‘O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You! Let my prayer come to You!… For my…life draws nigh to the grave. I am counted with them that go down to the pit. I am…free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave…. Shall the dead arise and praise You?… But to You I have cried out, O Lord!’ Psalm 88:1-13.
Calvin comments: “The Spirit of God by the mouth of Heman has here furnished us…with a form of prayer…not (to) faint under any adversities, however severe, which might befall…. He (Heman) continued crying out, ‘days and nights’…. He (God) particularly affirms that his life was not far from the grave…. He (Heman) complains that he was, as it were, dead. Although he breathed still among the living, yet the many deaths with which he was threatened on all sides — were to him so many graves by which he expected to be swallowed up in a moment….
“The Prophet intended to express something more distressing and grievous than common death…. He says that ‘he was free among the dead’ — because he was…as it were cut off from the world…. Augustine (says) that Christ is here described, and that He is said to be free among the dead because He obtained the victory over death…so that it might not have dominion over Him….
“He (Heman) bewails his condition as worse than if…he were going down to death by little and little. For we are naturally inspired with horror at the prospect of a violent death…. It is certain that the dead are no less under the divine protection than the living. Even wicked Balaam…was nevertheless constrained to cry out — ‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!’ (Numbers 23:10). To say then that God is no longer mindful of man after he is dead, might
seem to be the language of a Heathen….
“Faith in the truth that God extends His care both to the living and the dead, is deeply rooted in the hearts of all His genuine servants…. The Prophet, then, was persuaded that the dead too are under the divine protection…. ‘Will You perform a miracle for the dead?’… If God did not make haste to succour him, it would be too late — there being scarcely anything betwixt him and death…. He asks how long God meant to delay — if He meant to do so till death intervened, so that He might raise the dead by a miracle?…
“When the Psalmist asks: ‘Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?’ — he does not mean that the dead are devoid of consciousness…. Succour men while they are still crying out in the midst of danger, than…raise them up from their graves when they are dead!…. It is not God’s usual way to bring the dead out of their graves to be witnesses and publishers of His goodness. When the Prophet affirms that the divine faithfulness…and righteousness ‘are not known in the land of forgetfulness’ — some deluded persons foolishly wrest the statement to support a gross error, as if it taught that men were annihilated by death…. God…had designed this world to be…a stage on which to display his goodness towards mankind!”
Let us then now seek the Lord! You too! Before life is drawing nigh unto the grave!