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The Scriptorium

Alone and Rejected

But pointing forward in hope. Psalm 88.8-12

Man of Sorrows (4)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 88.4, 5
I am counted with those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man who has no strength,
Adrift among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And who are cut off from Your hand.

Sing Psalm 88.4, 5
(Picardy: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence)
Like a person thought to be dying, like a man whose strength is gone.
Like one with the slain now lying, like a dead and buried one:
For Your mercy I am sighing, cut off from Your hand and gone.

Read Psalm 88.8-12

Preparation
1. How would you describe the condition of the psalmist in these verses?

2. What does the psalmist regret about dying?

Meditation
I think we learn a bit more about the man Heman, as the sons of Korah put these words in his mouth. Recall that either he had already died and was being memorialized, or he was dying and this psalm was an homage to his life. This wise man from the tribe of Judah was known for many things, which the sons of Korah outline here. And what we learn of him continues to point us forward to Jesus.

Heman was a man of prayer and praise, who declared the lovingkindness of God and His faithfulness to His Word (vv. 9-11). He did wondrous works by the grace of God and spoke of His lovingkindness and righteousness (vv. 10-12), thus making him a faithful witness for the Lord. He was a man of friendships (v. 8), and a man for whom death was a condition to be despised (vv. 8, 9).

He knew what it was to be afflicted and rejected, and to be alone with His God in the throes of death.

He was a good man, and he would be missed. The sons of Korah don’t want us to forget him. But he was also a type of Jesus, Whose experience was much like that of Heman, before He was raised from the dead.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
If we look at these questions as merely temporal, they must be answered in the negative:
Will You work wonders for the dead?
Shall the dead arise and praise You?
Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?
Shall Your faithfulness be declared in the place of destruction?
Shall Your wonders be known in the dark?
Shall Your righteousness be known in the land of forgetfulness? (Ps. 88.10-12)

But, if looked at spiritually, they will be answered in the affirmative!

Jesus’ work changed the negative into a positive for those who believe.
Trusting in our sure salvation we can answer these questions resoundingly “Yes!”

In Proverbs 30, Agur parsed his questions like this:
“Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?” (Prov. 30.1-4)

If you don’t know, none of the questions have a believable answer.
But if you do know, you have The Answer.
It is God, and His Son is Jesus.

As the sons of Korah asked questions, so did Agur.
And these questions will have decisively different answers, depending upon our frame of reference.

We can answer with confidence because we know Whom we have believed and are persuaded that He is able (2 Tim. 2.12) to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Jesus… (Heb. 7.25).

Yes. God will work wonders for the dead, and we will arise and praise Him. (1 Thess. 4.16)
Yes. His lovingkindness and His faithfulness will be declared. (Ps. 19.1; 1 Jn. 1.3)
Yes. His wonders are known in the dark. (Is. 9.2)
Yes. His righteousness will be remembered. (Lk. 22.19; 2 Cor. 11.24)

Reflection
1. Since in Jesus we can answer all these questions “Yes!”, what does this suggest about the attitude and outlook we should take into each day?

2. People who don’t know Jesus are stuck with the “No!” answers. What is our responsibility toward them?

3. What do we learn from Heman and the sons of Korah about maintaining continuous communion with the Lord?

See how deep those terrors wounded the psalmist. If friends are put far from us by providences, or death, we have reason to look upon it as affliction. Such was the calamitous state of a good man. But the pleas here used were peculiarly suited to Christ. And we are not to think that the holy Jesus suffered for us only at Gethsemane and on Calvary. His whole life was labor and sorrow; he was afflicted as never man was, from his youth up. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), NKJV Commentary on Psalm 88.10-18

Closing Prayer: Psalm 88.6-12
Pray that God will renew your worship, your witness, your relationships, and your walk with Him. Ask Him to help you live like one who has been alive from the dead (Eph. 2.1-10).

Sing Psalm 88.6-12
(Picardy: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence)
In the lowest pit You have set me, in a deep and darkening place.
All Your holy wrath has beset me, overwhelming me in waves.
All my former friends forget me; on me now they look with hate.

All day long I cry in vain, Lord, as my eye is wasting away.
Can a dead man sing Your praise, Lord? Can I testify from the grave?
Will I tell Your love again, Lord? Will I sing Your pow’r and grace?

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to our summary of last week’s study by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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