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Psalm 38

A Penitent Sufferer’s Plea for Healing

A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering.

1

O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,

or discipline me in your wrath.

2

For your arrows have sunk into me,

and your hand has come down on me.

 

3

There is no soundness in my flesh

because of your indignation;

there is no health in my bones

because of my sin.

4

For my iniquities have gone over my head;

they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.

 

5

My wounds grow foul and fester

because of my foolishness;

6

I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;

all day long I go around mourning.

7

For my loins are filled with burning,

and there is no soundness in my flesh.

8

I am utterly spent and crushed;

I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

 

9

O Lord, all my longing is known to you;

my sighing is not hidden from you.

10

My heart throbs, my strength fails me;

as for the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

11

My friends and companions stand aloof from my affliction,

and my neighbors stand far off.

 

12

Those who seek my life lay their snares;

those who seek to hurt me speak of ruin,

and meditate treachery all day long.

 

13

But I am like the deaf, I do not hear;

like the mute, who cannot speak.

14

Truly, I am like one who does not hear,

and in whose mouth is no retort.

 

15

But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;

it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

16

For I pray, “Only do not let them rejoice over me,

those who boast against me when my foot slips.”

 

17

For I am ready to fall,

and my pain is ever with me.

18

I confess my iniquity;

I am sorry for my sin.

19

Those who are my foes without cause are mighty,

and many are those who hate me wrongfully.

20

Those who render me evil for good

are my adversaries because I follow after good.

 

21

Do not forsake me, O Lord;

O my God, do not be far from me;

22

make haste to help me,

O Lord, my salvation.


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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.




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