Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 88:10

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Wilt thou show wonders to the dead! - מתים methim, dead men.

Shall the dead - רפאים rephaim, "the manes or departed spirits."

Arise and praise thee? - Any more in this life? The interrogations in this and the two following verses imply the strongest negations.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? - The wonders - or the things suited to excite admiration - which the living behold. Shall the dead see those things which here tend to excite reverence for thee, and which lead people to worship thee? The idea is that the dead will be cut off from all the privileges which attend the living on earth; or, that those in the grave cannot contemplate the character and the greatness of God. He urges this as a reason why he should be rescued. The sentiment here is substantially the same as in Psalm 6:5. See the notes at that passage. Compare Isaiah 38:18.

Shall the dead arise and praise thee? - The original word, here rendered “the dead,” is Rephaim - רפאים rephâ'iym On its meaning, see the notes at Isaiah 14:9. It means, properly, relaxed, languid, feeble, weak; and is then applied to the dead - the shades - the Manes - dwelling in the under-world in Sheol, or Hades, and supposed to be as shades or shadows, weak and feeble. The question here is not whether they would rise to live again, or appear in this world, but whether in Sheol they would rise up from their resting places, and praise God as men in vigor and in health can on the earth. The question has no reference to the future resurrection. It relates to the supposed dark, dismal, gloomy, inactive state of the dead.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Departed souls may declare God's faithfulness, justice, and lovingkindness; but deceased bodies can neither receive God's favours in comfort, nor return them in praise. The psalmist resolved to continue in prayer, and the more so, because deliverance did not come speedily. Though our prayers are not soon answered, yet we must not give over praying. The greater our troubles, the more earnest and serious we should be in prayer. Nothing grieves a child of God so much as losing sight of him; nor is there any thing he so much dreads as God's casting off his soul. If the sun be clouded, that darkens the earth; but if the sun should leave the earth, what a dungeon would it be! Even those designed for God's favours, may for a time suffer his terrors. See how deep those terrors wounded the psalmist. If friends are put far from us by providences, or death, we have reason to look upon it as affliction. Such was the calamitous state of a good man. But the pleas here used were peculiarly suited to Christ. And we are not to think that the holy Jesus suffered for us only at Gethsemane and on Calvary. His whole life was labour and sorrow; he was afflicted as never man was, from his youth up. He was prepared for that death of which he tasted through life. No man could share in the sufferings by which other men were to be redeemed. All forsook him, and fled. Oftentimes, blessed Jesus, do we forsake thee; but do not forsake us, O take not thy Holy Spirit from us.