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



Psalm 88:18He 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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