By Bob Bunn
While Book III contains threads of hope, it is often labeled as the “dark” book of the Psalter because of its focus on lament.
I’ve heard it said that the phones we carry in our pockets today are more powerful than all the computers used to pull off the first moon landing in 1969. That’s amazing to think about. What’s even more remarkable is how technology and communication continue to expand in our world.
While the members of younger generations understandably can’t recall a time without cell phones or streaming services, those from older generations know it hasn’t always been this way. Phones were once plugged into the wall, and a handful of local stations was the best television had to offer. People even had to read newspapers because 24-hour cable channels and websites weren’t options!
No doubt, things have changed—and the changes keep coming. New technology becomes old technology in the blink of an eye. Before we even get the wrapper off our new gadgets, we hear rumblings about the next great thing coming down the pike.
Of course, the most amazing form of communication takes place regularly between God and His people. Unfortunately, sin interrupts that communication. Even worse, it separates God’s people from His presence. That sense of His absence only serves to intensify the isolation people feel.
That’s the emotion behind Psalm 88, a hymn written by a group of worship leaders known as “the sons of Korah,” along with Heman the Ezrahite. Their song begged God to hear their cries for help. They needed to know He was listening to them. Even more, they needed to experience His presence in a fresh way.
Reading through the entire chapter, it’s not hard to pick up on their desperation. References to “troubles” (Psalm 88:3), “Sheol” (v.3), and “the Pit” (vv.4,6) sound like a trap with no possible escape. Phrases like “abandoned” (v.5), “darkest places” (v.6), and “terrors” (v.16) suggest an unbearable lack of hope. These leaders were “worn out from crying” (v.9). They felt lost without a sense of God’s presence.
Sin still derails our walk with God. It builds barriers and shatters our lines of communication. Worse, it leaves us feeling disconnected from the presence of the One we need more than anything or anyone.
Thankfully, as Korah’s sons knew, God is never more than a prayer away. Even when our backs are against the wall and hope is hard to come by, He has promised to hear us and draw near us. We never have to wonder if He cares or if He’s listening.
God faithfully provides His presence, and, honestly, His presence is all we really need.