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Psalm 88[a]

A Despairing Lament

A song; a psalm of the Korahites. For the leader; according to Mahalath. For singing; a maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.


Lord, the God of my salvation, I call out by day;
    at night I cry aloud in your presence.(A)
Let my prayer come before you;
    incline your ear to my cry.(B)
[b]For my soul is filled with troubles;(C)
    my life draws near to Sheol.
I am reckoned with those who go down to the pit;
    I am like a warrior without strength.
My couch is among the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave.
You remember them no more;
    they are cut off from your influence.
You plunge me into the bottom of the pit,
    into the darkness of the abyss.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me;
    all your waves crash over me.(D)


Because of you my acquaintances shun me;
    you make me loathsome to them;(E)
Caged in, I cannot escape;
10     my eyes grow dim from trouble.

All day I call on you, Lord;
    I stretch out my hands to you.
11 [c]Do you work wonders for the dead?
    Do the shades arise and praise you?(F)


12 Is your mercy proclaimed in the grave,
    your faithfulness among those who have perished?[d]
13 Are your marvels declared in the darkness,
    your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?


14 But I cry out to you, Lord;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
15 Why do you reject my soul, Lord,
    and hide your face from me?
16 I have been mortally afflicted since youth;
    I have borne your terrors and I am made numb.
17 Your wrath has swept over me;
    your terrors have destroyed me.(G)
18 All day they surge round like a flood;
    from every side they encircle me.
19 Because of you friend and neighbor shun me;(H)
    my only friend is darkness.


  1. Psalm 88 A lament in which the psalmist prays for rescue from the alienation of approaching death. Each of the three stanzas begins with a call to God (Ps 88:2, 10, 14) and complains of the death that separates one from God. The tone is persistently grim.
  2. 88:4–8 In imagination the psalmist already experiences the alienation of Sheol.
  3. 88:11–13 The psalmist seeks to persuade God to act out of concern for divine honor: the shades give you no worship, so keep me alive to offer you praise.
  4. 88:12 Perished: lit., “Abaddon,” the deepest part of Sheol.