God's displeasure at sin. (1-11) The psalmist's sufferings and prayers. (12-22)
Verses 1-11 Nothing will disquiet the heart of a good man so much as the sense of God's anger. The way to keep the heart quiet, is to keep ourselves in the love of God. But a sense of guilt is too heavy to bear; and would sink men into despair and ruin, unless removed by the pardoning mercy of God. If there were not sin in our souls, there would be no pain in our bones, no illness in our bodies. The guilt of sin is a burden to the whole creation, which groans under it. It will be a burden to the sinners themselves, when they are heavy-laden under it, or a burden of ruin, when it sinks them to hell. When we perceive our true condition, the Good Physician will be valued, sought, and obeyed. Yet many let their wounds rankle, because they delay to go to their merciful Friend. When, at any time, we are distempered in our bodies, we ought to remember how God has been dishonoured in and by our bodies. The groanings which cannot be uttered, are not hid from Him that searches the heart, and knows the mind of the Spirit. David, in his troubles, was a type of Christ in his agonies, of Christ on his cross, suffering and deserted.
Verses 12-22 Wicked men hate goodness, even when they benefit by it. David, in the complaints he makes of his enemies, seems to refer to Christ. But our enemies do us real mischief only when they drive us from God and our duty. The true believer's trouble will be made useful; he will learn to wait for his God, and will not seek relief from the world or himself. The less we notice the unkindness and injuries that are done us, the more we consult the quiet of our own minds. David's troubles were the chastisement and the consequence of his transgressions, whilst Christ suffered for our sins and ours only. What right can a sinner have to yield to impatience or anger, when mercifully corrected for his sins? David was very sensible of the present workings of corruption in him. Good men, by setting their sorrow continually before them, have been ready to fall; but by setting God always before them, they have kept their standing. If we are truly penitent for sin, that will make us patient under affliction. Nothing goes nearer to the heart of a believer when in affliction, than to be under the apprehension of God's deserting him; nor does any thing come more feelingly from his heart than this prayer, "Be not far from me." The Lord will hasten to help those who trust in him as their salvation.
Psalms 38:1-22 . To bring to remembrance, or, remind God of His mercy and himself of his sin. Appealing to God for relief from His heavy chastisement, the Psalmist avows his integrity before men, complains of the defection of friends and persecution of enemies, and in a submissive spirit, casting himself on God, with penitent confession he pleads God's covenant relation and his innocence of the charges of his enemies, and prays for divine comfort and help.
1-4. He deprecates deserved punishment, which is described ( Psalms 6:1 ), under the figure of bodily disease ( Psalms 38:3 ).
2. arrows . . . and thy hand--the sharp and heavy afflictions he suffered ( Deuteronomy 32:23 ).
4. iniquities--afflictions in punishment of sin ( 2 Samuel 16:12 , Psalms 31:10 , 40:12 ).
gone over mine head--as a flood.
5-8. The loathsomeness, corruption, and wasting torture of severe physical disease set forth his mental anguish ( Psalms 38:6 ). It is possible some bodily disease was connected. The
loins are the seat of strength. His exhaustion left him only the power to groan [ Psalms 38:9 ].
9. That God can hear ( Romans 8:26 ).
10. My heart panteth--as if barely surviving.
light . . . from me--utter exhaustion ( Psalms 6:7 , 13:3 ).
11, 12. Friends desert, but foes increase in malignity.
12. seek after my life--( 1 Samuel 20:1 , 22:23 ).
13, 14. He patiently submits, uttering no reproaches or replies ( John 19:9 ) to their insulting speeches;
15-17. for he is confident the
Lord--literally, "Sovereign" (to whom he was a servant), would answer his prayer ( Psalms 3:4 , 4:1 ), and not permit their triumph in his partial halting, of which he was in danger.
18. Consciousness of sin makes suffering pungent, and suffering, rightly received, leads to confession.
19, 20. Still, while humbled before God, he is the victim of deadly enemies, full of malice and treachery.
enemies are lively--literally, "of life," who would take my life, that is, deadly.
21, 22. (Compare Psalms 22:19 , 35:3 ). All terms of frequent use. In this Psalm the language is generally susceptible of application to Christ as a sufferer, David, as such, typifying Him. This does not require us to apply the confessions of sin, but only the pains or penalties which He bore for us.