The Psalms Book 1: 38-39

Psalm 38‑39  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Psa. 38-39
These two psalms constitute a pair, distinct from and rightly following those that precede, and as duly followed by Psa. 40; 41 They do not express the path of the just sustained by trusting in Jehovah, and tried in the face of confident prosperous enemies, with the land in full view spite of all. Here it is the far deeper distress under Jehovah's anger because of sins. Nevertheless God is unhesitatingly looked to in the sense of His arrows and utter corruption in themselves. This is carried out yet more in the companion psalm, where it is rather the sense of self, and man at large, being mere breath or vanity, and all under God's consuming hand; but the hope is in the Lord, as before in Jehovah.
Psa. 38
“ A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance. O Jehovah, rebuke me not in Thine anger, nor chasten me in Thy hot displeasure. For Thine arrows have entered into me, and Thy hand hath come down upon me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Thine anger; there is no peace in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities have passed over my head; as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds have stunk, they have dissolved, because of my folly. I have been bowed down, I have been brought low to the utmost, all the day have I walked mourning. For my loins are filled with burning, and there is no goodness in my flesh. I have been feeble and broken to the utmost, I have groaned because of the groanings of my heart. O Lord, before Thee [is] all my desire, and my sighing is not hid from Thee. My heart hath panted and my strength hath left me, and the light of mine eyes—even they are not with me. My lovers and my neighbors stand aloof from my stroke, and my kinsman have stood afar off. And those that seek after my soul have laid snares, and those that seeking hurt have spoken mischievous things, and all the day do they meditate deceits. But I as a deaf [man] hear not, and I am as a dumb [man that] openeth not his mouth. And I am as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. For in Thee, O Jehovah, do I hope: Thou wilt answer, O Lord My God. For I said, Lest they rejoice over me! at the moving of my foot they magnified themselves against me. For I am ready to halt, and my pain [is] continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity, I am afflicted because of my sin. But mine enemies of life [i.e., deadly ones] are strong, and those that hate me falsely [i.e., without a cause] are multiplied. And those that render evil for good will oppose me because of my pursuing good. Forsake me not, O Jehovah; O my God, be not far from me. Make, haste to my help, O Lord my salvation” (ver. 1-23).
Though there is no right ground for ancients or moderns applying this psalm to Christ, yet His Spirit breathes unequivocally through it as through all. Indeed without questioning the peculiar comfort it will prove to the godly Jew when awakened in the latter day to feel its value, it is most suitable to the Christian suffering under the chastening hand of the Lord for folly and sin. Then is the time to cherish confidence in Him, as the Christian may do even more deeply and dropping all thought of enemies save of a spiritual kind. We can cry even then, Abba, Father.
Psa. 39
“ To the chief musician, to Jeduthun; a psalm of David. I said, I will keep my ways, from sinning with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle for my mouth, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb in silence, I held my peace from good, and my sorrow was stirred. My heart glowed in my midst; in my meditation the fire burned: I spoke with my tongue, Make me know, O Jehovah, mine end, and the measure of my days, what it [is]; let me know when I shall cease. Behold, spans hast thou given my days, and my age as nothing before Thee. Surely all a breath [is] every man standing firm. Selah. Surely in an image doth a man walk; surely a breath are they disquieted; he will heap up and not know who shall gather them. And now what wait I for, O Lord? My hope [is] in Thee. From all my transgressions deliver me; a reproach of the fool do not set me. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; for Thou hast done [it]. Remove from me Thy stroke: from the conflict of Thy hand I am consumed. With chastisement for iniquity Thou correctest man, and consumest like the moth his vanity [or, delights]; surely a breath [is] every man. Selah. Hear my prayer, O Jehovah, and to my cry give ear; at my tears be not silent: for a stranger [am] I with Thee, a sojourner, like all my fathers. Look from me, and let me brighten up, before I go and am no more” (vers. 1-13).
As the saint felt nothing before God, and therefore checked himself in presence of the wicked, so much the more could he speak, when the fire burned, in turning to Jehovah Who was using His stroke for correction, and this of iniquity. He owned himself a stranger and sojourner like saints of old, his fathers. To be strong and great here below was not his desire, but in his weakness he would be dependent on Jehovah. This closes the exercises of heart expressed to God by the tried godly. A vast change appears when Christ is introduced personally, as we shall see in the psalms that follow.