Friday, August 18, 2017

“Hello Darkness, My Old Friend”

"Darkness has become my only friend" Psalm 88:18.

This is the saddest song in the psalter, a mournful tune with no resolution. No praise, no thanksgiving, no celebration, no eulogy. We look for a glimmer of light but find none. The poet’s soul was “full of trouble"; his dark mood all engulfing. Unlike other psalms, there is no happy ending. The poem ends with a plaintive sigh: “Darkness has become my only friend.” (88:18). And “with this complaint, the harp falls from the poet's hands” (Keil & Delitzsch).

God has never promised that our days will be filled with unbroken sunshine and our skies will always be blue. Indeed, unrelieved suffering may be our lot in this world. 

But like Israel's poet, we can reach out for God in the darkness (88:13), in which case the darkness will have pushed us a little closer to Him. And if the goal of life is not ease but intimacy with God then the darkness has indeed become our “friend.”

And though the psalm is silent about life-beyond-this-life it is a reminder that something better awaits us: “We wait for… the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22f.).

David Roper


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