Heman’s Cry of Darkness – Gospel in Life

Heman’s Cry of Darkness

Tim Keller |  November 4, 2007

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  • God the Father
  • Prayer & Meditation
Psalm 88:1-2, 6-18
RS 198-6


We are looking at a series of case studies on prayer and spiritual encounters in the Bible. This message is from the Psalms, which is the prayer book of the Bible. In the Psalms, there are many prayers by people who are suffering and who are asking God for help, asking God for rescue, for relief.

This is a psalm that ends without hope, and has “darkness” as its last word. What is a prayer like this doing in the Bible? There are four messages this psalm teaches us: 1) Spiritual and personal darkness can last a long time no matter what you do; 2) Times of darkness are often the best places to learn about God’s grace; 3) Times of darkness can sometimes be the very best situation for you to grow into someone of greatness; and 4) Darkness can be relativized.

Psalm 88:1–2, 6–18

In today’s world, people love talking about spirituality, but they often miss out on what the Bible teaches about prayer and encounters with God. If we look closely at the Psalms, especially Psalm 39, we see a different view of suffering, where hope seems missing and darkness takes over. But this Psalm gives us four important lessons: how to handle darkness, understanding God’s love in hard times, becoming better during challenges, and keeping the right perspective.

1. Both spiritual and personal darkness can last a very long time

When we talk about darkness, both outside and inside us, it has deep meanings for our faith. Psalm 88 shows us this through the writer’s experience of long-lasting darkness, even while living a good life. This represents the problems and spiritual battles we face in life. It challenges the idea that everything will always be okay, highlighting the need to be ready for hard times and to understand that darkness can continue for a while.

2. Darkness can show you God’s grace

Difficult times can help us understand God’s love more deeply. The writer’s honest feelings and complaints to God aren’t disrespectful; instead, they show God’s understanding and love. God stays with us, not because we’re perfect but because of His love, which we can experience strongly during our toughest times.

3. Darkness can turn you into someone great

In times of spiritual darkness, it might feel like our faith and prayers are pointless. But sticking with our faith, even when it feels unrewarded, not only disproves the devil’s claims that our faith is selfish but also makes our faith stronger. Choosing to serve God, even in the dark times, can change our hearts in a powerful way, like how pressure turns coal into a diamond.

4. Darkness can be relativized

When we go through hard times, we might feel like God has left us or is angry with us. But this is just a feeling, as shown by the experiences of Heman and Jesus Christ, who both went through deep darkness but still made a huge impact. Even when we feel lost in the dark, God is still our friend, and the promise of new life brings hope and light.




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