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READING: Psalms 87-88 – The Joy of Zion & Prayer for Help in Despondency


VERSE FOR THE DAY: “Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God…. Let my prayer come before You; incline your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles” (Psalm 87:3; 88:2-3a)

These Psalms are a study in contrasts; each is a Psalm of the Korahites, the Levitical clan in charge of much of the Temple music.

Psalm 87 is about the joy of living in Zion.The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” This was the city of David, the man after God’s own heart. David took the Jebusite fortress of Zion after he became the King of all Israel after the civil war between the house of Saul and the house of David. He made this newly captured city of Jerusalem the capital of Israel (see 2 Samuel 5:6-10).

The LORD Himself “records, as he registers the peoples, ‘This one was born there”.’ He loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Israel.

Psalm 88, on the other hand, is a prayer for a despondent soul. “Sheol” is the grave as is the Pit. The psalmist says, “My life draws near to Sheol, I am counted among those who go down to the Pit.” He has no help, like those forsaken and like the slain lying in the grave.

Over and again, the Psalmist brings up morbid themes. He complains that God’s wrath lies heavily upon him, that God has put him in the Pit, where He “overwhelms me with all His waves.”

This Psalmist does not say, “The LORD is my shepherd… Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” Nor does he say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” He says, “You have caused my companions to shun me; You’ve made me a thing of horror to them

“In the morning my prayer comes before You. O LORD, why do you cast me off? Why do You hide your face from me?” He says he is wretched and close to death and that he has been that way from his youth up. “I suffer Your terrors; I am desperate.”

All of these are classic symptoms of depression. Feeling trapped, hemmed in with no way to escape, he blames God for his misery. There are many Psalms of lament, but most of them close on a happier note. Look at Psalm 22, which describes Jesus’ crucifixion, but which also from verse 21b-31 is a song of praise and blessings. Psalm 88 has nothing like that in it.

So, why is this Psalm in the Bible? Does it have any redeeming value? Yes, it does. The Psalmist, though he accuses God of treating him poorly, is persistent in his prayers, just as Jesus told his parable of the unjust judge who finally gave justice to the persistent widow, Jesus could have had this Psalm in mind when He told that parable.

Keep praying, even when you think no one is listening.

Count your blessings.

God is love and is patient, giving you time to repent.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++:

PRAY FOR YOURSELF:

Father, I ask for Your joy, but I know that life is not always blue skies and rainbows. Give me more days of Joy than I have of sadness is my prayer, in Jesus’ holy Name, AMEN!;

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)

Father, I pray for all who read these words that we may each learn to balance our lives between sunshine and shadows. None of us are joyful every day; nor are we sad every day Let us learn to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet he was a man who enjoyed life and certainly lifted the spirits of many. My prayer is that we may be more like Him, in His holy name I pray, AMEN! 

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