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38. Psalm 38

O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

2For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

4For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

5My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

6I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.

7For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.

8I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

9Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.

10My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.

11My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.

12They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.

13But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.

14Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.

15For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

16For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.

17For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.

18For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.

19But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

20They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.

21Forsake me not, O Lord: O my God, be not far from me.

22Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

1 O Jehovah! rebuke me not in thy wrath As I have already expounded this verse in the beginning of the sixth psalm, where it occurs, and that I may not prove tedious to the reader, I shall notice it more briefly here. David does not expressly ask that his afflictions should be removed, but only that God would moderate the severity of his chastisements. Hence we may infer, that David did not give loose reins to the desires of the flesh, but offered up his earnest prayer in a duly chastened spirit of devotion. All men would naturally desire that permission should be granted them to sin with impunity. But David lays a restraint upon his desires, and does not wish the favor and indulgence of God to be extended beyond measure, but is content with a mitigation of his affliction; as if he had said, Lord, I am not unwilling to be chastised by thee, but I entreat thee, meanwhile, not to afflict me beyond what I am able to bear, but to temper the fierceness of thy indignation according to the measure of my infirmity, lest the severity of the affliction should entirely overwhelm me. This prayer, as I have said, was framed according to the rule of godliness; for it contains nothing but what God promises to all his children. It should also be noticed, that David does not secretly indulge a fretful and repining spirit, but spreads his complaint before God; and this he does, not in the way of sinful complaining, but of humble prayer and unfeigned confession, accompanied with the hope of obtaining forgiveness. He has used anger and wrath as denoting extreme rigour, and has contrasted them with fatherly chastisement.

2. For thy arrows go down in me. He shows that he was constrained by dire necessity to ask an alleviation of his misery; for he was crushed under the weight of the burden which he sustained. This rule is always to be observed in our prayers — to keep God’s promises present to our view. But God has promised that he will chastise his servants, not according to their deserts, but as they are able to bear. This is the reason why the saints so often speak of their own weakness, when they are severely oppressed with affliction. David very properly describes the malady under which he labored, by the terms, the arrows and the hand, or the chastisement of God. Had he not been persuaded that it was God who thus afflicted him, he could never have been brought to seek from him deliverance from his affliction. We know that the great majority of men are blinded under the judgments of God, and imagine that they are entirely the events of chance; and scarcely one in a hundred discerns in them the hand of God. But, in his sickness, as in all his other adversities, David views the hand of God lifted up to punish him for his sins. And certainly, the man who estimates his affliction only by the feeling of pain which it produces, and views it in no other light, differs nothing from the beasts of the field. As every chastisement of God should remind us of his judgment, the true wisdom of the saints, as the prophet declares,

“to look to the hand of him who smiteth.”— (Isaiah 9:13)

The pronoun thy is therefore emphatic. David’s words are, as if he had said, I have not to do with a mortal man, who can shoot his arrows with a force only in proportion to his own strength, but I have to do with God, who can discharge the arrows that come from his hand with a force altogether overwhelming.


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