Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. (Psalm 88.7)
Psalm 88 is a lament Psalm. The writer is overwhelmed with grief and trouble. He feels as if he is on the threshold of death (v.3).
Worse yet, he sees that God is the one who is behind it. In verse 6 “You have put me in the depths of the pit”, verse 7 “Your wrath lies heavy upon me…”, verse 8 “You have caused my companions to shun me, you have made me a horror to them.”
The writer recognizes God’s involvement, even amid his suffocating circumstances.
One cannot read these words without thinking of our Lord Jesus. It was upon the cross that he was rejected, shunned, filled with sorrow, overwhelmed, and heavily laid upon by divine wrath.
In fact, that is a perfect picture of what is happening at the cross. There is the human reality of rejection. The Psalmist, as well as Jesus, felt it, they knew it well. However, Jesus felt and knew the overwhelming waves of wrath in a different way. He new them redemptively.
God’s wrath lied heavily upon Jesus on the cross. Just as the Levites would press firmly upon the heads of the goat on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16), confessing the sin of the people and charging it to the sacrifice, so to on the cross the hands of God, as it were, were laid heavy upon him as our sin was charged to him and divine wrath was laid upon him. Never was there such a Tsunami of wrath as this day when Christ was baptized into the divine displeasure over sin.
But Christ stood. He suffered, died and was buried. He drank the cup. While the overwhelming waves of wrath and the swift undercurrent of judgment would topple us, Jesus stood. He bore all of the wrath, all of the shame, all of the guilt. He is the substitute for sinners like you and me.
Father, I cannot understand the depths of this wrath, love and mercy that is compressed into the thimble that is this Psalm. It is filled with so much of the story of who you are and who I am. Therefore, make me to learn and understand better as to the value of Christ’s cross. Make me to sit and study it, that I might be overwhelmed by it and live in light of it. Because of Christ, forgive my sin; my selfishness, my pride, and my short-term memory that forgets the cross. And make me smile in light of its abiding shadow of your faithfulness and pleasure. Amen.