Psalms 38

Listen to Psalms 38
1 O LORD, 1rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your 2arrows have sunk into me, and your hand 3has come down on me.
3 There is 4no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my 5bones because of my sin.
4 For my 6iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness,
6 I am 7utterly bowed down and 8prostrate; all the day I 9go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is 10no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed; I 11groan because of the tumult of my heart.
9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my 12sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and 13the light of my eyes--it also has gone from me.
11 My 14friends and companions 15stand aloof from my 16plague, and my nearest kin 17stand far off.
12 Those who seek my life 18lay their snares; those who seek my hurt 19speak of ruin and meditate 20treachery all day long.
13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like 21a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no 22rebukes.
15 But for 23you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, "Only 24let them not rejoice over me, who 25boast against me when my 26foot slips!"
17 For I am 27ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me.
18 I 28confess my iniquity; I am 29sorry for my sin.
19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me 30wrongfully.
20 Those who 31render me evil for good 32accuse me because I 33follow after good.
21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not 34far from me!
22 35Make haste to help me, O Lord, my 36salvation!

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.

Cross References 36

  • 1. Psalms 6:1
  • 2. Job 6:4
  • 3. See Psalms 32:4
  • 4. Isaiah 1:6
  • 5. See Psalms 31:10
  • 6. Psalms 40:12; Ezra 9:6
  • 7. Psalms 35:14; Psalms 42:5, 6, 11; Psalms 43:5
  • 8. Isaiah 21:3
  • 9. [Job 30:28]
  • 10. [See ver. 3 above]
  • 11. See Psalms 22:1
  • 12. Psalms 6:6
  • 13. See Psalms 6:7
  • 14. Psalms 88:18; See Job 19:13-20
  • 15. [Luke 10:31, 32]
  • 16. Psalms 39:10; Isaiah 53:4, 8
  • 17. [Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:40; Luke 23:49]
  • 18. [Matthew 22:15]; Mark 12:13; Luke 20:20; See 2 Samuel 17:1-3
  • 19. [2 Samuel 16:7, 8]
  • 20. Psalms 35:20
  • 21. Psalms 39:2, 9; Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:23
  • 22. [Job 23:4]
  • 23. Psalms 39:7; [2 Samuel 16:12]
  • 24. [Psalms 13:4]
  • 25. See Job 19:5
  • 26. Psalms 94:18
  • 27. Psalms 35:15; Jeremiah 20:10
  • 28. See Psalms 32:5
  • 29. [2 Corinthians 7:9, 10]
  • 30. Psalms 35:19
  • 31. See Psalms 35:12
  • 32. Psalms 109:4
  • 33. [3 John 11]
  • 34. See Psalms 10:1
  • 35. See Psalms 40:13
  • 36. See Psalms 27:1

Chapter Summary


\\<>\\. 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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.