Psalm 88:15

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 15. I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up. His affliction had now lasted so long that he could hardly remember when it commenced; it seemed to him as if he had been at death's door ever since he was a child. This was no doubt an exaggeration of a depressed spirit, and yet perhaps Heman may have been born under the cypress, and have been all his days afflicted with some chronic disease or bodily infirmity; there are holy men and women whose lives are a long apprenticeship to patience, and these deserve both our sympathy and our reverence, -- our reverence we have ventured to say, for since the Saviour became the acquaintance of grief, sorrow has become honourable in believers' eyes. A life long sickness may by divine grace prove to be a life long blessing. Better suffer from childhood to old age than to be let alone to find pleasure in sin.

While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted. Long use had not blunted the edge of sorrow, God's terrors had not lost their terror; rather had they become more overwhelming and had driven the man to despair. He was unable to collect his thoughts, he was so tossed about that he could not judge and weigh his own condition in a calm and rational manner. Sickness alone will thus distract the mind; and when a sense of divine anger is added thereto, it is not to be wondered at if reason finds it hard to hold the reins. How near akin to madness soul depression sometimes may be, it is not our province to decide; but we speak what we do know when we say that a feather weight might be sufficient to turn the scale at times. Thank God O ye tempted ones who yet retain your reason! Thank him that the devil himself cannot add that feather while the Lord stands by to adjust all things. Even though we have grazed upon the rock of utter distraction, we bless the infinitely gracious Steersman that the vessel is seaworthy yet, and answers to her helm: tempest tossed from the hour of her launch even to this hour, yet she mounts the waves and defies the hurricane.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 15. I am afflicted. (Vulg. Pauper sum ego.) God more readily hears the poor, and gives himself wholly to them. First, his eyes, to behold them, Psalms 11:5 , "His eyes behold the poor." Secondly, his ears, to hear them, Psalms 10:17 , "Thou wilt prepare their hearts, thou wilt cause thine ears to hear." Thirdly, his hand, to help, Psalms 107:41 , "Yet setteth he the poor on high from his affliction." Fourthly, his breast and his arms, to receive the fugitives and those in peril, Psalms 60:9 , "The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed." Fifthly, memory to recollect for them, Psalms 9:18 , "The needy shall not alway be forgotten." Sixthly, intellect, to care for them, and watch over their comfort, Psalms 40:17 , "But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me." Seventhly, goodwill, to love their prayers, Psalms 22:24 , "For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither hath he hid his face from him." Eighthly and lastly, he gives himself wholly to them, to preserve them, Psalms 72:13 , "He shall save the souls of the needy." --Le Blanc.

Verse 15. I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up. How much some suffer! I have seen a child, who at the age of twenty months had probably suffered more bodily pain than the whole congregation of a thousand souls, where its parents worshipped. Asaph seems to have been of a sad heart. Jeremiah lived and died lamenting. Heman seems to have been of the same lot and of the same turn of mind. --William S. Plumer.

Verse 15. -- (First clause). We found the heat more oppressive this day than we had yet experienced it. The hillocks of sand between which we were slowly moving at the usual camel's pace, reflected the sun's rays upon us, till our faces were glowing as if we had been by the side of a furnace ... Perhaps it was through this part of the desert of Shur that Hagar wandered, intending to go back to her native country; and it may have been by this way that Joseph carried the young child Jesus when they fled into the land of Egypt. Even in tender infancy the sufferings of the Redeemer began, and he complains, "I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up." Perhaps these scorching beams beat upon his infant brow, and this sand laden breeze dried up his infant lips, while the heat of the curse of God began to melt his heart within. Even in the desert we see the suretyship of Jesus. --R.M. Macheyne's "Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews."

Verse 15. From my youth up. That is, for a long time; -- so long, that the remembrance of it seems to go back to my very childhood. My whole life has been a life of trouble and sorrow, and I have not strength to bear it longer. It may have been literally true that the author of the Psalm had been a man always afflicted; or, this may be the language of strong emotion, meaning that his sufferings had been of so long continuance that they seemed to him to have begun in his very boyhood. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 15. While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted. The word doth not signify properly the distraction of a man that is mad, but the distraction of a man that is in doubt. It is the distraction of a man who knows not what to do, not of a man who knows not what he doth, and yet that distraction doth often lead to a degree of this; for a man who is much troubled to know what to do, and cannot know it, grows at last to do he knows not what. -- Joseph Caryl.

Verse 15. While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted. The Psalm hath this striking peculiarity in it, namely, that it not only hath reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, and him alone; but that he himself is the sole speaker from the beginning to the end. And although the whole of the Psalms are of him, and concerning him, more or less, and he is the great object and subject of all; yet, secondarily and subordinately we meet with many parts in the Psalms where his church is also noticed, and becomes concerned, from union with him, in what is said. But in this Psalm there is allusion to no other. (We differ from Dr. Hawker in his exclusion of the saints from this Psalm. Where the Head is the members are never far away. --ED.) All is of him and his incommunicable work. All is of the Son of God in our nature. It contains an account of the cries of the Lord Jesus "when in the days of his flesh he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears."

The soul agonies of Christ even from the moment of his incarnation to his death, may be contemplated, or read, from the sacred records of Scripture, but cannot come within the province of any created power to conceive, much less unfold. It is remarkable that whatever the Lord meant to convey by the phrase, "I am distracted", this is the only place in the whole Bible where the word "distracted" is used. Indeed the inspired writers have varied their terms of expression; when speaking of Christ's sufferings, as if unable to convey any full idea. Matthew renders it that the Lord Jesus said: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death!" ( Matthew 26:38 .) Mark describes him as "being sore amazed, and very heavy!" ( Mark 14:33 .) And Luke: his "being in an agony!" ( Luke 22:44 .) But here we must rest, in point of apprehension, for we can proceed no further. --Robert Hawker.

Verse 15. -- O Lord, the monotony of my changeless days oppresses me, the constant weariness of my body weighs me down. I am weary of gazing on the same dull objects: I am tired of going through the same dull round day after day; the very inanimate things about my room, and the patterns on the walls, seem quickened with the waste of my life, and, through the power of association, my own thoughts and my own pain come back upon me from them with a dull reverberation. My heart is too tired to hope; I dare not look forward to the future; I expect nothing from the days to come, and yet my heart sinks at the thought of the grey waste of years before me; and I wonder how I shall endure, whether I shall faint by the way, before I reach my far off home. --From "Christ the Consoler."

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 15.

  1. The afflictions of the righteous may be long continued though severe. "I am afflicted, etc., from my youth up."
  2. Severe though long continued.

    1. Painful, -- "afflicted."
    2. Threatening, -- "ready to die."
    3. Terrific, -- "suffer thy terrors."
    4. Distracting, -- "I am", etc. --G.R.

Verse 15. -- The personal sufferings of Christ for the salvation of his people. -- Sermon by Robert Hawker. Works, Vol. 4. pg 91.