Psalms 38

A psalm of David. A petition.

1 [a]LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me.
3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.
6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning.
7 My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.
9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they scheme and lie.
13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear, like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”
17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause[b] ; those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me, though I seek only to do what is good.
21 LORD, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me, my Lord and 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.

Cross References 43

  • 1. Psalms 6:1
  • 2. S Job 6:4; Psalms 32:4
  • 3. Proverbs 3:8; Proverbs 4:22
  • 4. S Job 33:19; Psalms 6:2; Isaiah 1:6
  • 5. Psalms 40:12; Psalms 65:3
  • 6. S Numbers 11:14; S Ezra 9:6; Luke 11:46
  • 7. ver 11; Psalms 147:3
  • 8. Job 19:17
  • 9. Psalms 69:5; Proverbs 5:23; Proverbs 12:23; Proverbs 13:16; Ecclesiastes 10:3
  • 10. Psalms 57:6; Psalms 145:14; Psalms 146:8
  • 11. Job 30:28; S Psalms 35:14; Psalms 42:9
  • 12. S Job 14:22; Psalms 102:3
  • 13. ver 3
  • 14. Psalms 34:18; Proverbs 17:22
  • 15. S Psalms 6:6; Psalms 22:1; Proverbs 5:11
  • 16. S Psalms 6:3
  • 17. Psalms 119:20; Psalms 143:7
  • 18. S Job 3:24; Psalms 6:6; Psalms 10:17
  • 19. S Job 37:1
  • 20. S Psalms 31:10
  • 21. S Psalms 6:7; S Psalms 19:8; Psalms 88:9
  • 22. S ver 5; Psalms 31:11
  • 23. Psalms 31:4; Psalms 140:5; Psalms 141:9
  • 24. Psalms 35:4; Psalms 41:5; Psalms 54:3
  • 25. S Psalms 35:20
  • 26. Psalms 115:6; Psalms 135:17; Isaiah 43:8; Mark 7:37
  • 27. Psalms 27:14; Psalms 39:7
  • 28. Psalms 17:6
  • 29. S Psalms 22:17; Psalms 35:26
  • 30. S Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalms 13:4
  • 31. S Psalms 37:24
  • 32. ver 7; S Job 6:10
  • 33. S Leviticus 26:40; Psalms 32:5
  • 34. S Psalms 18:17
  • 35. S Psalms 25:19
  • 36. S Psalms 35:19
  • 37. S Genesis 44:4; Psalms 35:12; 1 John 3:12
  • 38. Psalms 54:5; Psalms 59:10; Psalms 119:23
  • 39. Psalms 27:9; Psalms 71:18; Psalms 119:8
  • 40. S Psalms 10:1; S Psalms 22:11; Psalms 35:22; Psalms 71:12
  • 41. S Psalms 22:19
  • 42. Psalms 40:13
  • 43. S 1 Chronicles 16:35; Psalms 27:1

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. In Hebrew texts 38:1-22 is numbered 38:2-23.
  • [b]. One Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript; Masoretic Text "my vigorous enemies"

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