Verse 18. "Lover and friend " - I have no comfort, and neither friend nor neiphbour to sympathize with me.
"Mine acquaintance into darkness. " - All have forsaken me; or ûjm y[dym meyuddai machsach, "Darkness is my companion." Perhaps he may refer to the death of his acquaintances; all were gone; there was none left to console him! That man has a dismal lot who has outlived all his old friends and acquaintances; well may such complain. In the removal of their friends they see little else than the triumphs of death. Khosroo, an eminent Persian poet, handles this painful subject with great delicacy and beauty in the following lines: - Ruftem sauee khuteereh bekerestem bezar Az Hijereh Doostan ke aseer fana shudend: Guftem Eeshah Kuja shudend? ve Khatyr Dad az sada jouab Eeshan Kuja! "Weeping, I passed the place where lay my friends Captured by death; in accents wild I cried, Where are they? And stern Fate, by Echoes voice, Returned in solemn sound the sad Where are they?" J. B. C.
ANALYSIS OF THE EIGHTY-EIGHTH PSALM
There are four parts in this Psalm: - I. A petition, ver. 1, 2.
II. The cause of this petition, his misery, which he describes, ver. 3-9.
III. The effects produced by this miserable condition:
1. A special prayer, ver. 10-12; 2. An expostulation with God for deliverance, ver. 10-12.
IV. A grievous complaint, ver. 14-18.
The psalmist offers his petition; but before he begins, he lays down four arguments why it should be admitted: - 1. His confidence and reliance on God: "O Lord God of my salvation." 2. His earnestness to prevail: "I have cried." 3. His assiduity: "Day and night." 4. His sincerity: "I have cried before thee." And then he tenders his request for audience: "Let my prayer come before thee, incline thine ear unto my cry." II. And then next he sets forth the pitiful condition he was in, that hereby he might move God to take compassion, which he amplifies several ways: - 1. From the weight and variety of his troubles; many they were, and pressed him to death. "For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draweth nigh to the grave." 2. From the danger of death in which he was.
Which is illustrated by three degrees: - 1. That he was moribundus, dying, no hope of life in him even by the estimate of all men: "I am counted with them that go down to the pit; I am as a man that hath no strength." 2. That he was plane mortuus, nearly dead; but as a dead man, "free among the dead;" freed from all the business of this life; as far separate from them as a dead man.
3. Yea, dead and buried: "Like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberedst no more;" i.e., to care for in this life; and "they are cut off from thy hand," i.e., thy providence, thy custody, as touching matter of this life.
And yet he farther amplifies his sad condition by two similitudes:-
1. Of a man in some deep dark dungeon: "Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps; " as was Jeremiah, Psa. 37.
2. Of a man in a wreck at sea, that is compassed with the waves, to which he compares God's anger: "Thy wrath lieth hard upon me.
and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves." One wave impels another. The recurrence of his troubles was perpetual; one no sooner gone but another succeeded.
And, to add to this his sorrow, his friends, whose visits in extremity used to alleviate the grief of a troubled soul, even these proved perfidious, and came not to him; he had no comfort with them; which was also God's doing, and thus augmented his grief.
The auxesis or augmentation is here very elegant:
1. "Thou hast put away mine acqllaintance from me." THOU.
2. "Thou hast made me an abomination to them." No less; an abomination.
3. "I am shut up, I cannot come forth." As a man in prison, I cannot come at them, and they will not come to me.
III. The effect of which grievous affliction was threefold: 1. An internal grief and wasting of the body; 2. An ardent affection in God; and 3. An expostulation with God.
1. "My eye mourns by reason of afflietion." An evidence that I am troubled and grieved to the heart, that my eye droops and fails; for when the animal and vital spirits suffer a decay, the eye will quickly, by her dimness, deadness, and dulness, discover it.
2. It produced an ardent affection, a continuance and assiduity in prayer, which is here made evident by the adjuncts.
1. His voice: "I have called daily upon thee." It was, 1. A cry; 2. It was continual.
2. By the extension of his hands: "I have stretched out my hands to thee." Men used to do so when they expected help; when they looked to receive; whence we sometimes say Lend me thy hand.
3. The third effect was, an expostulation with God, in which he presseth to spare his life from the inconvenience that might thereby happen viz., that he should be disabled to praise God and celebrate his name, as he was bound and desired to do, among the living: an argument used before, Psa. vi. 3. This argument, though it savours too much of human frailty, yet he thought by it to move God, who above all things is jealous of his own glory, which by his death he imagines will suffer loss; and therefore he asks: - 1. "Wilt thou show wonders among the dead?" That is, thy desire is to set forth thy honour, which cannot be done if I go to the grave, except by some miracle I should be raised from thence.
2. "Shall the dead arise again and praise thee?" It is the living that shall show forth thy praise, thy power, and goodness; thy fidelity in keeping thy promises to the sons of men. The dead, as dead, cannot do this; and they return not from the grave, except by miracle.
3. "Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in destruction? shall thy wonders be known in the dark, or thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?' Such is the grave, a place of oblivion; for Abraham is ignorant of us. The goodness and faithfulness of God, which he makes known to us in this life, are not known nor can be declared by the dead: the living see them; they have experience of them; and therefore he desires that his life may be spared to that end, lest if he die now that faculty should be taken from him; he should no longer be able to resound the praise of God, which is the end for which men ought to desire life.
IV. He returns to his complaint; and again repeats what he had said before, and almost in the same words, and gives three instances: - 1. In his prayer: "But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee." He prayed earnestly, early, not drowsily; for he did prevent God: he prayed, and would continue in prayer; and yet all in vain.
2. For God seems to be inexorable, of which he complains: "Lord, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?" Even the best of God's servants have sometimes been brought to that strait, that they have not had a clear sense of God's favour, but conceived themselves neglected and deserted by him, and discountenanced.
His second instance is, his present affliction, mentioned before, ver. 4-7: "I am afflicted and ready to die," which he here exaggerates: - 1. From the time and continuance of it; for he had borne it "even from his youth up." 2. From the cause. It did not proceed from any outward or human cause; that might have been borne and helped: but it was an affliction sent from God: "Thy terrors have I suffered;" it came from a sense of God's wrath.
3. From an uncomfortable effect. It wrought in this soul amazement, unrest, a perpetual trouble and astonishment: "Thy terrors have I suffered with a troubled mind: "I am distracted with them." He amplifies this wrath by the former similes, ver. 7; waves and water.
1. "Thy fierce wrath goes over me;" as waves over a man's head at sea.
"Thy terrors have cut me off," as a weaver's thrum.
2. "They came round about me like water; daily like water." 3. "They compassed me about together," as if they conspired my ruin: "all thy waves," ver. 7.
His third instance, which is the same, ver. 8. The perfidiousness and desertion of friends: a loving friend is some comfort in distress; but this he found not: "Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness." They appear no more to me to give me any counsel, help, or comfort, than if they were hidden in perpetual darkness.
His case, therefore, was most deplorable.