Psalm 88

A Cry from the Depths



Psalm 88 is one of the most intense laments in the Psalter, expressing deep despair and feeling of abandonment. It honestly voices human suffering, giving voice to feelings of despair and desolation. Yet, through the lens of the New Covenant, we can see how this lament foreshadows the sufferings of Christ and His feeling of abandonment on the cross.

Section 1: A Cry for Help (Verses 1-9)

"O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape; my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you."


Jesus himself, in the depths of His passion, cried out to God, feeling the weight of sin and God's wrath as He bore our sins on the cross (Matthew 27:46). In His ultimate act of salvation, Christ echoed the psalmist's feeling of despair and abandonment.

Talking Points


Section 2: A Feeling of Abandonment (Verses 10-18)

"Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness."


This feeling of abandonment and divine silence reflects Jesus' own experience on the cross, when He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). Yet, God's steadfast love was ultimately revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus, triumphing over death and darkness.

Talking Points



Psalm 88 is a profound expression of despair, a plea for help that appears to go unanswered, a feeling of divine abandonment that is difficult to reconcile with faith in a loving God. Yet, through the lens of the New Covenant, this psalm takes on profound meaning.

The feelings of despair and abandonment echo the sufferings of Christ on the cross, as He bore the weight of our sins and cried out in anguish. Yet, in His resurrection, we see the ultimate answer to the psalmist's cry. God's steadfast love is indeed declared in the grave, and His faithfulness is revealed in Christ's victory over death. Therefore, even in our deepest despair, we can have hope in Christ, who has shared in our sufferings and has triumphed over them.