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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.

10 My heart hath turned round The verb which David here uses signifies to travel or wander hither and thither; but here it is taken for the agitation or disquietude which distress of heart engenders when we know not what to do. According as men are disquieted in mind, so do they turn themselves on all sides, and so their heart may be said to turn round, or to run to and fro. But since faith, when it has once brought us into obedience to God, holds our minds fixed on his word, it might here be asked by way of objection, How it is that the heart of David was so affected by disquietude and trouble? To this I answer, That although he continued to walk in the ways of God, while he was sustained by the promises of God, yet he was not altogether exempted from human infirmity. And, indeed, it will always happen, that as soon as we fall into some danger, our flesh will suggest to us various shifts and devices, and lead us into many errors in search of counsel; so that even the most confident would fail and go astray, unless he laid upon himself the same restraint by which David was preserved and kept in subjection, namely, by keeping all his thoughts shut up within the limits of God’s word. Nay, even in the prayers which we offer up when our minds are at ease, we experience too well how easily our minds are carried away, and wander after vain and frivolous thoughts, and how difficult it is to keep them uninterruptedly attentive and fixed with the same degree of intensity upon the object of our desire. If this happen when we are not exercised by any severe trial, what will be the case when we are agitated by violent storms and tempests which threaten a thousand deaths, and when there is no way to escape them? It is, therefore, no great wonder if they carried away the heart of David, so that it was subject to various emotions amidst such tempestuous agitations. He adds, that his strength had failed him, as if he had compared himself to a dead man. What he adds concerning the light of his eyes some understand as if he had said, that he was so much oppressed with despair on all sides, that no counsel or foresight was left to him. The more simple meaning, however, is, that the light of life was taken away from him, because in it the energy of the soul principally shows itself.


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