This Sunday I’m preaching from Psalm 88. Eugene Peterson’s The Message paraphrase of that chapter inspired me to take a deeper look and draw out some of the obscurities of this ancient Hebrew song. Here is my best Petersonian effort at my own paraphrase.
O Yahweh, you are my savior;
All day and night I’m praying to you.
Please listen to me;
Don’t plug your ears!
My life is a wreck,
And I’m standing in my grave.
I might as well be in hell;
I am weak and helpless,
like one freed to play on a dead-man’s playground,
like a rotting corpse in a trash pile,
like those you’ve forgotten,
because you’ve cut them off like an orphaned child.
You’ve put me in a dungeon,
in a black hole with no exit.
And it’s because you’re angry with me,
You’re waterboarding me and I can’t breathe.
You’ve made my friends leave me;
I make them want to vomit.
I’m like a prisoner in my own body;
I’m blinded by my tears.
I’m not giving up praying, O Yahweh;
My hands are pleading with you to answer.
Do dead people marvel at your miracles?
Do dead people sing your praises?
Is the sound of your never-ending love heard 6-feet under,
or your faithfulness in the land of doom?
Can people see your works when it’s dark,
or your perfections in the land of no memory?
But I’m not giving up praying, O Yahweh,
Every morning I’m confronting you.
Yahweh—why are you pushing me away?
Why are you hiding from me? Is this a game to you?
My life has been a wreck since I was a kid;
I’m suffering from your beatings; I can’t stop them.
Your hot anger rips me to shreds like a tornado;
You’re bomb blitzes are destroying me.
They are drowning me in a raging river all day long;
I can’t look anywhere without seeing them.
And on top of all this you’ve made my lover and my friends run away from me;
Darkness is now my only friend.