This is the last Psalm attributed to the sons of Korah. This psalm is a song, as indicated by the inscription, albeit the saddest songs of all of Psalms. There are various interpretation of what [mahalath leannoth] means, I like the Wiersbe’s interpretation: mahalath means “sickness”, leannoth means for humbling. Mahalath may refer to the melody of the song, which would probably be in minor key. The second may refer to the purpose, which is to bring us low before God. Sad psalms are not rare, but almost all of them end in a positively. But this psalm ended in darkness. The last word of the psalm in hebrew is [hoshek], which means darkness.
Regarding the author, Heman. There two Heman in the bible. First, Heman is the son of Joel, was a temple musician during the reign of David (1 Chron 6:33). The second Heman was one of the wise men in Solomon time (1 Kings 4:31). This Heman is one of the five sons of Zerah (1 Chron 2:6), from the tribe of Judah, as the inscription has suggested, an Ezrahite.
The word Maskil (Maschil) appeared multiple times in previous Psalms. It means this is an instructive Psalm. The sorrows of one saints are the lessons to others.
This is a messianic psalm. Read this psalm and meditate on our Lord Jesus’s suffering on His walk to calvary will greatly help us to appreciate what the Lord has done for us.
Some questions to meditate when reading this psalm are:
1) Would a loving God purposely plan suffering on His children?
2)Are all suffering caused by God?
3)If God cause men to suffer, what was His purpose?
v1: The Lord is my salvation! This is the only positive verse in the whole song. Although the psalmist was in the lowest point of his life, and felt that God has abondant him. But he knows that God is still his salvation. He didn’t deny the existence of God, and didn’t reject God in this psalm. In fact, this psalm is the records of his prayers to God (v1,2,13). Heman cried out to God day and night. Sadly, for most of us, the only time we cried out to God day and night is when we are in distressed situation.
v2: When we are in our deepest sorrow, a lot of times we do not want to talk to anyone but God. Because no one else would understand but God.
v3: The soul of a person is the person’s thought, mind, feeling. Heman’s soul has so many troubles that he felt like he was very close to Sheol, which was a place where dead people would go.
v4: The psalmist continued to sing how low his soul was. He used another word to describe Sheol: the pit. The felt like dead man who has no strength.
v5: Grave is the physical place of a dead man resting place. Heman felts like his soul was in Sheol and his body was in a grave, being forsaken and forgotten by God.
v6: More description of Sheol. The lowest pit, dark places, the depths. The body can only bear a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.
v7: Heman attributed his suffering to God. The wrath of God is the worst a man can be found. God’s wrath crush our soul beyond conception, it is the hell of hell.
v8: Heman because an outcast for his friends. He could no longer have fellowship with them. He attributed this to God. Would God purposely let us suffer? Yes He would, sometimes because of our sins, He needed to discipline us. […..knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope (Rom 5:3-4)
v9: Heman knows his suffering was from God, so he called upon God daily to rescue him.
v10-12: These are rhetorical questions. Heman wants to express that the dead cannot testify to God’s goodness.
On the other hand, God’s glory was fully reveal on the death and resurrection of Jesus.
v13: Heman was praying fervently to God to deliver him from his current condition.
v14: [Why do you hide your face from me]. Heman has been praying but God didn’t answer. He couldn’t see the face of God.
“Every stroke of God rod there is a sufficient reason in the judgement of His loving heart, let us try to learn that reason and profit by it. ” (Spurgeon)
v15: Heman’s suffering started during his youth.
Jesus was preparing for His suffering on Calvary, even when he was young.
v16: Heman felt he was totally destroyed by God’s terrors.
v17: Surrounded me like water?
v18: Sometimes when a father need to discipline one of his trouble children, he would ask the rest of the family to distance from the child, to isolate him, to make him ashamed of his sins. Paul said similar thing in 1 Corinthians 5:5: [I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.]