Psalm 88:6

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 6. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. What a collection of forcible metaphors, each one expressive of the utmost grief. Heman compared his forlorn condition to an imprisonment in a subterranean dungeon, to confinement in the realms of the dead, and to a plunge into the abyss. None of the similes are strained. The mind can descend far lower than the body, for it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour. It is grievous to the good man to see the Lord whom he loves laying him in the sepulchre of despondency; piling nightshade upon him, putting out all his candles, and heaping over him solid masses of sorrow; evil from so good a hand seems evil indeed, and yet if faith could but be allowed to speak she would remind the depressed spirit that it is better to fall into the hand of the Lord than into the hands of man, and moreover she would tell the despondent heart that God never placed a Joseph in a pit without drawing him up again to fill a throne; that he never caused a horror of great darkness to fall upon an Abraham without revealing his covenant to him; and never cast even a Jonah into the deeps without preparing the means to land him safely on dry land. Alas, when under deep depression the mind forgets all this, and is only conscious of its unutterable misery; the man sees the lion but not the honey in its carcass, he feels the thorns but he cannot smell the roses which adorn them. He who now feebly expounds these words knows within himself more than he would care or dare to tell of the abysses of inward anguish. He has sailed round the Cape of Storms, and has drifted along by the dreary headlands of despair. He has groaned out with one of old -- "My bones are pierced in me in the night season; and my sinews take no rest. I go morning without the sun. Terrors are turned upon me, they pursue my soul as the wind." Those who know this bitterness by experience will sympathise, but from others it would be idle to expect pity, nor would their pity be worth the having if it could be obtained. It is an unspeakable consolation that our Lord Jesus knows this experience, right well, having, with the exception of the sin of it, felt it all and more than all in Gethsemane when he was exceeding sorrowful even unto death.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 6. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, etc. He expands his meaning by another similitude. For he compares himself to a captive who has been cast into a deep, foul, dark, and slimy pit, where he is shut up and plunged in filth and darkness, having not a remnant of hope and life; after the manner of Jeremiah's sufferings. Jeremiah 37:1-21 . By this simile he means that he was in the greatest anxieties and sorrows of mind, destitute of every hope and sense of consolation, and that the terrors of death continually increased and augmented. --Mollerus.

Verse 6. When a saint is under terrible impressions of Jehovah's infinite wrath, he cannot but be under great horror of conscience, and in perplexing depths of mental trouble. The sense which he hath of avenging wrath, occasions a conflict in his spirit, inexpressibly agonizing and terrible. When his troubled conscience is inflamed, by a sense of the fiery indignation of God Almighty, the more be thinks of him as his infinite enemy, the more he is dismayed: every thought of Him, brings doleful tidings, and pours oil upon the raging flame. Trouble of conscience for sin, is indeed very disquieting; but, a sense of the vindictive wrath of God, kindled in the conscience, is still more dreadful. No words can express the direful anguish, which the disconsolate soul then feels. The Christian cannot at that time think so much as one quiting, one cheering thought. What he first thinks of is tormenting to his wounded spirit: he changes that thought for another, and that is still more tormenting. He finds himself entangled, as in the midst of a thicket of thorns so that, which way soever he turns himself, he is pierced and grieved afresh. This dismal thought often arises in his troubled mind, -- That if death were, in his present condition, to surprise and cut him off, he should sink forever and ever, under the intolerable wrath of the infinite Jehovah. The most exquisite torment of body is almost nothing, in comparison of the anguish of his spirit at such times. Oh! how inconceivable is the anguish, the agony, especially of a holy soul, when it is conflicting with the tremendous wrath of the eternal God! The bodily torture even of crucifixion, could not extort from the holy Jesus the smallest sigh or complaint; but the sense of his Father's wrath in his soul, wrung from him that doleful outcry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" --John Colquhoun, in "A Treatise on Spiritual Comfort." 1814.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 6-7.

  1. What the afflictions of the people of God appear to be to themselves.

    1. Extreme, -- "laid me in the lowest pit."
    2. Inexplicable, -- "in darkness."
    3. Humiliating, -- "in the deeps."
    4. Severe, -- "thy wrath lieth hard."
    5. Exhaustive, -- "afflicted with all thy waves."
  2. What they are in reality.

    1. Not extreme but light.
    2. Not inexplicable, but according to the will of God.
    3. Not humiliating, but elevating. "Humble yourselves under", etc.
    4. Not severe but gentle. Not in anger but in love.
    5. Not exhaustive but partial. Not all thy waves, but a few ripples only. The slight motion in the harbour when there is a boisterous ocean beyond. --G.R.