Ps 88:1-18. Upon Mahalath—either an instrument, as a lute, to be used as an accompaniment (Leannoth, "for singing") or, as others think, an enigmatic title (see on Ps 5:1, Ps 22:1, and Ps 45:1, titles), denoting the subject—that is, "sickness or disease, for humbling," the idea of spiritual maladies being often represented by disease (compare Ps 6:5, 6; 22:14, 15, &c.). On the other terms, see on Ps 42:1 and Ps 32:1. Heman and Ethan (see on Ps 89:1, title) were David's singers (1Ch 6:18, 33; 15:17), of the family of Kohath. If the persons alluded to (1Ki 4:31; 1Ch 2:6), they were probably adopted into the tribe of Judah. Though called a song, which usually implies joy (Ps 83:1), both the style and matter of the Psalm are very despondent; yet the appeals to God evince faith, and we may suppose that the word "song" might be extended to such compositions.
1, 2. Compare on the terms used, Ps 22:2; 31:2.
3. grave—literally, "hell" (Ps 16:10), death in wide sense.
4. go . . . pit—of destruction (Ps 28:1).as a man—literally, "a stout man," whose strength is utterly gone.
5. Free . . . dead—Cut off from God's care, as are the slain, who, falling under His wrath, are left, no longer sustained by His hand.
6. Similar figures for distress in Ps 63:9; 69:3.
8. Both cut off from sympathy and made hateful to friends (Ps 31:11).
9. Mine eye mourneth—literally, "decays," or fails, denoting exhaustion (Ps 6:7; 31:9).I . . . called— (Ps 86:5, 7). stretched out—for help (Ps 44:20).
10. shall the dead—the remains of ghosts.arise—literally, "rise up," that is, as dead persons.
11, 12. amplify the foregoing, the whole purport (as Ps 6:5) being to contrast death and life as seasons for praising God.
13. prevent—meet—that is, he will diligently come before God for help (Ps 18:41).
14. On the terms (Ps 27:9; 74:1; 77:7).
15. from . . . youth up—all my life.
16, 17. the extremes of anguish and despair are depicted.
18. into darkness—Better omit "into"—"mine acquaintances (are) darkness," the gloom of death, &c. (Job 17:13, 14).
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