Psalm 88:6
You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Lowest pit.—See Note, Psalm 86:13.

Psalm 88:6-7. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, &c. — In hopeless and remediless calamities. Thus greatly may good men be afflicted, and such dismal apprehensions may they have concerning their afflictions, and such dark conclusions may they sometimes be ready to make concerning the issue of them, through the power of melancholy, and the weakness of faith. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me — The sense of thy wrath, or rather, the effects of it, as the next clause explains it. Thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves — With thy judgments breaking in furiously upon me, like the waves of the sea.88:1-9 The first words of the psalmist are the only words of comfort and support in this psalm. Thus greatly may good men be afflicted, and such dismal thoughts may they have about their afflictions, and such dark conclusion may they make about their end, through the power of melancholy and the weakness of faith. He complained most of God's displeasure. Even the children of God's love may sometimes think themselves children of wrath and no outward trouble can be so hard upon them as that. Probably the psalmist described his own case, yet he leads to Christ. Thus are we called to look unto Jesus, wounded and bruised for our iniquities. But the wrath of God poured the greatest bitterness into his cup. This weighed him down into darkness and the deep.Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit - That is, I am as if I were thus laid; the deep grave seems now to lie so certainly before me, that it may be spoken of as if it were already my abode. The words rendered "lowest pit" mean literally the pit under, or beneath. The reference is to the sepulchre, as in Psalm 88:4.

In darkness - The dark grave; the realms of the dead. See the notes at Job 10:21-22.

In the deeps - The caverns; the deep places of the earth or the sea. All these expressions are designed to convey the idea that he was near the grave; that there was no hope for him; that he must die. Perhaps also there is connected with this the idea of trouble, of anguish, of sorrow; of that mental darkness of which the grave was an image, and into which he was plunged by the prospect of death. The whole scene was a sad one, and he was overwhelmed with grief, and saw only the prospect of continued sorrow and gloom. Even a good man may be made afraid - may have his mind made sad and sorrowful - by the prospect of dying. See Isaiah 38. Death is naturally gloomy; and when the light of religion does not shine upon the soul, and its comforts do not fill the heart, it is but natural that the mind should be full of gloom.

6. Similar figures for distress in Ps 63:9; 69:3. Either, first, in the grave; the same thing being expressed in divers words; or, secondly, in hopeless and remediless calamities. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit,.... The Targum interprets it of

"captivity which was like unto the lowest pit;''

and so Jarchi and Kimchi. Some understand it of a prison or dungeon, into which the psalmist was put; it may be interpreted of the pit of the grave, into which Christ was laid; though he continued in it not so long as to see corruption; from that prison and judgment he was quickly taken, Psalm 16:10, "in darkness"; both corporeal and spiritual, Matthew 27:45, and it is in the Hebrew text "in darknesses" (k), denoting both:

in the deeps; in the deep waters of affliction, sorrows, and sufferings; see Psalm 69:1. The allusion is to a dark and deep pit, under ground, such as in the eastern countries they used to put their captives and prisoners into in the night, and take them out in the morning; and which custom continues still among the Turks. Leo Africanus (l) says he has seen three thousand Christian captives together, clothed in a woollen sack, and chained to one another; and in the night put into pits or ditches under ground; see Zechariah 9:11.

(k) "in loca tenebrosa", Tigurine version, Musculus; "in tenebrosissimis", Junius & Tremellius; "in densis tenebris", Piscator; "in caligines, vel obscuritates", Gejerus. (l) Descriptio Africae, l. 3. p. 413.

Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Thou hast laid me] God is treating him as though he were actually dead. The same word is used in the same connexion in Psalm 49:14.

in the lowest pit] The nether world in the depths of the earth. Cp. Psalm 86:13; Psalm 63:9; Lamentations 3:55. The Targum explains it allegorically of the Exile. “Thou hast placed me in exile which is like the nether pit.” in darkness] R.V. in dark places. So Sheol is described in Psalm 143:3; Lamentations 3:6. Cp. Job 10:21-22.

in the deeps] A word generally used of the depths of the sea: here metaphorically of the depths of misery (Psalm 69:15; cp. Lamentations 3:54), or as another synonym for Sheol, which was supposed to be situated below the sea. Cp. Psalm 71:20; Job 26:5.

The LXX and Syr. however read ‘shadow of death’ or ‘deep gloom’ (Psalm 44:19, note). This reading only implies a transposition of the consonants in the Heb. text, and is supported by the parallel passage in Job 10:21-22, which seems to be in the Psalmist’s mind.Verse 6. - Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit. The affliction whereof the psalmist complains has come direct from the hand of Cod. It is some severe stroke of illness which has brought him to his last gasp. The "lowest pit" is here metaphorical - the deepest depth of calamity. In darkness; literally, in darknesses, where no ray of thy favour shines upon me. In the deeps (comp. Psalm 69:2, "deep waters, where the floods overflow him"). Inasmuch now as the nations come thus into the church (or congregation) of the children of God and of the children of Abraham, Zion becomes by degrees a church immeasurably great. To Zion, however, or of Zion (ל of reference to), shall it be said אישׁ ואישׁ ילּד־בּהּ. Zion, the one city, stands in contrast to all the countries, the one city of God in contrast to the kingdoms of the world, and אישׁ ואישׁ in contrast to זה. This contrast, upon the correct apprehension of which depends the understanding of the whole Psalm, is missed when it is said, "whilst in relation to other countries it is always only the whole nation that comes under consideration, Zion is not reckoned up as a nation, but by persons" (Hofmann). With this rendering the ילּד retires into the background; in that case this giving of prominence to the value of the individual exceeds the ancient range of conception, and it is also an inadmissible appraisement that in Zion each individual is as important as a nation as a whole. Elsewhere אישׁ אישׁ, Leviticus 17:10, Leviticus 17:13, or אישׁ ואישׁ, Esther 1:8, signifies each and every one; accordingly here אישׁ ואישׁ (individual and, or after, individual) affirms a progressus in infinitum, where one is ever added to another. Of an immeasurable multitude, and of each individual in this multitude in particular, it is said that he was born in Zion. Now, too, והוּא כוננה עליון has a significant connection with what precedes. Whilst from among foreign peoples more and more are continually acquiring the right of natives in Zion, and thus are entering into a new national alliance, so that a breach of their original national friendships is taking place, He Himself (cf. 1 Samuel 20:9), the Most High, will uphold Zion (Psalm 48:9), so that under His protection and blessing it shall become ever greater and more glorious. Psalm 87:6 tells us what will be the result of such a progressive incorporation in the church of Zion of those who have hitherto been far removed, viz., Jahve will reckon when He writeth down (כּתוב as in Joshua 18:8) the nations; or better - since this would more readily be expressed by בּכתבו, and the book of the living (Isaiah 4:3) is one already existing from time immemorial - He will reckon in the list (כתוב after the form חלום, חלו, פּקוד equals כּתב, Ezekiel 13:9) of the nations, i.e., when He goes over the nations that are written down there and chosen for the coming salvation, "this one was born there;" He will therefore acknowledge them one after another as those born in Zion. The end of all history is that Zion shall become the metropolis of all nations. When the fulness of the Gentiles is thus come in, then shall all and each one as well singing as dancing say (supply יאמרוּ): All my fountains are in thee. Among the old translators the rendering of Aquila is the best: καὶ ᾄδοντες ὡς χοροί· πᾶσαι πηγαὶ ἐν σοί, which Jerome follows, et cantores quasi in choris: omnes fontes mei in te. One would rather render cholaliym, "flute-players" (lxx ὡς ἐν αὐλοῖς); but to pipe or play the flute is חלּל (a denominative from חליל), 1 Kings 1:40, whereas to dance is חלל (Pilel of חוּל); it is therefore equals מחוללים, like לצצים, Hosea 7:5. But it must not moreover be rendered, "And singers as well as dancers (will say);" for "singers" is משׁררים, not שׁרים, which signifies cantantes, not cantores. Singing as dancing, i.e., making known their festive joy as well by the one as by the other, shall the men of all nations incorporated in Zion say: All my fountains, i.e., fountains of salvation (after Isaiah 12:3), are in thee (O city of God). It has also been interpreted: my looks (i.e., the object on which my eye is fixed, or the delight of my eyes), or: my thoughts (after the modern Hebrew עיּן of spiritual meditation); but both are incongruous. The conjecture, too, of Bttcher, and even before him of Schnurrer (Dissertationes, p. 150), כל־מעיני, all who take up their abode (instead of which Hupfeld conjectures מעיני, all my near-dwellers, i.e., those who dwell with me under the same roof)

(Note: Hupfeld cites Rashi as having thus explained it; but his gloss is to be rendered: my whole inmost part (after the Aramaic equals מעי) is with thee, i.e., they salvation.)),

is not Hebrew, and deprives us of the thought which corresponds to the aim of the whole, that Jerusalem shall be universally regarded as the place where the water of life springs for the whole of mankind, and shall be universally praised as this place of fountains.

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