Psalms 38

Prayer of a Suffering Sinner

1

A Davidic psalm for remembrance.

1 Lord, do not punish me in Your anger or discipline me in Your wrath.[a]
2 For Your arrows have sunk into me, and Your hand has pressed down on me.
3 There is no soundness in my body because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
4 For my sins have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.
5 My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.
6 I am bent over and brought low; all day long I go around in mourning.
7 For my loins are full of burning pain, and there is no health in my body.
8 I am faint and severely crushed; I groan because of the anguish of my heart.
9 Lord, my every desire is known to[b] You; my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart races, my strength leaves me, and even the light of my eyes has faded.[c]
11 My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction, and my relatives stand at a distance.
12 Those who seek my life set traps, and those who want to harm me threaten to destroy me; they plot treachery all day long.
13 I am like a deaf person; I do not hear. I am like a speechless person who does not open his mouth.
14 I am like a man who does not hear and has no arguments in his mouth.
15 I put my hope in You, Lord; You will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, "Don't let them rejoice over me- those who are arrogant toward me when I stumble."
17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is constantly with me.
18 So I confess my guilt; I am anxious because of my sin.
19 But my enemies are vigorous and powerful;[d] many hate me for no reason.
20 Those who repay evil for good attack me for pursuing good.
21 Lord, do not abandon me; my God, do not be far from me.
22 Hurry to help me, Lord, my Savior.

Psalms 38 Commentary

Chapter 38

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.

Footnotes 4

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 38

\\<>\\. This psalm was composed by David under some sore affliction, and when in great distress of mind by reason of sin, perhaps his sin with Bathsheba; and was written as a memorial of his sense of sin, of his great afflictions, and deliverance from them; and therefore is said to be "to bring to remembrance", or to refresh his memory with the said things. Kimchi and Ben Melech think the psalm was made for the sake of such as are in distress, to put them in mind and teach them how to pray. The Targum calls the psalm, ``a good remembrance concerning Israel;'' and Jarchi says it was to remember the distress of Israel before the Lord, and that it is said with respect to all Israel; though others think the word "lehazcir" is the name of a psalm tune; and Aben Ezra was of opinion that it was the first word of some pleasant poem. The Septuagint version adds, ``concerning the sabbath,'' as if it was wrote to put persons in mind of that day; whereas there is nothing in the whole psalm that has any such tendency.

Psalms 38 Commentaries