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A Prayer for Help in Despair

A song. A psalm of the sons of Korah.

For the music director; according to Mahalath Leannoth.

A maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.[a]

88 O Yahweh, God of my salvation,
I cry out by day and through the night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full with troubles,
and my life approaches Sheol.
I am reckoned with those descending to the pit.
I am like a man[b] without strength,[c]
set free[d] among the dead,
like the slain lying in the grave,
whom you no longer remember,
even those cut off from your hand.
You have set me in the pit below,
in dark places, in the depths.
Your wrath presses upon me,
and you afflict me with all your waves. Selah
You have removed my acquaintances far from me.
You have made me detestable[e] to them.
I am confined and cannot go out.
My eye languishes from misery.
I call on you, O Yahweh, every day;
I spread out my hands[f] to you.
10 Do you work wonders[g] for the dead?
Or do the departed spirits[h] rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your loyal love told in the grave,
or your faithfulness in the underworld?[i]
12 Are your wonders[j] known in the darkness,
or your righteousness[k] in the land of forgetfulness?
13 But as for me, I cry for help to you, O Yahweh,
and in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why do you reject my soul, O Yahweh?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 I am afflicted and perishing from my youth.
I bear your terrors. I am distraught.[l]
16 Your burning anger has passed over me;
your sudden fears have destroyed me.
17 They surround me like water all the day;
they circle about me altogether.
18 You have removed loved one and friend far from me,
my acquaintances far from my darkness.


  1. Psalm 88:1 The Hebrew Bible counts the superscription as the first verse of the psalm; the English verse number is reduced by one
  2. Psalm 88:4 The Hebrew suggests a strong, vigorous man
  3. Psalm 88:4 Or “without help”
  4. Psalm 88:5 Or “forsaken”
  5. Psalm 88:8 Hebrew “an abomination”
  6. Psalm 88:9 Hebrew “palms”
  7. Psalm 88:10 Hebrew “wonder”
  8. Psalm 88:10 Hebrew rephaim, sometimes translated “shades”; the weakened state of those who have died
  9. Psalm 88:11 Hebrew abaddon, the place of destruction
  10. Psalm 88:12 Hebrew “wonder”
  11. Psalm 88:12 Or “deed of justice”
  12. Psalm 88:15 Hebrew meaning uncertain