Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mahalath Leannoth

Psa 88:1 A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite. O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
Psa 88:2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
Psa 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave

The 88th Psalm is born out of sickness. Mahalath Leannoth means put down or depressed by sickness.

I am a real baby when it comes to suffering. My pain tolerance level is not very high. I suppose that is because I have been blessed with good health. I don't get sick very often, very few headaches, one or two colds a year, a sour stomach because of some bad food here and there, and that's about it.

But when the dreaded stomach flu comes along, the kind where you would have to get better to die, then this Psalm makes perfect sense.

It is said by some that Jesus may have sang this song while in holding in the dungeon under the house of Caiaphas on the night before His crucifixion. That would make sense if you take the Psalm as a whole, culminating with the words, "Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness."

By far, the vast majority of the Psalms end positively. Some start on a depressive, anxious or discouraged note and encouragement eventually comes by the end of the chapter. Not this one.

An individual is left with a sense of dread despair. Having contemplated the Mahalath Leannoth of Ps 88 for a bit, it is best to go on to the resounding positivity of 89:1 "I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations."

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