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Ps 88:1-18. Upon Mahalath--either an instrument, as a lute, to be used as an accompaniment (Leannoth, "for singing") or, as others think, an enigmatic title (see on Ps 5:1, Ps 22:1, and Ps 45:1, titles), denoting the subject--that is, "sickness or disease, for humbling," the idea of spiritual maladies being often represented by disease (compare Ps 6:5, 6; 22:14, 15, &c.). On the other terms, see on Ps 42:1 and Ps 32:1. Heman and Ethan (see on Ps 89:1, title) were David's singers (1Ch 6:18, 33; 15:17), of the family of Kohath. If the persons alluded to (1Ki 4:31; 1Ch 2:6), they were probably adopted into the tribe of Judah. Though called a song, which usually implies joy (Ps 83:1), both the style and matter of the Psalm are very despondent; yet the appeals to God evince faith, and we may suppose that the word "song" might be extended to such compositions.
1, 2. Compare on the terms used, Ps 22:2; 31:2.
8. Both cut off from sympathy and made hateful to friends (Ps 31:11).
10. shall the dead--the remains of ghosts.
14. On the terms (Ps 27:9; 74:1; 77:7).
16, 17. the extremes of anguish and despair are depicted.