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PSALM 88...


Here is our text, Psalm 88, in the King James Version of the Bible:

A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.

"O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:  Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;  For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.  I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:  Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.  Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.    Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.  Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.  Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.  Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.  Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?  Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.  LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?  I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.  Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.  They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together. Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness."



PSALM 88 ... LESSON 19 ... APRIL 25, 2004 (SUNDAY)

Here it is!  And the last verse of Psalm 88 is as exciting as the first verse!

 "Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness."  Psalm 88:18

The Psalm ends on as dark a note as it began (if not even darker)!

There is not a bright light in it all!  Not a single ray of hope that I can find!

The sufferer tells God that He (the Lord God) has "put far from" him lover and friend!  The verb "put far" is in Hebrew "rachaq" and means "to widen, to remove, to distance oneself!"  Again, its describes completed action!  This happened once to the Psalmist (or to Jesus if this is a Type of Christ) ... but it is over!

Now Jesus has both friends and lovers (worshippers) around Him constantly .... and will for evermore!

The noun "lover" comes from a verb that means "to have affection for." 

The noun "friend" comes from a word that means "companion." 

If this is Jesus on the Cross ... He is separated from everyone He knows and loves!

He Who is the Greatest LOVER of our souls had no lover to stand by Him as He died vicariously!

He Who is the FRIEND that "sticketh closer than a brother" died alone for sinners!

Perhaps even the very wages of sin involves separation from all loved ones!  In hell there will be no loving fellowship of any kind.  And Jesus on the Cross was suffering the wages of sin for you and me!

The word "acquaintance" is a participle from "yada" and means one you "know." Even Jesus' disciples and closest followers were plunged into darkness as He died!  Their very world had collapsed! 

I have wondered if Jesus might even be referring here to "acquaintances" in the sense of the things He knew ("yada" allows this meaning).   He had never known anything but fellowship with His Father.  But now that's plunged into darkness!  He had never known anything but sweet peace and joy ... but that's temporarily interrupted by sin!  He had never known anything but perfect separation from sin ... but now He will have that dreaded stuff poured out all over Him as the sin Bearer for our lost souls!  (No sin "in" Him!  But all our sin "on" Him!) His "sureties" had certainly been smothered in darkness!

"Darkness" is in Hebrew "machshak."  It means a place with no light.  Could we say that Jesus suffered in "outer darkness" for you and me as He died on that Cross that day?  (The word is only used 7 times in the whole Bible!)  Here's its first use: "For the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."  Psalm 74:20  I wonder what "cruelty" Jesus suffered for us on Calvary!  Some believe that Jesus might be the perfect Sufferer of Lamentation too.  If so ... read:  "He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old."  Lamentations 3:6

However because Jesus has been in such darkness ... and has conquered it ... He can promise:  "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."  Isaiah 42:16

Untold agony!  Indescribable suffering!  That's what Psalm 88 has depicted for 18 verses!  Who could it be describing but Jesus our beloved Saviour?

BUT in closing let me show you one thing.  I believe the Holy Spirit has "hidden" a little "hint" for us at the "front" door of this text ... and again at the "back" door of it!

Here's what I mean.

Here's the LAST verse in the Bible before Psalm 88 begins!  (In other words ... the last verse of Psalm 87) 

Psalm 87:7 --- "As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee."

Now, here's the FIRST verse after Psalm 88 ends.  (In other words, the first verse of Psalm 89)

Psalm 89:1 --- "I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations."

Wrapped around our "dark" Psalm of suffering and no light or joy ... are two verses that mention singing and rejoicing!

That says a lot!

Before the Cross Jesus had perfect joy and fellowship with His Father!

During the Cross He was forsaken and all alone!

After the Cross the joy was restored ... sweeter than every before!  For He was now the crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended, reigning, interceding Lord and Saviour!

Glory to His Name!

That looks like this:    JOY ..... AGONY ..... JOY UNSPEAKABLE!

May your joy and glory be forever delightful!

Thank you Lord for saving my soul!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 18 ... APRIL 24, 2004 (SATURDAY)

As we near the end of our study, may our hearts be warmed as God opens our eyes to the precious truths of this text.  Still talking about God's "terrors," the Psalmist declares:

 "They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together."  Psalm 88:17

The verb "came around" means to turn, to revolve, to surround or to border.  The sufferer here was just engulfed with terrors!  The only "good" news here is that it's a "perfect" verb, indicating that the horror has ended!  The action is completed.  (If we are seeing Jesus as He suffers on Calvary ... IT IS FINISHED!)  This verb is used twice in Psalm 22, the Psalm of the Cross!  (In both cases it is translated "compassed.") Psalm 22:12 --- "Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round." And Psalm 22:16 --- "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet."

These terrors being compared to water still remind me of Jonah (a Type of Christ in His death, burial and resurrection) going down into the stormy sea! 

The adverb "daily" implies that Jesus thought about His coming suffering much ... even before it occurred! We know He was thinking about it in Luke 12:50 where He said:  "But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" 

Even as early as age 12 Jesus said (His first Biblically recorded words):  "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"  Luke 2:49  (That was primarily the Cross!)

And at the beginning of His Ministry (His first recorded miracle) He said to His mother Mary:  "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." John 2:4

The next verb, "compassed" translated the Hebrew word "naqaph."  It means "to strike with violence!"  It then comes to mean to circulate or surround.  Here is our verb in Lamentations 3:5 --- "He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail."  More agony!  Jesus is being inundated with terror and wrath!  He is paying our sin debt!

Lastly notice that these thing are all coming against Him at once.  "Together!"  It's "yachad" in Hebrew and means as a unit!  As one!  He paid for all the sin of the world during one six hour span of time!  What suffering!

I know of no other Bible text anywhere that so describes the ordeal of the Cross!

Blessed Jesus!

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."   John 3:16

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 17 ... APRIL 23, 2004 (FRIDAY)

This great Psalm sounds somewhat like a miniature Book of Job.  It is filled with suffering.  Today's verse is no different.  Yet I sense that we are being taught something great.

 "Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off."   Psalm 88:16

This is the second time the word "wrath" is used in the Psalm ... but not with the same Hebrew word as earlier.  (It is as if God the Father has expended all His wrath ... and all His kinds of wrath ... on His Beloved Son!)  For example Isaiah 53 tells us that on the Cross Jesus was ... "smitten of God!"  And that the Father "hath laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all!"  Even to the point that "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him!"  (Isaiah 53:4,6 and 10)

Our noun for "wrath" here is "charon" and is translated "fierce or fierceness" 32 times and "wrath" 6 times and "fury" 1 time and "displeasure" 1 time.  This word is always used of God's anger in Scripture!  While the other word for "wrath" (back in verse 7) is translated "poison" 6 times in the King James Bible!  That word is "chemah."  Here's the first Bible use of our word "wrath" --- Exodus 15:7  "And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble."

"Goeth over" translates "abar," meaning to pass over, by or through!  It also can mean "to alienate!"  Here is its first Bible use (in the very same form): Joshua 3:16 tells us: "And the people "passed over" right against Jericho."  A "pass-over" situation!  I remember another "Pass-Over," don't you? The death angel passed over Jesus pouring out God's very wrath on Him as He died on Calvary!  Additionally ... it's first use (in any form) ...  "And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged."  Genesis 8:1  That "wind" is a Type of the Holy Spirit!  Put the two verses together!  God's wrath passed over Jesus ... so that the precious Holy Spirit could pass over you and me!

"Over" is the preposition "al," meaning upon, above, towards or against (as well as over).  Sounds to me like God's wrath was everywhere all over Jesus (as the Sin-Bearer!)

The noun "terrors" is only found twice in the Scriptures!  It's "biuthiym" (plural) and means alarms or things that produce fear.  Watch Job use the word:  "For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me."   Job 6:4  Both times the word is found the "terror" comes from God!  (By the way, Job was a Type of Christ in his suffering!)

And "to cut off" (Hebrew = "tzsmath") is to put an end to!  To terminate or to exterminate!  (It represents completed action though!  Jesus was cut off once ... but all that is finished!  He is today a resurrected ascended reigning Saviour ... highly exalted in the heavens!)  Jesus DIED for our sins!  In Psalm 54:5 the Psalmist prays this about his enemies:  Lord, "cut them off in thy truth."  That's exactly what God did to His Son Jesus.  In truth (righteousness) He cut Jesus off from the land of the living!  That was the ONLY WAY lost sinners could have ever been saved!

What a Price Jesus paid for our justification!

Glory to His dear Name!

By the way, I noticed that the Father in Heaven who "cut off" His own son ... will also "cut off" those who reject Jesus' Calvary Payment on their behalf!  For example ... "For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee."  Psalm 73:27

Let Jesus take your sin for you ... or pay the price yourself!  It's that simple! 

May God the Holy Spirit reveal to someone today the "lostness" of their condition and point them to the Lord Jesus is my sincere prayer!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 16 ... APRIL 22, 2004 (THURSDAY)

I can hardly see how this verse today applies to anyone other than our dear Lord Jesus Christ.  Let me show you what I mean:

 "I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted."  Psalm 88:15

That opening verb "afflicted" translates a Hebrew word "aniy," meaning "depressed or poor or humble or wretched!"  It comes from a root verb that means "to look down upon" someone!  Nearly the idea of "browbeating!"

"Ready to die" represents one verb, "gava."  It means to expire (to breathe out)!  To give up the ghost!  That's exactly what Jesus did on the Cross!  John 19:30 says that:  "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."  As a participle the action here is continual.  Jesus was a living Sacrifice before He was a dying Sacrifice!

"Youth" is in Hebrew "naar," and means boyhood!  It literally is a word associated with the young lion!  (To tumble about!  The "rustling" of a lion's mane!  A lion's roar!  All these are lexicon associated terms linked to our noun for youth!)  You would think that the Psalmist (or Jesus) is being compared to some kind of lion, wouldn't you?  LIKE MAYBE THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH!  Revelation 5:5 says --- "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."

The verb "suffer" translates "nasa," which means to bear, to lift, to carry!  Did Jesus carry something at the Cross!  Yes!  Our sins!  Far away!  Read Isaiah 53 for proof! But ... get this ... THIS verb is a Qal perfect!  That means it's active voice ... Jesus Himself did the carrying away!  And it also means that the action is complete! Calvary is over!  Sin has been atoned!  Propitiation has been made!  Jesus paid it all!  He will never have to die again!  It is finished!  Glory to God!

"Terrors" is a word (in Hebrew = "eymah") that means dread or horror!  Sin absolutely frightened Jesus.  He was holy and sinless!  He hated iniquity!  Yet He had to take our filthy sin upon Himself and pay the price for our redemption.  From the Bible history of this word it appears that God can use "terror" as a tool in accomplishing His will!  Once our word is translated "idols!"  (Jeremiah 50:38)  Jesus took all the false idols of the world and defeated them (principalities and powers too) on the Cross!  Colossians 2:15 reminds us that at Calvary Jesus:  "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."

And the word "distracted" translates "pun," meaning perplexed.  As far as I can tell, this is the ONLY time in the whole Bible our word is found!  The "distraction" Jesus suffered as He died is unique!  Nothing else can compare to it!  It seems that the "root" idea of the verb is "to turn."  Jesus was turned every way imaginable on the Cross (in a spiritual sense)!  It reminds me of what Jonah said happened to him as he went down into the depths of the dark sea!  In Jonah 2:3,5 and 6 the Prophet says to God:  "For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God."

I am more convinced than ever that this Psalm is describing the ordeal Jesus suffered for the salvation of our souls!

Again I must say ... It just makes you want to love Him more and more!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 15 ... APRIL 21, 2004 (WEDNESDAY):

Our journey through Psalm 88 has today brought us to verse 14.  I have enjoyed studying this great passage immensely!

 "LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?"  Psalm 88:14

Here are two questions.  They may be just from the Psalmist himself as he suffers from some very trying circumstances.  Or they may be the very words of Another Sufferer Who lived a thousand years later than the Psalmist!

I believe the chapter speaks prophetically of our Lord Jesus Christ in His passion at Calvary.

I do know that on the Cross Jesus asked His Father a "Why" question.  Matthew 27:46 tells us --- "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"  Mark 15:34 repeats the information also.  This surely gives us some idea of the intense agony our Lord was suffering as He paid our sin debt!

"Why" is a Hebrew term ("mah") that means: what, why, how, when?  It is an interrogative particle. 

"Castest off" translates "zanach," meaning to reject or to spurn!  (To push aside!) The action here is represented as incomplete.  The Psalmist felt as if God was constantly spurning him!  (Yet he kept coming back to God again and again!)  What faith is here exhibited!  Our verb is used 20 times in the Bible.  In the first use of the word in Scripture (1 Chronicles 28:9) Solomon is told by God that if he obeys, blessings will come BUT if he forsakes God .... God will "cast him off" for ever! Jesus was "cast off" of God yet Jesus never forsook God!  Why?  Because Jesus was taking the place of us God rejecters!  He endured our penalty!  In the Psalms this term "cast off" is found 10 times!  It is without exception used of God chastening His people Israel! Therefore I say without apology ... Jesus died for Israel, God's "cast off" People as much as He died for the lost Gentiles of this old world!

Here's a bit of good news I've just found.  God can reverse His decision to "cast off" whomever.  Read Zechariah 10:6 with me.   "And I (the Lord God) will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them."  Glory to God!

Once Jesus fully paid the sin debt of lost mankind ... God no longer "cast Him off" either!  He received Him and loved Him and highly exalted Him in an unprecedented manner!

By "soul" is meant one's innermost being.  "Nephesh" means that living breathing part of an individual.

"Hidest" translates the verb "sathar," meaning to conceal (by covering)!  Perhaps on Calvary Jesus was "covered" thus hidden from the Father!  What "covered" Him, Brother Bagwell?  Our sins did!  He bore our iniquity!  (Isaiah 53:6)  Our verb here is a Hiphil imperfect.  It is a "causative" stem. There is a cause why Jesus suffered so!  And the cause is our sin!  The ultimate cause is God's love for sinners too!  Imperfect means that at the time of the writing of this Psalm ... the hiding continued!  (This is a prophetic passage when used in reference to Jesus.)  He was hidden from the face of God for hours and hours on Calvary's Cross!  But I am glad to announce that the sin issue is settled.  Jesus is no more estranged from His dear Father!  They are one in Glory even now!  Listen to Psalm 104:29 --- "Thou (Lord) hidest thy face, they are troubled."  That is always true!  (Think of the horror Jesus suffered when the Father ... for the first time in all of eternity ... hid His Face from His darling Son!)

I guess I can't prove my case beyond shadow of doubt ... but I strongly believe this Psalm pictures Jesus in His suffering.

And you know what it does to my heart?

It makes me want to love Him more and more!

I suspect it is having the very same effect on you too!

Praise His Name.

                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 14 ... APRIL 20, 2004 (TUESDAY):

 "But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee."   Psalm 88:13

All the way through this Psalm of darkness the writer has been praying to his God! He suffers much ... but his faith wavers not!

I believe he is at least a type of Christ Jesus Who also endured hours of darkness (Gethsemane and Calvary) ... without wavering one bit in His Faith!

And the Psalm just may be an exact account of how Jesus felt and what Jesus prayed in His time of great trial on earth.

Jesus prayed much in His earthly life!  (In fact, our dear heavenly High Priest is still praying now!  He "ever liveth to make intercession!" Hebrews 7:25)

The verb here in our verse "crieth" is interesting.  While describing prayer, it translates the Hebrew "shava," meaning to shout out loud for help!  It is derived from a root stem meaning "to be free!"  This is the exact verb (in the exact form --- a 1st person Piel perfect) that Jonah (a type of Christ) used in his prayer from the belly of the great fish (Jonah 2:3)!  This even further links this Psalm to Jesus I believe.  And our verb is heavily used in the Book of Job!  (More than in any other Book of Scripture!)  And (as you well know) Job is a type of Christ in His suffering! And doesn't this sound just like Jesus?  Psalm 31:22 --- "For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee."  And (as one would nearly expect by now) our verb is used in Psalm 22, the crucifixion Psalm!  "For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard."  Psalm 22:24   And watch this one:   "I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word."   Psalm 119:147  Being in the "Piel" stem suggests that the verb is very intensive!  Praying vehemently!  Aggressively!

In Gethsemane Jesus cried to His Father!

On the Cross He cried to His Father!

He was "crying" (praying) not to be free Himself ... but to make men free (from the bondage of sin)!

The noun used here for "morning" is suggestive also.  It is "boqer" in Hebrew and means the dawn ... but in this sense:  dawn as the BREAK of day!  It comes from the verb that means to "break forth!"  (Even "to plough!")  It sounds like Jesus had some "breaking forth to do" in the morning!  I believe this hints at His glorious Resurrection!  In Micah 2:13 the Lord is even called "The Breaker" Who is coming! From the very beginning of creation God called the very first day one of "evening and morning!"  (That's the first use of our word "morning" in the Bible.)  WHY would a day be so structured?  Evening and morning!  Could it be because the greatest day ever, the day of Jesus' death on the Cross, consisted first of the evening (suffering) followed by the morning (Resurrection)?  "Evening then morning" describes our spiritual life too!

Our next word "prayer" comes from a Hebrew term meaning "to judge" ... then later taking on the meaning "to pray, to intercede!"  Pray must include some discernment ... with the aid of the Holy Spirit ... in order to be effective!  It is amazing to hear Jesus pray!  (John 17 is His longest recorded prayer in Scripture.)

And to "prevent" (Hebrew = "qadam") means to come before in time.  To be ahead of!  Jesus says here that He will be praying to the Father as the first order of the day when He arises!  Isaiah 50 adds to that thought.  "The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned."  Isaiah 50:4 

Of course just as soon as we decide we're going to "prevent" God in something ... He "outprevents" us!  See what I mean as you read Psalm 21:3 --- "For thou (Lord) preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head."  I wanted to be up before the Lord to pray and worship Him!  But He was up long before me pouring His blessings all around!  (In fact, our Lord does not "slumber or sleep" ever!  Psalm 121:3-4)

Jesus is here saying something like this.  (I believe it was His very reasoning on Calvary!) Father, you have forsaken Me.  But I know it is only temporary.  The sin debt must be paid!  Let me assure You dear Father that I will be awaiting you in prayer and trust and loving communion when the darkness is over and you have returned to My side!   (A Side now pierced and Blood stained!)

Oh!  How can we not love Him more and more this Tuesday in April?

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 13 ... APRIL 19, 2004 (MONDAY)

"Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?"   Psalm 88:12

We have been looking at this suffering Psalmist in the light of Calvary.  I believe more and more that he is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ ... or perhaps even IS the Lord Jesus Christ in pre-incarnate lamentation.

The noun "wonders" translates the Hebrew "pele" (also used back in verse 10) and means something that causes marvel!  It often means "miracle" in Scripture! (Something "different" than anything else!)

"Dark" has the idea of light being withheld.  It means obscurity.  It is used here as a picture of death.  Yet Jesus was in the dark for three hours before He died on the Cross!  Matthew 27:45 --- "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour."

Here's one "wonder" that occurred in that darkness!  Luke 23:45 --- "And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst."  What a wonder!  I now can go to God ... into His very presence!  The veil is gone!  And God can come to me ... wherever I am ... the veil is gone!  No barriers remain now that Jesus' Blood has been shed and applied!

I also have a feeling that many "wonders" happened during Jesus' three-day stay in Paradise!  But Scripture is silent here ... and I must be too.

The verb "be known" is a translation of "yada."  It means to know in a number of ways ... but certainly has intimate and assured knowledge in mind. 

Aren't you glad God can make his wonders known to us even when we are in the "dark" places of life?  (Sometimes it seems "especially" in those places!)

Also please notice that even in the midst of all this suffering and agony, the Psalmist (or the Saviour) is still critically concerned about God's Righteousness! (The word "tzsdaqah" means legally straight.  Not crooked!  Therefore approved and justified by God Himself!)

Yet to me it seems that in the grave (the afterlife --- heaven or hell) is EXACTLY where God's righteousness will be known and seen and proved minute by minute! In fact that's WHY Jesus died!  To vindicate God's righteousness so sinners could be saved and live in heaven eternally!

"Forgetfulness" is a unique word.  It is used only here in all the Bible!  It just comes from the root verb that means "to forget."  (Oblivion)

I'll guarantee you that both Hell (the place of fire and torment) and Paradise (where Old Testament Saints were awaiting their trip to glory) knew when the Righteousness of God (the Lord Jesus Himself) came to "the heart of the earth!"  (I am NOT teaching here that Jesus entered into the flames of hell!  I do not believe that at all --- no matter who is preaching it today!  Our Lord merely went to Paradise, which according to Luke 16 is separated from hell by a gulf ... yet still both are in the heart of the earth!) His Presence is always known sooner or later ... everywhere He goes!

What did Jesus and the Old Testament believers talk about those three days ... if not the very Righteousness of God?  In fact, surely heaven still marvels over God's all-wise "plan" of redemption!

We may be seeing in this precious verse today Jesus' very "strategy" for His "heart of the earth" Ministry (Campaign) during those days of spiritual "darkness," just before the glorious Resurrection!

I surely have enjoyed this Psalm!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 12 ... APRIL 18, 2004 (SUNDAY, THE LORD'S DAY)

 "Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?"  Psalm 88:11

The Psalmist is depressed!  He sees not a ray of light anywhere.  YET he returns again and again to His God for counsel and strength!

I believe that whoever wrote this Psalm is speaking of Someone far beyond himself!  In other words ... the Psalmist's suffering prefigure the Sufferings of the coming Messiah.

He here in today's verse asks his God if "lovingkindness" can be shown in the grave. The obvious implication is that it can not.  The noun translates "chesed" which is a key Old Testament noun!  It means mercy or goodness or favour.  (It's a first cousin to the New Testament concept of "grace.")

I believe however that when Jesus died (for the three days He was in the "grave") ... He went to "paradise."  (That's exactly what He told the repenting thief at Calvary.  Luke 23:43 --- "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.")

Paradise was apparently then in the "heart of the earth."  In Matthew 12:40 Jesus taught us:  "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

There Jesus told the departed Old Testament saints that Victory had been won at the Cross!  What "good news!"  He led them free from the heart of the earth to the Heaven of Heavens above earth upon His Resurrection!  He "led captivity captive!" Do you not think that to those believers (Abraham, Elijah, Moses and the whole crowd) THAT would have been "lovingkindness" in the grave?

"Declared" (Hebrew = "sapher") is the verb that means to count, to number or to tell, to scribe or even (once) to talk.  (It's an imperfect verb in the sense of its "time" implications.  On-going action!)  Somehow I suspect that one of the great topics of heaven today IS the lovingkindess of God!  Don't you?

And the noun "grave" (Hebrew = "qeber") does mean just that!  It is translated grave 35 times and sepulchre 25 times and buryingplace 6 times in the King James Bible. Its first use in the Bible as a noun is found in Genesis 23:4 where Abraham secures a buryingplace for his wife Sarah!  She is a type of Israel ... and that's basically who Jesus went to get during His burial ... Israel and the few Gentiles who had believed before Calvary!  (Glory to God!)

Then "faithfulness" is discussed!  "Emunah" means fidelity or steadfastness!  (It ultimately comes from the Hebrew word "amen!"  Truth!  Firmness!)  The Psalmist believes that dead people can't remember God's faithfulness.  BUT when placed in the context of Jesus' sacrificial (vicarious) death for sinners ... God's FAITHFULNESS  becomes paramount! Nothing in all the Bible so fully illustrates God's lovingkindness and faithfulness as does the Cross of Calvary!

Here's something astounding!  The Psalm following our 88th Psalm ... in other words, Psalm 89 ... uses this word for "faithfulness" 5 times!  (Once it's translated "truth.")  Almost as if to say that the result of all the agony of Psalm 88 ... is the strong conviction that God is FAITHFUL in every way (as declared forcefully in Psalm 89)!

Death to our writer is "destruction."  The very word here is in Hebrew "abaddon!"  It is only used 6 times in the Old Testament, each time being translated "destruction." This very word is transliterated into the New Testament in Revelation 9:11 --- "And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is ABADDON, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon." It is speaking of hell itself!  (However I strongly suspect that in hell this very moment people DO remember God's faithfulness!  And regret spurning His Mercy!)

But what does "hell" have to do with the death of Jesus?  (IF the Psalm reflects Jesus' experiences at all.  Some so NOT believe so!  I do believe I see Jesus here strongly!) 

Now do not misunderstand me.  I do NOT believe Jesus died and went to hell as many preachers now declare.  I believe He died and went to Paradise just like He said.  BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT ON THE CROSS HE SUFFERED THE EQUIVALENT OF MY HELL FOR ME ... HE PAID ALL MY SIN DEBT ... HE MADE PROPITIATION ON MY BEHALF!  HE SUFFERED SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL DEATH IN MY STEAD! 



(I believe this Psalm is almost proving to be a spiritual "x-ray" of Jesus' inner emotional and spiritual thoughts concerning the Cross itself!  Psalm 88 is "didactic" ... which means instructional ... or plainly teaching us ... the things of God!)

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 11 ... APRIL 17, 2004 (SATURDAY)

"Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah." Psalm 88:10

The Psalmist appears to be very discouraged, even depressed.

He seems fearful of death. Who isnít?

He here has two questions for God. In the writerís mind the questions are preposterous! The answers are certain! No one can show wonders (or anything else) to the dead. And the dead canít get up and praise God! Everyone knows that. And he is expressing the Old Testament belief of his day.

BUT ... what if we take the Psalm and put it on the lips of Jesus our Lord?  Can HE perhaps answer the puzzled Psalmist here?

Could even Jesus show wonders to the dead?

Could He make the dead arise and praise God?

Well ... HE SURE DID!

The verb "shew" translates Hebrew "asah." It means to do or to make or to accomplish or even to fashion! But itís an "imperfect" verb! (Incomplete action!) Who could keep on and on and on raising the dead? (I know Someone Who has been doing it for thousands of years now!)

"Wonders" is the Hebrew noun "pele" and means miracles! (It is derived from a verb that means to distinguish! It speaks of Something that's very different!)

And using this very word ... Isaiah names our dear  Saviour!  Isaiah 9:6 --- "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."  Glory to God!

The word "dead" describes ones who have died, been killed or even been executed. (Dead by any manner!) You donít need many adjectives to accompany the word "dead!"

And what about that word "arise?" This Psalmist may have never even heard of any such thing as the dead being raised! He well may not have yet learned of Elijahís and Elishaís miracles. The Old Testament was not yet completed.

"Arise" is "qum," and means to stand up! (Ongoing action again!) The New Testament word for resurrection also means to stand up! (anastasis) When Jesus came ... I know of three people who were raised from the dead! The son of the widow of Nain in Luke 7. A little 12 year old girl in three of the Gospels. See Mark 5 for an example. And Lazarus in John 11. One had been dead a few minutes. Another a few hours and the third a few days! But all three were raised from the grave.

"Praise" is "yadah" in Hebrew and initially means "to throw or to shoot " as one would do with arrows. (I think a lovely word picture here would be one who was so excited about the Lord that he or she was literally "throwing" Him thanks and love and kisses!) Obviously the word later comes to mean "giving thanks." (Ongoing action again ... naturally ... or should I say supernaturally?)

What started out as a pretty depressing verse has suddenly become a thrilling part of Scripture!


Donít you just love Him? Jesus, the One Who yet shows wonders to the dead!

Here's how our verse ends: "Selah!"

The word may have as simple a definition as a musical "pause."  If so ...

Stop and think about this for a while!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 10 ... APRIL 16 2004:

 "Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee."  Psalm 88:9

This well may be the voice of Jesus crying out to His Father from the Cross of Calvary (through the "eye" of Bible prophecy).

The verb "mourneth" (in Hebrew = "daab") means to languish or faint or pine away. Its sense of "timing" is perfect, suggesting completed action!  This happened to Jesus on the Cross only!  He is NOT discouraged or weak today!  It is only used 3 times in the whole Bible!

"Affliction" is "oniy" and means depression.  (To be abased or to be humbled)  Also at times it can means misery or even poverty.  It's first Bible use (in this very form) is the term: "the bread of affliction" in Deuteronomy 16:3.  Jesus on Calvary not only drank the cup of God's Wrath ... but ate His Bread of affliction also!

To "call" means to ("qara") cry out loud.  To interrupt a person!  To even accost them!  It is a very strong word.  Again this is a "perfect" verb ... it has in mind only one season of prayer ... that is now past.  (Jesus today in heaven is NOT having to cry out loud to the Father in the same sense He did from the Cross!)

"Daily" needs two Hebrew words to express itself!  "Kol" means the whole, or all. And "yom" means day in the sense of a regular 24 hour progression of time.  Jesus called out to His Father all the whole day of His Passion.  We refer to it as "Calvary."  To Jesus it was (among many other things) a Prayer Retreat!  (Hebrews 5:8 comes to mind here.)

"Stretched out" translates "satach" and means to expand or to enlarge. Its first use is in Numbers 11:22 where the Jews (in sin) spread out their quail all over the camp ... kindling God's anger and judgment!  First use:  to sin!  Our use here: (If Jesus stretching our His hands on the Cross is in view) to forgive sin!  Glory to God!

What if Jesus did apply these words personally on Calvary!  History says His hands were stretched out for execution (capital punishment).  Jesus says He stretched them out to His Father!  (In agony and writhing or in worship?  Dare we believe He was worshipping or glorifying His Father even while dying on the hill of Golgotha!)

If we are anywhere near "right" interpreting this Psalm ... we're standing on Holy Ground!

Let's leave for today reverently.  (In a spirit of deep worship!)

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 9 ... APRIL 14, 2004:

Our journey through Psalm 88 today brings us to verse 8.

 "Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth."   Psalm 88:8

The suffering Psalmist continues his lament. 

Notice that in all his agony he never doubts that there is a God Who is in charge of it all!  He does not abandon his faith.  He recognizes God as the One Who has done these things to him.

Now God has "put away" some things from him.  The verb is "rachaq" and means to make something distant or even to remove it.   The first use of the verb in Scripture is in Genesis 21:16 and is rendered "a good way off!"  Jesus uses the verb (prophetically) in Psalm 22:11 where He prays to His Father --- "Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help."  And again in Psalm 22:19 --- "But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me."  This is definitely a "Jesus" verb!

The noun "acquaintance" is derived from "yada," a verb meaning to be closely aware of something or someone.  (To know in detail, to know intimately, to know absolutely)  The subject in our Psalm has been removed from someone who is very dear to him!  (I wonder if Jesus on the Cross could have desperately missed His precious communion with the Holy Spirit of God as well as fellowship with His Father!  Again remember:  "And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"   Mark 15:34

Even the verb "made" carries the idea of a direct act of God!  "Shiyth" means to set or appoint or to fix!  Both these verbs have been "perfects" --- action completed! God will NEVER again separate Jesus from intimacy with the Godhead!  (It sounds here like Jesus' Death was "appointed" of God!  As is ours!)

The noun "abomination" translates "toebah," and means something disgusting! (From the verb ... to detest!)  1st Bible use:  Genesis 43:32 where the Jews were an abomination to the Egyptians!  It looks like Jesus became one of us and took on our very abominations, doesn't it?  This is the ONLY TIME the word appears in all the Psalms!

"Shut up" is in Hebrew "kala."  It means to restrict, to hold back, to prohibit.  It is only used 18 times in all Scripture!  When God stopped the rain (Noah's flood) we are told in Genesis 8:2 --- " ... and the rain from heaven was restrained."  But the "key" to the word may be found in Psalm 40 (which speaks of Jesus THE Messiah) and says "WITHHOLD not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me."  Psalm 40:11  On the Cross God the Father withheld tender mercies from Jesus because of the sin debt He was paying!

To "come forth" means ("yatzsa") to exit!  The Psalmist just sees no way out of his dilemma.  (And Jesus, apart from His Father's approval, will not be raised from the dead!  He will not effect His own Resurrection without the Father's consent!  Although He had the power to do so.  In John 10:18 our Lord said of His Life: "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.")

Each new verse of Psalm 88 (If applied to Jesus the suffering Saviour) adds new light to His anguish on the Cross.

Oh, how we should love and worship Him today!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 8 ... APRIL 13, 2004:

Here is today's verse:

"Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah."  Psalm 88:7

The Psalmist here is still talking to God.

The word for wrath is "chemah" in Hebrew. It means "heat" (from a verb meaning "to be hot"). But here's an interesting little note. Strong's Concordance has a comment on our word.  The "heat" here figuratively means "to conceive!" (As when one is hot in passion)

IF our Psalm pictures Jesus in His suffering and death on the Cross ... God's anger toward the sin Jesus bore ... could also be the means used to shed the Blood of Jesus ... thereby conceiving many children! A whole family of born again children of God! It is nearly a "birthing room" scenario!

The first Bible use of our word (Genesis 27:44) is translated "fury." (Also elsewhere the King James Bible renders our word displeasure, indignation and rage!)

The verb "lieth hard" (a Qal perfect ... meaning active voice and completed action) suggests that God's anger at the sin Jesus bore (on our behalf) came upon Him but once! It is over! The price is paid! Sin is atoned! Propitiation is rendered! It means to lean something against someone! Look at this use of our verb: "And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock." Exodus 29:10 God "laid hands" on Jesus at the Cross! In fact it is consistently the term the Old Testament uses for laying hands on the head of the innocent lamb (or other animals) used for sacrifice!

The next verb, "afflicted" (in Hebrew = "anah") literally means "to look down on!" It then came to mean "to depress." Hence it is rendered "to afflict" (50 times in the King James Version). It also is translated "humble" 11 times or troubled or weakened! But, again, here is an unusual "twist" to one of these Psalm 88 words ... it is twice in the King James Version translated "sing!" Whatever the Psalm typifies and describes ... it is a "bittersweet" experience! The horrors of sin ... and the joys of atonement are pictured I believe.

And the last little word in the passage, "waves" translates "mishbar," a Hebrew noun meaning "a breaker." (From the verb = to burst, to crush!) Its first Bible use speaks of "the waves of death" in 2 Samuel 22:5. Again, watch this ironic twist of context! 2 Kings 19:3 --- "And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth." This term so often used for death ... is now here used for birth! (Again in Isaiah 37:3 too!) And read Hosea 13:13 --- "The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children." Jesus death ... our second birth! Glory to God!

And there are several parallel references in which our word appears in description of Jesus' Calvary ordeal! See Psalm 42:8 and Jonah 2:4 for examples. (Jonah was a type of Christ!)

Then our verse closes with "selah." It may just be a musical term indicating "Stop and think about this." Or it may come from a Hebrew verb that means "to lift up" ... indicating an acceleration of intensity in the Psalm! (Even more suffering?)

This chapter of God's Word ought to make us ALL love Jesus more and more!

                                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 7 ... (MONDAY, APRIL 12, 2004)

Today's verse is absolutely amazing!

"Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps."  Psalm 88:6

The words "pit, darkness and deeps" are all used here to describe the place of the dead.

Two of our words, "pit and darkness," have either been used earlier or will be later in the Psalm.  Only "deeps" is peculiar to our verse.  It translates a Hebrew word "matzsolah" which means the very bottom(!!!) of something.  It literally means "to sink!"  The precious thing about the word is that it is twice used in Psalm 69, which is definitely talking about the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ (in many ways)!  In fact, we should study Psalm 69 sometime.

It just could be that here we're being instructed that Jesus experienced the "deeps" (the verb depths, the "bottoms") of sin on that old rugged Cross ... to purge us from our iniquity!  He was made to be SIN for us ... that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him!  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Here's an interesting verse I found while studying our word.  Psalm 68:22 --- "The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea."  God says He found His people in the "deeps" of the sea!  And He brought them out of there!

Jesus went there (the "depths") on Calvary ... on a rescue mission!  There He found us and brought us up out of that miry pit!  ... out of that deep sea of wickedness!  Praise His dear Name!

BUT also notice that our verse today attributes all this darkness and all this despair to the hand of God Himself!

The Psalmist says to God ... "THOU hast laid me" here in this situation!  Isn't that exactly what Jesus said and the Word taught of the Cross?  Our Lord, dying that day, was "smitten of God!"  He was "bruised" of His Father!  The Father allowed His only begotten Son to die for you and me!  (The verb "has laid" just means "to place.") The first Bible use of the word is in Genesis 3:15 where God says to the serpent (devil): "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."  The words "will put" translate "shiyth," our word for "hast laid."  It seems the Lord solved the sin in Eden problem with the Saviour on the Cross situation!

What love!

Pray that I don't read too much of "Jesus" into this Psalm.  However, if I err ... I do hope it is in the area of seeing Jesus everywhere in the Bible!

So far ... I'm pretty sure we are safe!

                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 6 ... (SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 2004)

Our verse today is more difficult.

 "Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand."   Psalm 88:5

The Psalmist continues to describe himself. 

To call being "dead" a state of freedom is rather unusual!  "Free" comes from a verb that means "to manumit," to give a slave his or her liberty!  (To spread loose!)  To exempt from bondage!

What agony must have been his to long for death and call it liberty!

(This reminds me of the agony Jesus suffered in the Garden!  Luke 22:44 --- "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.")

Jesus also longed to complete His assignment on the Cross!  He longed to obey His Father's Will and die for lost mankind!  In Luke 12:50 Jesus (talking about the Hour of His death on the Cross) said: "But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!"  ("Straitened = "sunecho" = indicative present passive of word meaning "to hold with" ... held captive)  "Accomplished" translates "teleo" as an aorist subjunctive passive.  To reach the goal. 

The word "slain" means fatally wounded, pierced (!!!), wounded, or even profaned! What a descriptive term!  I am not insisting on hermeneutical perfection here ... I am just a student of the Word of God ... but I am seeing more and more of Jesus in this text!  Jesus was pierced!  And He was profaned on Calvary! 

To "remember" no more translates "zakar," meaning to mark so as to recognize, to mention, to bd mindful of!  ("Matthew 27:46 --- "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?")

"Cut off" means to divide, to cut down or to snatch!  (To be separated, to be excluded!)  Remember Isaiah 53 and its declaration about Jesus being "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."  Isaiah 53:4  Furthermore Isaiah adds:  "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him."  Isaiah 53:10

What would it have meant to be cut off from the Hand of the Lord?  That's exactly what this Psalmist felt he was experiencing.  (And it is certainly what Jesus endured at Calvary!)  Listen to him in John 10: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.  I and my Father are one."  It looks to me like we are in Jesus' Hand ... and also in the Father's Hand ... which means Jesus' Hand is also in the Father's Hand.  But they were torn apart at the Cross because of the sin of the world!  The cost to God for our redemption is enormous!

More tomorrow, Lord willing!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 5 ... (FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 2004)

The agony of our Psalmist continues.

 "I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength."  (Psalm 88:4)

Our opening verb "counted" has a word picture behind it.  It literally means to plait or to weave!  Then it comes to mean to think or to compute or to figure or to surmise.  The "action" here is completed.  The "conclusion" has already been reached.  You might say that the word means "esteemed!"  (It is the very verb of Isaiah 53:4!) 

To "go down" means to descend or to sink.  (Like what Jonah did when he was thrown overboard!)  Sometimes the Cross of Jesus is pictured in the Old Testament as a "drowning" experience.  For example:  "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me."  Psalm 42:7

"Pit" means a cistern or a well or a dungeon (from "bor," a hole).  Joseph, a type of Christ, was thrown into a pit!  So was Jeremiah!  (In both cases it's our same word as here!)  Because the Lord Jesus died and went into a "pit" called the grave ... I have been lifted by God's Grace and Jesus' Blood out of a horrible pit! Psalm 40:2 says:  "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."

The specific word here for "man" means a warrior!  A valiant man!  A strong man!  (This still sounds to me like it could have "hints" of Jesus all over it!)

And the noun "strength" is captivating!  It, while meaning strong, arrives at the definition in the following manner.  It's verbal background means "to twist." (Several things taken and aligned and twisted together to make one strong unit!) This is strength from a plurality which is in essence a unity!  Jesus was strong because He, the Father and the Holy Spirit, in constant communion for all eternity were One!  BUT what if on the Cross, He was forsaken by His Father and all alone ... then His strengthlessness or weakness would have been a result of His terrible dislocation from fellowship with His Father and the dear Spirit.  That's exactly what this word implies!

I don't yet know what we've gotten "into" here ... but so far it sure looks good!

Come back tomorrow ... and we'll go a little further, Lord willing.

                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell





 "For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave."    (Psalm 88:3)

Now the "tone" is being set for the whole Psalm.

By his "soul" the Psalmist simply means his "innermost being."  This Hebrew noun, "nephesh," means that which "breathes."

The adjective "full" (Hebrew = "saba") means plenty, enough, satiated, and even once is translated "weary."

"Troubles" is the common Hebrew noun ("ra") for wickedness!  (Bad or evil!)  It comes from a verb that means to spoil or to make good for nothing.  And it is plural in our verse.

The verb "draweth nigh" translates "naga," which 92 times in the King James Version is rendered "touch or touched or toucheth."  (For example, Genesis 3:3)  Its "time" sense is "imperfect" ... indicating unfinished action. 

The noun "grave" is "sheol" or "shaol" and means the place of the departed dead.  (The underworld)

When viewing our text as possibly portraying Jesus Christ our Lord, we are  reminded of One Who emptied Himself of glory ... that He might be filled with troubles! 

He Who was free from sin became full of troubles ... so that we who were full of sin might be free of troubles!

Here is something else quite interesting, the noun for "life" (Hebrew = chay") is here in the plural!  His "lives" are drawing night to the grave!  (In Isaiah 53:9 concerning Jesus on the Cross, the word "death" is also plural!)  Jesus died physically and spiritually on that Cross so sinners like us could be saved!

The word for "grave" (Sheol) literally means to devour or to desire! "The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough." Proverbs 30:15-16

Jesus' soul did verily become full of "troubles" ("ra" = wickednesses) when He took our sins upon Himself!  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Maybe we are beginning to see Someone standing in the shadows here!

Well keep looking.

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell





 "Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry."  Psalm 88:2

This verse alone is almost an introductory preface to the whole Psalm.  This chapter IS one great prayer or cry unto the Lord.

The noun for "prayer" is "tephillah."  It means to make intercession.  But it comes from a verb that means "to judge!"  Did you know that every time we pray we must first of all "judge" a situation and try to discern the Lord's will about the matter. Sometimes that's not easy!  In fact I believe that's exactly one reason why we are given the Holy Spirit.  Romans 8:26 says: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

The verb "come" (or technically here "let come") translates a little Hebrew word "bo." It means to enter, to go in, to light upon!  It's a Qal (simple active voice) imperfect (action not completed at the time of writing).  The Psalmist wants God to keep on allowing his prayers to enter into heaven!

And even the word expressed as "before Thee" has significance!  It means "face." Our writer here is asking God to allow him to approach with his needs ... "face to face" with the Lord God Almighty!  (That sounds a lot like coming before the Throne of Grace, doesn't it?  Hebrews 4:16)

This alone proves that God determines what does and does not gain entrance to His Presence!

Then a second request is immediately voiced.  "Incline" to my cry!  The verb, an imperative (!!!), means "to stretch out!"  (To extend or to bend!)  It's very first Bible use (in any form) is in Genesis 12:8 where Abraham "pitched" his tent.  He "stretched out" the tent as he erected it.  The first use in the form we have here is located in 2 Kings 19:16 where godly King Hezekiah prays --- "LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God."

The noun for ear ("ozen") in Hebrew means broadness!  It's from the verb "to expand!"  It's a picture of one "cupping" his or her ear in order to hear even the faintest sounds!  (What a lovely picture of God's love for us and attentiveness to us as we pray!)

And the word "cry" is astounding when used in the context of this Psalm of suffering!  It indicates a creaking or shrill sound ... but in Scripture is mostly used in expressing joy!  Here are the numerical statistics of its King James usage:  cry 12 times, singing 9 times, rejoicing 3 times, joy 3 times, gladness 1 time, proclamation 1 time, shouting 1 time, sing 1 time, songs 1 time, triumph 1 time ... for a total of  33 times.  It is a word of praise ... and is offered by a suffering saint!  (Sounds like Habakkuk's great statement:  "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18)

I have already gained fresh respect and admiration for the Psalmist today!  What an example he sets for us all!  (I'm already beginning to wonder if He may be a type of Christ, the Perfect Sufferer!)

More tomorrow, Lord willing.

                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




PSALM 88 ... LESSON 2 (TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2004)

"O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee."  Psalm 88:1

The "Anchor" that holds the Psalmist throughout his whole ordeal is mentioned in the first half of the first verse!  "The Lord God of his salvation!"  That's both major Old Testament Names for God ... Jehovah and Elohim.  Jehovah is used 6,519 times in the Bible and Elohim 2,606 times!  To be established in the storm ... one MUST know His God!  The second thing of which the Psalmist seems to be sure is his very "salvation."  This is the noun "yeshuah" and means help, deliverance, health, or even welfare.  (In regard to one's soul it means deliverance from hell and the gift of eternal life in heaven!)  This writer has assurance!

As far as I can tell we have just surveyed the brightest section of the whole Psalm. One half of one verse.  But it IS bright!  Thank the Lord!

The verb "cried" properly means "to shriek!"  The verb is often used in the sense of crying out when in need!  It's first Bible use (of a total of 55 appearances in the Scriptures) is in Genesis 4:10 where God speaks to the murderer Cain and says: "And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood CRIETH unto me from the ground."  The Psalmist cries to God in agony!  And God seems to remain silent!  Yet one great truth may be traveling just under the surface all the way through the Psalm ... the CRY of God back to the suffering saint!  The cry of the Blood of the Lamb that says "I have overcome ... and you will too!"

The term "day and night" is used 28 times in our English (King James) Bibles.  It's LAST use in Scripture is interesting in our context here.  Revelation 20:10 --- "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."  The Psalmist is suffering day and night right now.  But eventually the devil who is responsible for all agony will be suffering day and night in the lake of fire!

And look where the writer places himself even as he cries out in frustration!  Right in front of the Lord God Almighty ... "before Thee!"

"Before" is in Hebrew "neged" and means in front of!  (Conspicuously in the sight of Someone!)  In Genesis 47:15 our word is translated "in thy presence!" 

I can already tell this sufferer is a man of great faith!

And that's exactly what the name "Heman" means (in the superscription above verse 1 of this Psalm)!  Heman means "faithful!"

What lessons are presented to us just via verse 1!

Lord willing, more tomorrow.

                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Truly this is a unique Psalm!

I know of no other like it in all the Book.

Hundreds, if not thousands of Bible teachers and preachers have called it "the darkest Psalm in the whole Bible!"

One said it was "A Song Sobbing with Sadness!"

Another called it the "Supplication of a Submerged Soul."

Yet a third said it was filled with "dejection, despair, death and darkness!

"Gloomiest of all!" echoed an expositor!

Unlike any other Psalm ... this one has no rays of light at all! 

No "breaks" for praise or gratitude to God.

It is all filled with grief.

I read somewhere that is was "nicknamed" by one old writer "The Second Job" of the Bible, alluding to the suffering patriarch of earlier days.

If you doubt the accuracy of these comments ... read the whole Psalm carefully.  It is printed word for word above this article.  You will agree with all these men of God I'm sure.

BUT this Passage IS in the Bible!  It IS inspired of God!  It contains NO MISTAKES! God knows what He is doing!  It is written for our profit!  (2 Timothy 3:16 --- "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable ....")

Therefore we must study it in these next few days, Lord willing.

I actually wonder if the Psalm does not look past the suffering of just one human (the Psalmist) and foreshadow the Suffering One Who was to come, Jesus the Son of God!  If so ... it is Messianic in its implications!

I'm sure we are on holy ground!

Let's proceed reverently.

                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



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