Because of the way the five Psalms a day reading plan is structured, I always read Psalm 88 and Psalm 118 back to back. But I was today years old before I was struck by the contrasts between them. God, in His great love for us, has given us a Psalter that has room for both the despair of 88 and the triumphant praise of 118. There is room for a cry that goes unheard and an answer that sets free. Room for darkness without light and the light of the Lord that shines upon us. Room for the crisis of feeling abandoned and the confidence of the Lord at our side.
- In 88, God’s wrath lies heavy upon the Psalmist, and he is overwhelmed (88:7). In 118, God disciplines the Psalmist, but does not give him over to death (118:18).
- In 88, the Psalmist is shut in so he can’t escape (88:8), In 118, God answers him and sets him free (118:5).
- In 88, he is like those who are cut off from God’s hand (88:5). In 118, he cuts off his enemies in the name of the Lord (118:10-12).
- In 88, the Psalmist wonders if God’s steadfast love is declared in the grave (88:13). In 118, all Israel declares His steadfast love, together with the house of Aaron and all the nations (118:2-4).
- In 88, my soul draws near to Sheol. (88:3). In 118 the gates of righteousness are opened to me, and I enter through them (118:19).
Oh, my God! Your heart is large enough to receive my small complaints! Your hand is strong enough to hold my weak faith! Your ears are tender enough to hear me when I think you aren’t listening. Your eyes are sharp enough to see through my deepest darkness.
And your Word is big enough to record every complaint, every confession, every hope, every hurt, every confusion, every confidence, every trial, every triumph, every height and every depth and everything else in all creation.
“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.” Psalm 118:28 ESV
I read five Psalms first thing every morning. That way, I can read through the entire book of Psalms every month. Each day, I try to pray through one of my daily Psalms, using a method Donald Whitney teaches in his book, Praying the Bible