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Psalm 88:1-18


Intro: There are 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms. This Psalm, Psalm 88, this is without a doubt, the saddest. The words of this Psalm are heart breaking. Here is a man who does not want to continue living his life. He wants to die, v. 15. 

Verse 15 is the key verse of the chapter. The root of this man’s 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 the nature of his “affliction,” he sees it as the chastisement of the Lord on his life, v. 7, 16. Whether that is true or not, we do not know, 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 pain. We have before us 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. A man in Oklahoma has a business where he charges people $5.00 per half hour just to listen to them talk. 

Ill. There once was a lonely lady who listened to her radio every night just 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. 

Thank God, 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 believes 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  He has no expectation in prayers.

b.  v.14  He has no explanation for his problems.

His life has been this way for many years and there is no end to the misery that is his life. He believes 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 the steps we need to take When Life Hurts. In the dark despair of this Psalm, there are some reasons for hope. I want to talk to you about those times When Life Hurts. I want to point out the steps we need to take during the painful times of life when life hurts. 


A.  Even with all his problems, this man kept on praying!

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, and never stop praying!  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 – Like a little child, he reached up to the Lord. This burden was heavy on him, and it touched him at the heart of his being. He was a broken man emotionally. Emotion is a vital part of the effective prayer life.

  • “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth muchJames 5:16.
  • “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears,” Psalms 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.”  

When human words fail us, the Spirit takes over. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of GodRom. 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 “Lordverses 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. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” Psalms 46:1.

  I.  Maintain Your Connection To God


God is silent in this Psalm! He does not respond to the brokenhearted cry of this man. God does not even give this man a hint that He is listening. 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!

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.

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. They are light. – 2 Cor. 4:17

2. The work of God in our lives – Rom. 8:28

3. They serve to lift us – 2 Cor. 12:10

4. The gift of God’s love – 1 Pet. 5:7, 1 John 4:8

5. Not exhaustive, but partial. Not all God’s waves, but only a few ripples. 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! 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.

  I.  Maintain Your Connection To God

 II.  Maintain Your Commitment To God


A.  There is one gleam of glory, one bright spot, 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. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven,” 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, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved,” Psalms 55:22.

C.  How do you revive the spirit of praise? Do what the Bible says.

  • “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you1 Thes. 5:18.
  • “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, RejoicePhil. 4:4.

Determine in your heart that come what may, you will praise Him simply because He is worthy to receive all worship, glory and honor.

  • Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
  • Psalm 47:1, “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”
  • Psalm 48:1a, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised...”
  • 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 113:1-3, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised.”
  • 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! Ill. “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel,” Psa.22:3.

Conc:  Sometimes life hurts. When it does, we need to do as the Psalmist did in this passage. We need to keep on praying, keep on persevering, and keep on praising. It may not always change the situation, but there can be little doubt that is will change us in the situations we face in life.

C. S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world

Sometimes life hurts, but when it does, there is help and hope for those who know the Lord!

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