A time of bleak lament (PsalmA psalm is a song of praise. In the Old Testament 150 psalms comprise the psalter, although some of the psalms are laments and thanksgivings. In the New Testament early Christians gathered to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. More 88) is followed by a great hymn of praise for God’s mighty acts in creationCreation, in biblical terms, is the universe as we know or perceive it. Genesis says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the book of Revelation (which speaks of end times) the author declares that God created all things and... More and history (Psalm 89).
Psalms 88 and 89 seem to be a deliberate psalm pair. According to their titles, they are the only two Ezrahite psalms in the PsalterThe psalter is a volume containing the book of Psalms (see Psalm). In the early Middle Ages psalters were popular and contained - in addition to the psalms - calendars, litanies of saints, and other devotional texts. More. They are the final two psalms of Book III, a book still characterized largely by laments. The darkest of these is Psalm 88, but Psalm 89 closes the book with praise of God, who sustains the creation and who elects DavidSecond king of Israel, David united the northern and southern kingdoms. More to be the messianic king.
Whereas the lament psalms typically turn at the end to an experience of hope and a vowA vow is a promise or an oath. God promised to be Israel's God, while in return the people vowed to be obedient to God's commandments. In the book of 1 Samuel Hannah, the mother of Samuel, vowed to dedicate the life of her son... More of praise, Psalm 88 does not. It begins “at night,” crying out to God (v. 1), and it ends “in darkness,” the psalmist shunned by friends and neighbors (v. 18). There is no bright moment in the psalm other than the psalmist’s morning prayer that continues, even if as yet unanswered (v. 13).
One value of Psalm 88 is its brutal honesty. Not all prayer is quickly answered; not all distress has a happy outcome. If all the psalms ended “happily ever after,” the Psalter would be a less believable book. All those who remain in darkness despite faith and prayer find their voice in Psalm 88.
Yet the community of God’s people knows more about God than any one of God’s people, and this is represented by the editor of the book putting Psalms 88 and 89 back to back. The problems of Psalm 88 are not “fixed”; its vision remains bleak. But the community sings Psalm 89 in response, reminding the pray-er of 88 that God’s “steadfast loveThe steadfast love (hesed) of God is the assurance of God's loving kindness, faithfulness, and mercy. This assurance rings throughout the Old Testament, and is affirmed more than 120 times in the Psalms. In some hymns of praise the response of the people was likely... More is established forever” (89:2), that God’s covenantA covenant is a promise or agreement. In the Bible the promises made between God and God's people are known as covenants; they state or imply a relationship of commitment and obedience. More with David remains in effect (vv. 3-4), that the chaotic threats to God’s creation remain at bay (vv. 8-14). True, even David’s kingdom knows distress (vv. 38-48)–perhaps reflecting Book III’s remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E.–but finally the psalm and the book close with a call to God also to remember and to act on Israel’s behalf (vv. 49-51).