Darkness is My Only Friend. A Statement of Hope.

Psalm 88 is a psalm about faith that is mixed with total confusion, exposed vulnerability, and a smashed heart. Because this is still faith.

This psalm is different from the other 150. This is an honest part in the Bible. For a holy book, the Bible is full of too much honesty. I’m not sure how the Bible made the holy book cut because of this raw honesty.

That isn’t why this psalm is different. The Psalms are full of so many emotions and anguish. This psalm is raw and full of pain like so many of the others but it doesn’t end with the normal psalm ending of “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Or some other proclamation of trust. This psalm just ends making this statement, “Darkness is my only friend.” This psalm just ends with that.

No declaration of trust.

Let’s read this Psalm:

O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night.

Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry.

For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near.

I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left.

They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from your care.

You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths.

Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave you have engulfed me. Interlude

This interlude or this selah (depending on translation) means take a breath. After this honest anguish, let’s take a breath. Feel the emotion expressed. Do you feel any of this inside of you? (You are invited to feel.)

You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape.

My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O Lord; I lift my hands to you for mercy.

Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise you? Interlude

Whew. We need to take another breath.

Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love? Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction?

Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness?

O Lord, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day.

O Lord, why do you reject me? Why do you turn your face from me?

I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors.

Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me.

They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have engulfed me completely.

You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.

Is God at fault for all of this despair?

Or is God who we talk to honestly when we are in despair?

Notice from beginning to end of this psalm that there is no trace of bitterness; no desire for revenge on enemies; no angry reflections on the goodness of God. No matter how deep and dark the author’s affliction was, he could still talk to God about it—day by day, v. 13. Notice how he each day he begged for help, v. 9.

He didn’t leave his relationship with God, he kept vulnerably returning.

How does one trust like that in the midst of this much despair?

The author of this Psalm is not David as so many of the Psalms are. This one-off is from Heman the Ezrahite, son of Korah. Experts are not sure if this is the same Heman but there is one mentioned many times in the days of David and Solomon. This Heman was noted for:

  • His great wisdom (1 Kings 4:31).
  • His being a Kohathite, among the sons of Korah (1 Chronicles 6:33).
  • His musical ability and service (1 Chronicles 6:33, 15:17-19, 16:41-42, 25:1; 2 Chronicles 5:12, 35:15).
  • His many and exceptional sons and daughters (1 Chronicles 25:5-6).
  • His service to the king (1 Chronicles 25:6).
  • A corny superhero cartoon in the 1980s. (Did I make you giggle?)

This song of despair came from a wise, talented, accomplished, and blessed man. Someone who “should” not have such complaints. Someone who “should” have reasons to trust God.

Noticed how in v. 15 he said he’s been in this despair since his youth. How did he become such an accomplished leader with all of this despair? His secret knowing is that darkness is his closest friend.

Darkness is generally considered bad. It is when the creepy crawly things come out. The nightmares happen that haunt you. Night frights are real. When you can’t see far enough in front of you. When it is braver to stay in than to venture out. You find yourself waiting anxiously for the daylight to return—for normal to return.

Yet in this darkness, God is.

As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

Exodus 20:21

Exodus 20 is the chapter we find the 10 Commandments. This is the moment when Moses left the people to meet with God—and it was darkness. (God in the darkness is throughout the Bible, read more.)

What happened those three hours of darkness on the cross is core to our faith.

Lent is an observance of the darkness. Lent is leading us to the cross which lead us to Easter. The darkness of Lent makes Easter all the brighter.

When you have lived a while with an honest faith, you come to know that darkness is one of your dearest times.

Darkness is an invitation. Lent is an invitation of ritual in our church calendar to remember the darkness. Darkness is in the church calendar.

This terrible time has in a deep and even terrible way brought Heman, me, and maybe you into closer trust relationship with God.

I’m not saying that you aren’t in anguish. That this really isn’t the worst time of your life. It is. Let’s stay in the honesty.

In that darkness I have learned that I am known the deepest. I am learning the deeper things. I know of God’s love in a deeper way. These things I don’t ever forget. Darkness has become a dear old friend I don’t always want to welcome but I do find comfort in…now.

I have authored a Bible study with video about these thoughts. Though Psalm 88 didn’t make the cut of the other 125+ verses in the Bible study. This Bible study comes from the best of our conversations at church, like this one. You can learn more about it at www.trustissueswithGod.com.

Hello darkness, my old friend… You may recognize that song lyric. Watch this beautiful remake of that song from the worship team at my church.


New Bible Study:  Trust Issues with God With Video

Life is unfair. When the unfair thing happens, we look for a reason, a solution, a purpose, justice. These are all things we expect from God. When God doesn’t deliver when we expect or need him to, there is a gap in our understanding of who God is. This Bible study is to help you fill in that gap with trust over suspicion by exploring the truths of the Bible, both individually and in a group setting.

Order here: http://TrustIssuesWithGod.com