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Psalm 88

Darkness Is My Friend

The Headings
A song. A psalm. By the Sons of Korah.
For the choir director. According to mahalath leannoth.[a]
A maskil[b] of Heman the Ezrahite.

Opening Plea

O Lord, the God who saves me, by day I cry out.
At night I cry before you.
May my prayer come before you.
Turn your ear to my cry.

The Problem

Indeed, my soul has had its fill of troubles,
and my life has arrived at the grave.
I am treated like those who go down to the pit.
I am like someone without strength.
I am turned loose with the dead.
I am like the slain who lie in the grave,
like the ones you do not remember anymore,
like those who are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the lowest pit,
in dark places, in the depths.
Your wrath presses against me. Interlude
You have battered me with all your breakers.
You have distanced my acquaintances from me.
You have made me repulsive to them.
I am shut in and I cannot get out.
My eyesight grows dim from affliction.

I call to you, O Lord, every day.
I spread out my hands to you.

The Darkness of Death

10 Is it for the dead that you do a miracle? Interlude
Do the spirits of the dead rise up and praise you?
11 Is your mercy declared in the tomb,
your faithfulness in decay?
12 Is your wonderful work known in the darkness?
Is your righteousness known in the land of forgetfulness?
13 But I cry to you, O Lord,
and in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, O Lord, do you reject my soul?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 I have been afflicted
and I have been close to death since my youth.
I have endured your terrors.
I am in despair.
16 Your rage has swept over me.
Your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like water.
They have battered me completely.
18 You have distanced my loved one and friend from me.
My only friend is darkness.


  1. Psalm 88:1 Probably the name of the tune, “Suffering of Affliction”
  2. Psalm 88:1 A maskil is a type of hymn. It means a song that makes one wise or a skillful song.

Psalm 88[a]

A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For the director of music. According to mahalath leannoth.[b] A maskil[c] of Heman the Ezrahite.

Lord, you are the God who saves me;(A)
    day and night I cry out(B) to you.
May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.

I am overwhelmed with troubles(C)
    and my life draws near to death.(D)
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;(E)
    I am like one without strength.(F)
I am set apart with the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
    who are cut off(G) from your care.

You have put me in the lowest pit,
    in the darkest depths.(H)
Your wrath(I) lies heavily on me;
    you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.[d](J)
You have taken from me my closest friends(K)
    and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined(L) and cannot escape;(M)
    my eyes(N) are dim with grief.

I call(O) to you, Lord, every day;
    I spread out my hands(P) to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
    Do their spirits rise up and praise you?(Q)
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
    your faithfulness(R) in Destruction[e]?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
    or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

13 But I cry to you for help,(S) Lord;
    in the morning(T) my prayer comes before you.(U)
14 Why, Lord, do you reject(V) me
    and hide your face(W) from me?

15 From my youth(X) I have suffered(Y) and been close to death;
    I have borne your terrors(Z) and am in despair.(AA)
16 Your wrath(AB) has swept over me;
    your terrors(AC) have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;(AD)
    they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend(AE) and neighbor—
    darkness is my closest friend.


  1. Psalm 88:1 In Hebrew texts 88:1-18 is numbered 88:2-19.
  2. Psalm 88:1 Title: Possibly a tune, “The Suffering of Affliction”
  3. Psalm 88:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
  4. Psalm 88:7 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 10.
  5. Psalm 88:11 Hebrew Abaddon