm your heart with this truth. He is praying that you may not fail. Keep on praying! Keep on pleading! Surely, there may be times when there is no joy and peace of mind but for the saints of God, there won’t be a time when you are not in God, even in the darkest.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
3 thoughts on “Darkest Hours”
Thank you for sharing how God used Psalm 88 in your life
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Amen. It really ministered to me. Ministers of the gospel really need it time to time.
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