Psalm 88:18
Lover and friend have you put far from me, and my acquaintance into darkness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) And mine acquaintance into darkness.—This is an erroneous rendering. Rather, My acquaintance is darkness, or, darkness is my friend, having taken the place of those removed. The feeling resembles Job 17:14; or we may illustrate by Tennyson’s lines:—

“O sorrow, wilt thou live with me,

No casual mistress, but a wife,

My bosom friend, and half my life?

As I confess it needs must be.”

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.Lover and friend hast thou put far from me - That is, Thou hast so afflicted me that they have forsaken me. Those who professed to love me, and whom I loved - those whom I regarded as my friends, and who seemed to be my friends - are now wholly turned away from me, and I am left to suffer alone. See the notes at Psalm 88:8.

And mine acquaintance into darkness - The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate render this, "my acquaintance from my misery." Luther, "Thou hast caused my friends and neighbors, and my kindred, to separate themselves far from me, on account of such misery." The literal rendering would be, my acquaintances are darkness. This may mean either that they had so turned away that he could not see them, as if they were in the dark; or, that his familiars now - his companions - were dark and dismal objects - gloomy thoughts - sad forebodings. Perhaps the whole might be translated, "Far away from me hast thou put lover and friend - my acquaintances! All is darkness!" That is, When I think of any of them, all is darkness, sadness. My friends are not to be seen. They have vanished. I see no friends; I see only darkness and gloom. All have gone, leaving me alone in this condition of unpitied sorrow! This completes the picture of the suffering man; a man to whom all was dark, and who could find no consolation anywhere - in God; in his friends; in the grave; in the prospect of the future. There are such cases; and it was well that there was one such description in the sacred Scriptures of a good man thus suffering - to show us that when we thus feel, it should not be regarded as proof that we have no piety. Beneath all this, there may be true love to God; beyond all this, there may be a bright world to which the sufferer will come, and where he will forever dwell.

18. into darkness—Better omit "into"—"mine acquaintances (are) darkness," the gloom of death, &c. (Job 17:13, 14). See Poole "Psalm 88:8". Lover and friend hast thou put far from me,.... This is mentioned in Psalm 88:8, and is here repeated; and the account is closed with it, to show that this was a most aggravating circumstance of his affliction, and which bore exceeding hard upon him; and this must be a very uncomfortable case, to be in distress, whether of body or mind, and to have no kind friend near to yield the least help, relief, and comfort; so Christ's lovers and friends, his disciples, who loved him and he loved them, and reckoned them as his friends, and was a friend to them, when he was taken by his enemies, they all forsook him, and fled, Matthew 26:56,

and mine acquaintance into darkness; either by death into the dark grave, which Job calls the land of darkness and shadow of death, Job 10:21, or being removed from him, so that he could not see them, it was all one to him as if they had been put into darkness, into some dark dungeon, or into the grave itself: or the words may be rendered, mine acquaintance are darkness (i): this was the case of Christ, when on the cross; he had none near him, no acquaintance about him, but darkness; and darkness was over all the land for the space of three hours; and a darkness was on his soul, being forsaken by his Father; and the prince of darkness, with all the fiends of hell, were throwing their fiery darts at him, Matthew 27:45. Thus ends this sorrowful and mournful song; a joyful one follows.

(i) "noti mei sunt tenebrae", Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis; "amici mei sunt caligo", Gejerus.

Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. Cp. Psalm 88:8; Psalm 38:11; Job 19:13.

and mine acquaintance into darkness] A difficult phrase. Another possible rendering is, my familiar friends are darkness: darkness takes the place of friends: cp. Job 17:14.

We take leave of this sad singer with his riddle unsolved, with no ray of light piercing the gloom; yet believing in the fact of God’s love though he can only see the signs of His wrath, appealing, like Job, to God, though God seems utterly hostile to him; assured that if he has any hope at all, it is in God alone. His faith has met its reward.Verse 18. - Lover and friend hast thou put far from me (comp. ver. 8 and Job 19:13). And mine acquaintance into darkness; literally, and my intimates [are] darkness; i.e. "when I look for a friend or an acquaintance, my eye meets nothing but darkness," or "dark space."



The octastichs are now followed by hexastichs which belong together in pairs. The complaint concerning the alienation of his nearest relations sounds like Job 19:13., but the same strain is also frequently heard in the earlier Psalms written in times of suffering, e.g., Psalm 31:9. He is forsaken by all his familiar friends (not: acquaintances, for מידּע signifies more than that), he is alone in the dungeon of wretchedness, where no one comes near him, and whence he cannot make his escape. This sounds, according to Leviticus 13, very much like the complaint of a leper. The Book of Leviticus there passes over from the uncleanness attending the beginning of human life to the uncleanness of the most terrible disease. Disease is the middle stage between birth and death, and, according to the Eastern notion, leprosy is the worst of all diseases, it is death itself clinging to the still living man (Numbers 12:12), and more than all other evils a stroke of the chastening hand of God (נגע), a scourge of God (צרעת). The man suspected of having leprosy was to be subjected to a seven days' quarantine until the determination of the priest's diagnosis; and if the leprosy was confirmed, he was to dwell apart outside the camp (Leviticus 13:46), where, though not imprisoned, he was nevertheless separated from his dwelling and his family (cf. Job, at Job 19:19), and if a man of position, would feel himself condemned to a state of involuntary retirement. It is natural to refer the כּלא, which is closely connected with שׁתּני, to this separation. עיני, Psalm 88:10, instead of עיני, as in Psalm 6:8; Psalm 31:10 : his eye has languished, vanished away (דּאב of the same root as tābescere, cognate with the root of דּונג, Psalm 68:3), in consequence of (his) affliction. He calls and calls upon Jahve, stretches out (שׁטּח, expandere, according to the Arabic, more especially after the manner of a roof) his hands (palmas) towards Him, in order to shield himself from His wrath and to lead Him compassionately to give ear to him. In Psalm 88:11-13 he bases his cry for help upon a twofold wish, viz., to become an object of the miraculous help of God, and to be able to praise Him for it. Neither of these wishes would be realized if he were to die; for that which lies beyond this life is uniform darkness, devoid of any progressive history. With מתים alternates רפאים (sing. רפא), the relaxed ones, i.e., shades (σκιαὶ) of the nether world. With reference to יודוּ instead of להודות, vid., Ewald, 337, b. Beside חשׁך (Job 10:21.) stands ארץ נשׁיּה, the land of forgetfulness (λήθη), where there is an end of all thinking, feeling, and acting (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Ecclesiastes 9:10), and where the monotony of death, devoid of thought and recollection, reigns. Such is the representation given in the Old Testament of the state beyond the present, even in Ecclesiastes, and in the Apocrypha (Sir. 17:27f. after Isaiah 38:18.; Baruch 2:17f.); and it was obliged to be thus represented, for in the New Testament not merely the conception of the state after death, but this state itself, is become a different one.
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