Psalm 88:14
LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?
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(14) Castest thou off.—The idea is that of throwing away something with loathing. (Comp. Psalm 43:2.)

88:10-18 Departed souls may declare God's faithfulness, justice, and lovingkindness; but deceased bodies can neither receive God's favours in comfort, nor return them in praise. The psalmist resolved to continue in prayer, and the more so, because deliverance did not come speedily. Though our prayers are not soon answered, yet we must not give over praying. The greater our troubles, the more earnest and serious we should be in prayer. Nothing grieves a child of God so much as losing sight of him; nor is there any thing he so much dreads as God's casting off his soul. If the sun be clouded, that darkens the earth; but if the sun should leave the earth, what a dungeon would it be! Even those designed for God's favours, may for a time suffer his terrors. See how deep those terrors wounded the psalmist. If friends are put far from us by providences, or death, we have reason to look upon it as affliction. Such was the calamitous state of a good man. But the pleas here used were peculiarly suited to Christ. And we are not to think that the holy Jesus suffered for us only at Gethsemane and on Calvary. His whole life was labour and sorrow; he was afflicted as never man was, from his youth up. He was prepared for that death of which he tasted through life. No man could share in the sufferings by which other men were to be redeemed. All forsook him, and fled. Oftentimes, blessed Jesus, do we forsake thee; but do not forsake us, O take not thy Holy Spirit from us.Lord, why castest thou off my soul? - Why dost thou forsake or abandon me? Why is it that thou dost not interpose, since thou hast all power, and since thou art a God of mercy? Why dost thou not deliver me from my troubles? How often are good people constrained to ask this question! How often does this language express exactly what is passing in their minds! How difficult, too, it is to answer the question, and to see why that God who has all power, and who is infinitely benevolent, does not interpose to deliver his people in affliction! The answer to this question cannot be fully given in this world; there will be an answer furnished doubtless in the future life.

Why hidest thou thy face from me? - Why dost thou not lift up the light of thy countenance upon me, and show me thy favor? God seemed to turn away from him. He seemed unwilling even to look upon the sufferer. He permitted him to bear his sorrows, unpitied and alone.

14. On the terms (Ps 27:9; 74:1; 77:7). This proceeding seems not to agree with the benignity of thy nature, nor with the manner of thy dealing with thy people.

Lord, why castest thou off my soul?.... Here begins his prayer, which he determined to present early in the morning, and consists of expostulations, and a representation of his distressed case: this shows that he was under soul desertion, and which was what so greatly afflicted him; imagining that his soul was cast off by the Lord, and had no more share in his affection, and was no more under his care, and in his sight: such expostulations of the saints, the church, and people of God, in a like case, are elsewhere met with, Psalm 43:3 and may be applied to Christ, when his soul was exceeding sorrowful unto death, and was made an offering for sin; and particularly when he was forsaken by his Father: the Targum is,

"why hast thou forsaken my soul?''

and rises the word "sabachtha", which Christ did when on the cross, Matthew 27:46, the Septuagint version is,

"wherefore, O Lord, dost thou reject my prayers?''

"why hidest thou thy face from me?" which is a denial of sensible communion, a withdrawing the influences and communications of divine grace for a time; and which sometimes is the case of the best of men, as Job, David, and others; and is very grieving and distressing to them; and, for the most part, is on account of sin; it is sin which separates between God and his people, and causes him to hide his face from them, or not grant them his gracious presence: this was the case of Christ, who knew no sin, while he was suffering for the sins of his people; see Psalm 69:17 compared with Matthew 27:46.

LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?
14. Questions of surprise and expostulation. Cp. Psalm 74:1; Psalm 77:7. For the second line cp. Job 13:24; Psalm 13:1. God “shuts out his prayer,” Lamentations 3:8.

Verse 14. - Lord, why cutest thou off my soul? The psalmist speaks here, like Job, as one aggrieved. What has he done to be "cast off"? He is evidently not aware of having sinned any grievous sin, and does not understand why he is visited with such grievous sufferings. Why hidest thou thy face from me? Perhaps it is his insensibility, his unconsciousness of real sins and shortcomings, that has drawn down upon the psalmist his chastisement. Psalm 88:14He who complains thus without knowing any comfort, and yet without despairing, gathers himself up afresh for prayer. With ואני he contrasts himself with the dead who are separated from God's manifestation of love. Being still in life, although under wrath that apparently has no end, he strains every nerve to struggle through in prayer until he shall reach God's love. His complaints are petitions, for they are complaints that are poured forth before God. The destiny under which for a long time he has been more like one dying than living, reaches back even into his youth. מנּער (since נער is everywhere undeclined) is equivalent to מנּערי. The ἐξηπορήθην of the lxx is the right indicator for the understanding of the ἅπαξ λ.ε.γ. אפוּנה. Aben-Ezra and Kimchi derive it from פּן, like עלה from על,

(Note: The derivation is not contrary to the genius of the language; the supplementing productive force of the language displayed in the liturgical poetry of the synagogue, also changes particles into verbs: vid., Zunz, Die synagogaie Poesie des Mittelalters, S. 421.)

and assign to it the signification of dubitare. But it may be more safely explained after the Arabic words Arab. afana, afina, ma'fûn (root 'f, to urge forwards, push), in which the fundamental notion of driving back, narrowing and exhausting, is transferred to a weakening or weakness of the intellect. We might also compare פּנה, Arab. faniya, "to disappear, vanish, pass away;" but the ἐξηπορήθην of the lxx favours the kinship with that Arab. afina, infirma mente et consilii inops fuit,

(Note: Abulwald also explains אפוּנה after the Arabic, but in a way that cannot be accepted, viz., "for a long time onwards," from the Arabic iffân (ibbân, iff, afaf, ifâf, taiffah), time, period - time conceived of in the onward rush, the constant succession of its moments.)

which has been already compared by Castell. The aorist of the lxx, however, is just as erroneous in this instance as in Psalm 42:5; Psalm 55:3; Psalm 57:5. In all these instances the cohortative denotes the inward result following from an outward compulsion, as they say in Hebrew: I lay hold of trembling (Isaiah 13:8; Job 18:20; Job 21:6) or joy (Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 51:11), when the force of circumstances drive one into such states of mind. Labouring under the burden of divine dispensations of a terrifying character, he finds himself in a state of mental weakness and exhaustion, or of insensible (senseless) fright; over him as their destined goal before many others go God's burnings of wrath (plur. only in this instance), His terrible decrees (vid., concerning בעת on Psalm 18:5) have almost annihilated him. צמּתתוּני is not an impossible form (Olshausen, 251, a), but an intensive form of צמּתוּ, the last part of the already inflected verb being repeated, as in עהבוּ הבוּ, Hosea 4:18 (cf. in the department of the noun, פּיפיּות, edge-edges equals many edges, Psalm 149:6), perhaps under the influence of the derivative.

(Note: Heidenheim interprets: Thy terrors are become to me as צמתת (Leviticus 25:23), i.e., inalienably my own.)

The corrections צמתּתני (from צמתת) or צמּתתני (from צמּת) are simple enough; but it is more prudent to let tradition judge of that which is possible in the usage of the language. In Psalm 88:18 the burnings become floods; the wrath of God can be compared to every destroying and overthrowing element. The billows threaten to swallow him up, without any helping hand being stretched out to him on the part of any of his lovers and friends. In v. 19a to be now explained according to Job 16:14, viz., My familiar friends are gloomy darkness; i.e., instead of those who were hitherto my familiars (Job 19:14), darkness is become my familiar friend? One would have thought that it ought then to have been מידּעי (Schnurrer), or, according to Proverbs 7:4, מודעי, and that, in connection with this sense of the noun, מחשׁך ought as subject to have the precedence, that consequently מידּעי is subject and מחשׁך predicate: my familiar friends have lost themselves in darkness, are become absolutely invisible (Hitzig at last). But the regular position of the words is kept to if it is interpreted: my familiar friends are reduced to gloomy darkness as my familiar friend, and the plural is justified by Job 19:14 : Mother and sister (do I call) the worm. With this complaint the harp falls from the poet's hands. He is silent, and waits on God, that He may solve this riddle of affliction. From the Book of Job we might infer that He also actually appeared to him. He is more faithful than men. No soul that in the midst of wrath lays hold upon His love, whether with a firm or with a trembling hand, is suffered to be lost.

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