Psalm 88:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. For my soul is full of troubles. I am satiated and nauseated with them. Like a vessel full to the brim with vinegar, my heart is filled up with adversity till it can hold no more. He had his house full and his hands full of sorrow; but, worse than that, he had his heart full of it. Trouble in the soul is the soul of trouble. A little soul trouble is pitiful; what must it be to be sated with it? And how much worse still to have your prayers return empty when your soul remains full of grief.

And my life draweth nigh unto the grave. He felt as if he must die, indeed he thought himself half dead already. All his life was going, his spiritual life declined, his mental life decayed, his bodily life flickered; he was nearer dead than alive. Some of us can enter into this experience, for many a time have we traversed this valley of death shade, aye and dwelt in it by the month together. Really to die and be with Christ will be a gala day's enjoyment compared with our misery when a worse than physical death has cast its dreadful shadow over us. Death would be welcomed as a relief by those whose depressed spirits make their existence a living death. Are good men ever permitted to suffer thus? Indeed they are; and some of them are even all their life time subject to bondage. O Lord, Be pleased to set free thy prisoners of hope! Let, none of thy mourners imagine that a strange thing has happened unto him, but rather rejoice as he sees the footprints of brethren who have trodden this desert before.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. My soul is full of troubles. The Lord Jesus emptied himself of glory, that he might be full of trouble. His soul, which was free from human sin, was full of human troubles, that we who are full of sin might be free from trouble; his life drew nigh to the terrors of the unseen world, that we might not be its spoil and prey. --"Plain Commentary."

Verse 3. My soul is full of troubles. Hear into what a depth of spiritual distress three worthy servants of God in these later times were plunged and pressed down under the sense of God's anger for sin. Blessed Mistress Brettergh upon her last bed was horribly hemmed in with the sorrows of death; the very grief of hell laid hold upon her soul; a roaring wilderness of woe was within her, as she confessed of herself. She said, her sin had made her a prey to Satan; and wished that she had never been born, or that she had been made any other creature rather than a woman. She cried out many times, woe, woe, woe, etc.; a weak, a woeful, a wretched, a forsaken woman; with tears continually trickling from her eyes. Master Peacock, that man of God, in that his dreadful visitation and desertion, recounting some smaller sins, burst out in these words: "And for these", saith he, "I feel now a hell in my conscience." Upon other occasions he cried out, groaning most pitifully, "Oh me, wretch! Oh mine heart is miserable! Oh, oh, miserable and woeful! The burden of my sin lieth so heavy upon me, I doubt it will break my heart. Oh how woeful and miserable is my state that I am hunted by hell hounds!" When bystanders asked if he would pray, he answered, "I cannot". Suffer us, say they, to pray for you. "Take not", replied he, "the name of God in vain, by praying for a reprobate."

What grievous pangs, what sorrowful torments, what boiling heats of the fire of hell that blessed saint of God, John Glover, felt inwardly in his spirit, saith Foxe, no speech outwardly is able to express. Being young, saith he, I remember I was once or twice with him, whom partly by his talk I perceived, and partly by mine own eyes saw to be so worn and consumed by the space of five years, that neither almost any brooking of meat, quietness of sleep, pleasure of life, yea, and almost no kind of senses was left in him. Upon apprehension of some backsliding, he was so perplexed, that if he had been in the deepest pit of hell, he could almost have despaired no more of his salvation; in which intolerable griefs of mind, saith he, although he neither had, nor could have any joy of his meat, yet was he compelled to eat against his appetite, to the end to defer the time of his damnation so long as he might; thinking with himself, but that he must needs be thrown into hell, the breath being once out of his body. I dare not pass out of this point, lest some child of God should be here discouraged, before I tell you that every one of these three was at length blessedly recovered, and did rise most gloriously out of their several depths of most extreme spiritual misery, before their end.

Hear, therefore, Mistress Brettergh's triumphant songs and ravishments of spirit, after the return of her well beloved: "O Lord Jesus, dost thou pray for me? O blessed and sweet Saviour, how wonderful! How wonderful are thy mercies! Oh thy love is unspeakable, thou hast dealt so graciously with me! O my Lord and my God, blessed be thy name for evermore, which hast showed me the path of life. Thou didst, O Lord, hide thy face from me for a little season, but with everlasting mercy thou hast had compassion on me. And now, blessed Lord, thy comfortable presence is come; yea, Lord, thou hast had respect unto thine handmaid, and art come with fulness of joy, and abundance of consolation. O blessed be thy name, my Lord and my God. O the joys that I feel in my soul! They be wonderful. O Father, how merciful and marvellously gracious art thou unto me! yea, Lord, I feel thy mercy and I am assured of thy love; and so certain am I thereof, as Thou art the God of truth, even so sure do I know myself to be thine, O Lord my God, and this my soul knoweth right well. Blessed be the Lord that hath thus comforted me, and hath brought me now to a place more sweet unto me than the garden of Eden. Oh the joy, the delightsome joy that I feel! O praise the Lord for his mercies, and for this joy which my soul feels full well; praise his name forever more."

Hear with what heavenly calmness and sweet comforts Master Peacock's heart was refreshed and ravished when the storm was over: "Truly, my heart and soul", saith he, (when the tempest was something allayed) "have been far led and deeply troubled with temptations, and stings of conscience, but I thank God they are eased in good measure. Wherefore I desire that I be not branded with the note of a castaway or reprobate. Such questions, oppositions, and all tending thereto, I renounce. Concerning mine inconsiderate speeches in my temptation, I humbly and heartily ask mercy of God for them all." Afterward by little, and little, more light did arise in his heart, and he brake out into such speeches as these: "I do, God be praised, feel such comfort from that, what shall I call it?" "Agony", said one that stood by. "Nay", quoth he, "that is too little; that had I five hundred worlds, I could not make satisfaction for such an issue. Oh, the sea is not more full of water, nor the sun of light, than the Lord of mercy; yea, his mercies are ten thousand times more. What great cause have I to magnify the great goodness of God, that hath humbled such a wretched miscreant, and of so base condition, to an estate so glorious and stately. The Lord hath honoured me with his goodness! I am sure he hath provided a glorious kingdom for me. The joy that I feel in mine heart is incredible." For the third, (namely, John Glover) hear Mr. Foxe: "Though this good servant of God suffered many years so sharp temptations, and strong buffeting of Satan; yet the Lord, who graciously preserved him all the while, not only at last did rid him out of all discomfort, but also framed him thereby to such mortification of life, as the like lightly hath not been seen; in such sort, as he being like one placed in heaven already, and dead in this world both in word and meditation, led a life altogether celestial, abhorring in his mind all profane doings." --Robert Bolton (1572-1631), in, "Instructions for a right Comforting afflicted Consciences."

Verse 3. My life. The Hebrew word rendered life is in the plural number, as in Ge 2:7 3:14,17 6:17 7:15 et al. Why the plural was used as applicable to life cannot now be known with certainty. It may have been to accord with the fact, that man has two kinds of life; -- the animal life, -- or life in common with the inferior creation; and intellectual, or higher life, -- the life of the soul. The meaning here is, that he was about to die; or that his life or lives approached that state when the grave closes over us; the extinction of the mere animal life; and the separation of the soul -- the immortal part -- from the body. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 3. The grave. The word which is rendered "hell" in the Prayer Book translation, and "the grave" in the Bible version, and which is usually translated either as hell or the grave, is in the Hebrew laf and in the Greek "Hades." "Hades" signifies "the unseen world." The word "Sheol" is literally "the Devouring, or the Insatiable." (Compare Habakkuk 2:5 ) "who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied"; and also ( Proverbs 3:15-16 .) "Sheol" seems to have presented itself to the thoughts of the ancient Hebrews as a gloomy, silent, inevitable, and mysterious abode, situated within the earth, whither the souls of the departed were compelled to repair and to dwell, upon their being separated from the body. ( Isaiah 14:9-20 ). They believed that the spirits of all human kind were contained there in a state of waiting, and there especially dwelt the souls of the giants before the flood ( 1 Peter 3:19-20 ), and of the great ones of old, the Rephaim, whom they pictured to themselves as fearful and gigantic spectres (Compare Proverbs 2:18 ). These ideas became modified and developed with the increasing clearness of divine teaching; and they divided the abode of the dead into different states of hope and comfort, which they called Abraham's bosom and paradise ( Luke 16:22-23 23:43); and of misery and suffering, ( Proverbs 3:1 ). Life and immortality were brought to light by the Saviour, and also judgment and Hell -- the Gehenna of everlasting punishment, as distinguished from the Unseen World. (Compare Revelation 20:13-14 ). From these speculations of Jewish Rabbis respecting Sheol the church of Rome appears to have developed the doctrine of Purgatory. It should be added that it was a received opinion among the followers of Rabbinical teaching, that all of the seed of Abraham, though they would be dwellers in Sheol before the general resurrection, would finally escape the Gehenna of everlasting fire. The rich man ( Luke 16:23 ) is in Hades in torments when he calls to Abraham his father. --"Plain Commentary."

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3.

  1. A good man is exposed to inward troubles.

    1. To soul troubles.
    2. To the soul full of troubles.
  2. To outward troubles. "My life", etc.

    1. From outward persecutions.
    2. From inward griefs.
  3. To both inward and outward troubles at the same time. "Soul full", etc., "and my life", etc. --G.R.