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Psalm 88:1-18


Intro:  Out of the 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms, this is without doubt, the saddest of them all.  The very words of this Psalm are literally heart breaking.  We have here before us, a man who literally does not want to continue living.  He wants to die, v.15.  I suppose that verse 15 is the key verse to the chapter. 

      The root of his problem stems from his youth, v. 15.   No one knows for sure, but it is possible that the Psalmist is suffering from leprosy! Notice his words in verses 3-7; 8-9; 15-18. Whatever his “affliction” is, he sees it as the chastisement of the Lord on his life, v. 7, 16. This may or may not have been the case, but it was not uncommon for God to afflict those who sinned against great light with leprosy. There are three occasions mentioned in the Old Testament.

1.  King Uzziah for sinning against the Lord’s Sanctuary – 2 Chron. 26:16-21.

2.  Elisha’s servant Gehazi for sinning against God’s Salvation – 2 Kings 5:27.

3.  Moses’ sister Miriam for sinning against God’s Servant – Num. 12:1-15.

      I want to draw our attention to this man and his problems today.  I want to say that he is a very defeated, discouraged and depressed man.  Here is how he sees his life.

1.  He Believes That He Has No Future - (V.1-7; v.3-4) To be without hope is devastating.

2.  He Believes That He Has No Friends - (v.8)  Loneliness is a killer, (Ill. $5.00 per half hour just to listen; Ill. Lady who listened to her radio to hear the announcer say, “We bid you a very good evening.”  Ill. In Japan lifestyles have become so hectic that a strange company has been formed.  It is now possible to rent a family for events like birthdays and Christmas.  The Christian is never truly alone!  (Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20; John 14:18)

3.  He Believes That He Has No Foundation - (v.9-12)  He feels that he has no hope, and nothing to hold on to.  He feels that even all his reaching out to the Lord for help has been in vain!

4.  He Believes That He Has No Faith - (v.13-18)

      a.  v.13  No expectation in prayer

      b.  v.14  No explanation for his problems

                  His life has been this way for many years and he sees no end to the misery in sight.  He feels that he is condemned to struggle under this heavy load until he finally dies.

      Have you ever been here?  Maybe you are there right now, or perhaps you are aware of someone who has fallen into the depths of despair.  If so, I believe the answers to this man’s problems and those you might have today can be found in this Psalm.  Let me share some challenges to the hurting saint that this Psalm poses. You see, even in the dark despair of this Psalm, I can see some reasons for hope.  Let me share them with you today. I want to preach for a few minutes on the subject of Handling Life’s Load. Notice the challenges this Psalm gives to the suffering saint.


  I.  v. 1, 2, 9, 13              DON’T STOP PRAYING

      A.  Even with all his problems, this man kept on calling on the Lord!

      B.  Recognizing how he prayed can help us when we face times like these.  Notice:

1.  He Prayed Continually - (v.1, v. 9, v. 13 - Night and day, Daily; First thing every day all day) - Don’t ever give up!  We are told to continue instant in prayer!

·        1 Thes. 5:17, “Pray without ceasing”

·        Rom. 12:12, “…continuing instant in prayer”

·        Col. 4:2, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving”

·        Psa. 55:16-17, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.  Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”

·        Psa. 109:4, “…but I give myself unto prayer.”

2.  He Prayed Emotionally - (v.1 - Cried, To shout and shriek) Ill. v.9 – As a little child, he reached up to the Lord.  This thing meant something to him.  Emotion is a vital part of the effective prayer life - James 5:16; (Ill. David - Psa. 6:6)  Ill. Human emotion and burdens touch the heart of the Lord –

·        Psa. 56:8, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

·        Heb. 4:15-16. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” 

·        Sometimes, when human words fail us, the Spirit takes over - Rom. 8:26-27)

3.  He Prayed Intelligently - (v.1 - He directed his prayer toward God and God alone!  He called out to the God Who hears and answers the prayers of His saints, Jer. 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”; Isaiah 65:24, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Four times God is referred to as “Lord”, verses 1, 9, 13, 14. This is the name “Jehovah”.  It is the name of God that refers to Him as the “Covenant Keeper”.  This name tells us that He is the God who keeps faith with His people.  He is the God Who never fails and Who never deserts His Own.  He is the God of creative.  He is the God Who is able, Eph. 3:20.  He is the God Who can do the impossible, any time and in any place. Heman knew the true source of his help and strength. ) (Ill. Psa. 46:1)


 II.                              DON’T STOP PERSEVERING

A.  God does not speak in this Psalm! That does not indicate that He didn’t care for      this man.  It simply means that God chose not to answer here. We are told that the Psalmist does begin to question God’s silence, v. 14. But, who can blame him?  It is hard to carry one when it seems that the heavens have turned to brass! Still, he never gives up!

B.  God did not answer a single one of Job’s questions!  God did not answer Jesus       when He cried out on the cross!  But, what He did through His silence, in judging sin in the body of Jesus, was His greatest work! God spoke all of His creation into existence!  His greatest works, however, are often accomplished in silence! (Ill. Joseph – Gen. 37-50; Ill. Job – God did not answer Job until the end of the book – Job 42:1-17; Ill.   Our duty is not to question, it is to conform.  We must remember that His plans and ways are not like ours - Isa. 55:8-9.

C.  Regardless of what the problems of life appear to be to our troubled minds, they are never what they seem.

They appear to be:

1. Extreme, v. 6 - “laid me in the lowest pit.”

2. Inexplicable, v. 6 - “in darkness.”

3. Humiliating, v. 6 - “in the deeps.”

4. Severe, v. 7 - “thy wrath lieth hard.”

5. Exhaustive, v. 7 - “afflicted with all thy waves.”

What they really are:

1. Not extreme, but light. – 2 Cor. 4:17

2. Not inexplicable, but according to the will of God. – Rom. 8:28

3. Not humiliating, but elevating. – 2 Cor. 12:10

4. Not severe, but gentle. Not in anger, but in love. – 1 John 4:8

5. Not exhaustive, but partial. Not all thy waves, but a few ripples only. The burden is but the slight motion in a calm harbor when there is a boisterous ocean beyond.– 2 Cor. 12:9

D.  God is not afraid of our “whys”.  Our questions do not scare Him, nor do they threaten Him.  Still, He desires us to come to the place that even when we cannot trace God, we merely just trust Him! That is what He is after in your life and mine!  Therefore, no matter how hard the winds blow, God is Ruler of the winds.  No matter how rough the sea becomes, He is still the Master of the sea! So, even when God does not answer you, keep on looking to Him!  Persist in your faith and it will pay dividends in His time! Never give up!


(Ill. A story is told that Andrew Jackson's boyhood friends just couldn't understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They knew of others who had greater talent but who never succeeded. One of Jackson's friends commented, "Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now."

      Another friend responded, "How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn't they usually say three times and out?"

      "Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat -- he would never stay 'throwed.' Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andrew Jackson would throw him and be the winner."

      Andrew Jackson just wouldn't stay 'throwed'!  the same should be true of each of us!  No matter what we are facing, we must not stay “throwed” by it.)


III.  v. 1                        DON’T STOP PRAISING

A.  There is one gleam of glory in this otherwise gloomy Psalm.  Notice verse 1.  He calls out to “The God of MY SALVATION!”  If you are saved, you have a reason to rejoice!  No matter how dark the valley, how deep the trial, or how difficult the way, you have a license to praise the Lord!  (Ill. Luke 10:20!)

B.  Praise may not do away with your pain, but it will bring you into the Lord’s    presence, Psa. 22:3!  (By the way, Satan has a hard time with a praising saint - Ill. Job, Job 1:20-21!)  (Ill. You may not feel like it, but praise Him anyway!  When you feel like crying: cry, weep, empty your heart of the bitterness of sorrow; but call on the Lord and offer up thanksgiving for all He has done for you!  In His time and in His Own way, He will lift your burdens, Psa. 55:22!)

C.  How do you revive the spirit of praise?  Do what the Bible says - 1 Thes. 5:18; Phil 4:4.

·        Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

·        Psalm 71:8,  “Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.”

·        Psalm 71:14-15, “But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof.”

·        Psalm 145:1-2, “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.  Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.”

·        Psalm 146:2, “While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.”

·        Hebrews 13:15, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

      Just begin to rejoice in His presence, bless His Name and thank God    for His blessings.  You may not feel like rejoicing when you start, but you will before you finish!


Conc:  What kind of load do you carry today?  Are there some things you need to get settled with the Lord?  Is there some heavy burden you would like to lay down, or roll over on Him?  Is there some need you would like to give the Lord Jesus, Matt. 11:28?  Is there some sin you would like to confess?  Maybe you know that you are not a child of God, but you want to be saved.  You can be!  Whatever the need, let Jesus have His way in it and all will be well.

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