3For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
4I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:
5Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.
6Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
7Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.
8Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.
9Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
A Bible passage such as this from Psalm 88 is a hard one to understand especially for those who are still in the days of their youth when it is unlikely they have yet experienced such grievous afflictions. Not having experienced such a thing, we do not realize that, even for the believer, afflictions can so weigh us down to the point of having a troubled soul.
This poor man was so grievously ill that he was lying at death's door and had lost that comfortable presence of God; it seemed to him that he had been shut up and forgotten by God. One commentator even stated, he believed this person spoke in a manner which never should be heard from the lips of a true believer.
When we read further in this Psalm, we will discover, however, that his heart is again lifted up to the Lord, as one would expect from one of God's children.
It is good that this Psalm is included in God's Word, for this is not so very unusual of an experience for a Christian. All of us, no matter how firm our faith in the Lord, can easily fall into great times of trouble so that it seems that even God has abandoned us. It is good to remember that we cannot hold on to our own faith; in our frailty we could not save ourselves, and neither can we keep ourselves saved. Like this poor suffering saint, we can easily begin to suspect that God has totally forgotten and deserted us, so that we, too, experience a grieving, troubled soul.
There are two wonderful things to remember when we reach such desperate straits. First, our salvation, and thus our soul, rests in the hands of God. No one and no thing can pluck our souls from the safe harbor of God's protection. Second, it was God who saved us and it is God who will keep us saved. Our salvation does not rest upon our feelings which will wax and wane throughout the difficult experiences of life. One moment we can feel so utterly close to God, and the next we wonder if we ever knew Him.
As Christians, we need to be sensitive to our fellow believers. We need them, and they need us. At times such as this, how helpful it would have been for this dear man to have been visited by Godly friends who could have comforted him and prayed with him.
Probably, one of the most poignant messages of this Psalm, however, is that, in the end, the only thing that matters in this life is our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. We can float through life on beds of ease, or stumble through from one difficulty to another, and yet, when we reach death's door, the only thing that matters is our relationship to Christ.
How have we responded to God's free offer of salvation? Have we put it off, preferring rather to taste the pleasures of this world, or have we realized our true, sinful state before God, and fallen before Him in repentance, calling for His dear Son to save us from our deadly, sinful state.
In the end, that is all that matters.
As we will find out, this dear man sought God for His help and strength, and even if He did not feel God's presence up until the last moment breath remained in his body, at the point of death, all of his suffering ended for all eternity, when he was ushered into the glorious presence of His Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
This world is not our home; God graciously sends times of suffering so that we will turn our hearts to the more important matter of the state of our souls. Do you have a troubled soul? Turn to Christ, He is the answer to all of life's problems; as a matter of fact, He is the only answer!
God Bless You,