“O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before You.  Let my prayer come before You; incline Your ear unto my cry—for my soul is full of troubles.  And my life draws nigh unto the grave.  I am counted with them that go down into the pit; I am as a man that has no strength.”

Psalm 88:1-4

“Melancholy mists” are a part of every Pilgrim’s journey; yet, in the midst of them the “Man of Sorrows” (Is. 53:3) is still “a very Present Help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).

Little is known about Heman, the author of today’s Manna, although it is supposed he was the son of Zerah, who was a grandson to Samuel, the prophet (I Chron. 6:33; 15:17).  Regardless, the psalm’s preface tells us it was a “Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leanoth” and was a “Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite (Judahite).”

Although most of that is unfamiliar to us, most scholars conclude that the “sons of Korah” likely refers to the descendants of the one who led a revolt against Moses and Aaron (Num. 16:1-49) and became ministers of music in the Tabernacle during the time of David (I Chron. 6:31-37).  Likewise, the term “Mahalath Leanoth” refers to a choreographic directing and singing antiphonally, which was usually two, semi-independent choirs interacting with each other by singing or reciting alternating portions of the music.  And, the word “maschil” is a Hebrew word which means “meditation” or “contemplation.”

Thus, it’s the picture of a conductor standing before a large choir. . .directing them as they sing this psalm. . . going back and forth between them with the music and the lyrics. . .vocally weaving everything together in a beautiful way. . .as the subdued, melancholy melody wafts its way to the listening audience.

Although we should always seek to be upbeat in our thoughts and words (Ps. 19:14; Phil. 4:7-9), the fact remains that life is not always sunshine and mountaintop experiences.  There are times when we find ourselves down in dark valleys, trudging through miry bogs created by multiple sorrows of soul—some self-imposed and others inflicted upon us.

It’s during those times that we, like the psalmist, must remember to “cry out day and night to the Lord God of our salvation.”  If our “soul if full of troubles” and we feel like one whose “life is drawing near unto the grave,” we should tell Him.  And, if others have written us off and said “You’re as good as dead and are like a man that has no strength,” we should (as the old Gospel song says) be honest and “Tell it to Jesus—for He is a Friend that’s well-known.”

Oh, dear Pilgrim, Ps. 88 isn’t often sung as most church’s call to worship on Sunday mornings.  Again, its words are heavy and subdued; yet, such is a part of our “Pilgrim’s Progress” and we must ever remember that there’s One Who’s preceded us through such dark days and promised “to never leave us or forsake us” (Heb. 13:5b).

If you’re “mourning today because of your affliction” (v.9a), Pilgrim, “call out to the Lord and uplift your hands toward Him” (v.9b).  Let your weeping in the wee hours of the morning “come before the Lord” (v.13) and know He will “incline His ear unto your cry” (v.2).  Then, begin “capturing your thoughts” and filling your mouth with praise to God (Ps. 89:1).

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated June 27, 2010

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