“I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death … Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? … Darkness is my closest friend.”
The psalms have been the songbook of the church for many generations. Some psalms consist entirely of praise to God, while others contain instruction. Many of the psalms are filled with the anguish of God’s people, and yet most of these end with an expression of hope in God and a renewed trust and confidence in Him!
Psalm 88 however is different from many of the psalms. The entire psalm is one of hopelessness, bitterness, confusion and despair; verse after verse of crying out to God in anger and complaint. And the psalm seems to end rather abruptly with the phrase, “Darkness is my closest friend”, not unlike the lyrics of a secular song, “Hello darkness, my old friend.” The psalmist received no response from God, no deliverance, and thus he feels that he has no reason for praise.
What are we to do with such a psalm and why has it been included in Scripture? I believe that it has been included because many, if not all, believers face times of deep darkness, when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. And though we do not always express our deepest emotions to one another, we can and should always express our hearts to God! God is big enough to handle our frustrations, our disappointments, and even our anger. He would rather hear the anguished heart-cry of a wounded believer, than a nice prayer which covers up the reality of our hearts.
Pain can draw us toward God, or cause us to rebel against the God of heaven and earth. Although this psalm expresses no hope, it is none-the-less, a psalm directed to the God of heaven. The psalmist has not lost sight of the fact that God is real, and he is crying out to his God! Ultimately, the darkness at the end of this psalm is pointing forward to the darkness endured by our Saviour. He faced real abandonment by His Father, so that we will never have to!! Troubled believer, continue to cry out to the God of heaven and earth! He hears, He cares, He loves you! The cross is the ultimate proof!